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Moroccan-inspired roast leg of lamb


Moroccan-inspired roast leg of lamb

Here's a Moroccan-inspired roast leg of lamb with harissa. I first encountered this dish on a visit that took us over the Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate. As we prepared to eat our lunch, the sight of armed troops firing automatic weapons into the main square on the other side of the street was a bit of a surprise. They were American and making a lot of noise. A column of smoke arose from where they were shooting, making us think we were witnessing a covert operation by a US Special Forces unit. A closer look revealed that they were filming a sequence for a film, and the US Special Forces unit was nothing more than a group of actors and stuntmen. Knowing that we were not in the middle of a war zone helped us enjoy the roast lamb even more. How would I describe the lamb:
Spicy Kick from Harissa: The harissa paste added a gentle heat to the dish. (The spice level can be adjusted according to your preference, but it generally contributes a warm and fiery element).
Warm and Earthy Moroccan Spices: The combination of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and ginger provided a rich and earthy flavour profile. These spices created a warm and aromatic foundation that complemented the lamb beautifully.
Citrusy Zest: The addition of lemon zest and juice adds a bright and citrusy note to the dish. The acidity helped balance the richness of the lamb and spices, enhancing the overall flavour profile.
Savoury Garlic: The garlic slices embedded in the meat and minced garlic in the marinade contributed a savoury and robust flavour, complementing the spices and adding depth to the marinade.
Juicy and Tender Lamb: The slow roasting process allowed the lamb to absorb all these flavorful elements, resulting in slices of juicy and tender meat with a well-developed taste.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Marinade 2 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings 8 people
Calories 300 kcal


  • 1 roasting pan


Prepare the meat

  • 2.5 kg leg of lamb
  • 4 cloces garlic (sliced vertically)
  • 1 large carrot (sliced)
  • 1 bulb garlic (halved)
  • 1 large red onion (quartered)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Prepare the marinade

  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp rock salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 whole Lemon zest and juice


  • 1 tbsp Fresh mint leaves for garnish (roughly chopped)


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C).
  • Trim excess fat from the lamb, leaving a thin layer for flavor and moisture.
  • Using a narrow blade cut a dozen deep, narrow pockets in the meat and fill them with sliced garlic
  • Score the lamb with a sharp knife.

Make the Marinade:

  • In a bowl, mix minced garlic, harissa paste, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, salt, black pepper, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice to form a thick paste.

Marinade the lamb:

  • Rub the harissa marinade all over the lamb, making sure to get it into the scored cuts and garlic-filled pockets
  • Allow the lamb to marinate for at least 1-2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator for more flavor.

Roast the Lamb:

  • Place quarted red onions, sliced carrots and a large bulb of garlic cut in half (across the cloves) in to the roasting pan with 4 tbsp of olice oit
  • Place the marinated lamb on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side up.
  • Roast in the preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches your desired level of doneness (about 20 minutes per pound).

Baste and Rest:

  • Baste the lamb with its juices every 20-30 minutes to keep it moist.
  • Once done, remove from the oven, cover with a layer of foil and then a tea-towel and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Garnish and Serve:

  • Garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired.
  • Carve the lamb into 5mm slices and serve with couscous, rice, or flatbread or with roast potatoes and steamed/glazed vegetables


This can be served as a Moroccan dish but also works well as the basis for a traditional British Sunday roast with all the trimmings. The juices in the roast pan provide the base for a great gravy if you adapt this beef gravy recipe.
Keyword Roast lamb, roast leg of lamb

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