Last week, we finally had Fran and Stephania over for dinner. It was a special evening honoring a couple of things: integrity and how my husband and I have talked many times of having them over for dinner and gratitude to Fran who took my shot for the ‘about me section’ (Fran is a most talented New York City photographer – check out his pics on http://www.franroberts.com/).
The evening was as expected. There was laughter, gossip, politics and of course my little boys and their baby squirrel impressing Stephania, competeing for her attention.
I know Fran and stephania enjoy Indian food and I wanted to make it a special evening. I was actually going to do my homework and not just shoot from the hip at the last minute and put together a meal from what I had in the refrigerator. I was going to shop for this! After a moment or two reflecting on how I wanted the evening to look, I decided I wanted ‘light hearted fun’ for ambience, but grandeur on the table, something a little royal on my plate. And Voila! It was decided, I would make Raan! Not only would we be indulging in a dish that had been soaking up flavors for over 24 hours, but also indulging in a history of the North Western Frontier (this is made up of Afghanistan, India, Iran, Pakistan, Central Asia and the middle East). Even people who do not consider Indian food a novelty, light up at the thought of Raan. This dish is mouthwatering but when you consider it’s marination in vinegar, ginger, garlic, chilly, cumin and other ingredients, as well as the process of roasting, it is hardly a surprise.
3 lbs leg of lamb
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cloves of garlic finely sliced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1” piece ginger thinly sliced length wise
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried mango powder
1 tsp red chilly
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 lemon rind
4 tbsp yogurt
1 cup malt vinegar
½ cup rum
1. Cut 1/4″ slits all over your lamb
2. Stuff the long slices of ginger and garlic as far down these slits as possible
3. Mix your dry spices (salt, dried mango powder, black pepper, cloves, chili powder, cardamom powder) and rub all over the leg – front, back and sides.
4. In a bowl, mix the yogurt, minced ginger and garlic and lemon rind into a paste
5. Spoon mixture over the lamb, cover and set aside in the refrigerator for 24 hours (or atleast over night). This allows the lamb to draw in all the spices
6. Approximately 5 hours prior to cooking, remove from refrigerator and pour over the rum and malt vinegar
7. When you are ready to begin the roasting process. Heat the oven to350(F) degrees.
8. In a hot frying pan, cook top and bottom of the lamb for a couple of minutes, allowing the lamb to seal it’s juices.
9. Transfer to a roasting dish and place in the oven for approximately 1 hour (20 minutes per pound of meat). Baste the lamb with the juices in the roasting dish every 30 minutes.
Serve the cooked leg of lamb with finely sliced onions which have been soaked in lemon juice for 10 to 15 minutes and with roasted baby potatoes on the side
Pearls of Wisdom
I was nervous about using the rum the first time I made this but in retrospect, I am glad that I did. It aided in keeping the lamb succulent. Sealing juices of the lamb on the pan also helped in keeping the lamb moist. All ovens are different, so please don’t rely solely on a timer to determine whether your lamb is ready or not. When it reaches it’s final 30 minutes, keep checking on it until you get the desired level of cooking. There is nothing more upsetting than an overcooked leg of lamb.