Or is it pilaf? I believe the words are synonymous, but perhaps it depends if your dish is Middle Eastern (pilaf) or Indian (pilau). This one is a pilau because it’s based on one of Meera Sodha’s from her wonderful book Fresh India, which I mentioned here and a copy of which I now own.
A pilau is made with long grain rice and is a great way of using up leftover ingredients, which is what I was doing the other night when I made it. I added asparagus because at this time of year during the British asparagus season, hardly a day goes by when it isn’t on our menu at home.
We had a lovely weekend at home this Easter, with our sons and two of their girlfriends joining us for most of it. I tried to keep the cooking as simple (but delicious) as possible and had a cooking-free Saturday night when we went to our local Italian to celebrate my birthday the previous week.
For Easter Sunday lunch I ordered a large leg of lamb from the butcher and asked him to remove the bone and butterfly it. My thinking was that it would cook more quickly and carve more easily (although carving is my (surgeon) husband’s job!).
On Saturday afternoon I prepared the marinade, covered the lamb and put it in the fridge to be forgotten about until Sunday morning.
I adapted the following recipe from Diana Henry’s book, Cook Simple.
Indian Leg of Lamb
For about 8 people
1 x 2kg leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
55g blanched almonds
2 onions, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
a big chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 green chillies, halved and deseeded
550g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp ground cumin
4 tsps ground coriander
2 tsps ground cinnamon
2 tsps garam masala
salt and pepper
Make deep gashes all over the meat with a sharp knife and put it in a dish
Blitz everything else in a food processor and spread this all over the lamb, massaging it in with your hands. It will look like this:
Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge
On Sunday morning, preheat a conventional oven to 200ºC, take the lamb out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature. Place it in a large roasting tin and cover with foil
Aga users: put it in the roasting oven for about 30 minutes, then remove the foil for 5 or ten minutes before placing the lamb in the simmering oven until you’re ready to serve lunch. This was 2pm in our case, so the total cooking time was about four and a half hours. If you’re using a conventional oven, the cooking time is about one and a half hours, with the foil removed for the last 20 minutes or so
Leave the lamb to rest on a board while you reheat the cooking juices, stirring as you go, to make a delicious sauce to be served with the lamb
I served our lamb with a pilaff, carrots roasted with coriander and garlic and two green vegetables