Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Cumin and Coriander

Served with yoghurt and cucumber Raita.

Shoulder of lamb responds very well to slow-roasting.   The long cooking at a low heat makes it deliciously succulent and the meat becomes falling-apart-tender, all the fat renders out and the skin becomes crisp and delicious. The lamb needs very little attention for the four hours it’s in the oven, (only a little basting every now and then) making it the perfect dish to serve on a lovely lazy Sunday.

I like to cook the lamb on the bone as it gives more flavour and the carving is not difficult as the meat is so tender it comes off in chunks, rather than thin slices.

A shoulder of lamb will serve about 10-15 people, but because it is so tender, if I have any left over I reheat it in an ovenproof dish, covered in some gravy.


  • 1 shoulder of lamb
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground (to toast, just dry fry it for half a minute over a medium high heat until deeper in colour and smelling fragrant)
  • 2 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50ml (2fl ozs) olive oil
  • 850ml (1 1/2 pints) lamb or chicken stock for the gravy


  1. With a very sharp knife, make long but shallow incisions into the shoulder of lamb all over the skin.
  2. In a bowl mix the ground cumin and coriander with a few good pinches of sea salt, pepper and the olive oil.
  3. Spread this spicy oil over the lamb, rubbing it in with your fingers, then place it, skin side up on a roasting tray.
  4. Sprinkle the skin with salt and place in an oven at 220°C/425ºF/Gas Mark 7 for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 170°C/325ºF/Gas Mark 3 and roast for four hours.
  5. Baste it every fifteen minutes or so by spooning the juices over the meat. The cooking time will of course depend on the size of the shoulder, but when it’s cooked the meat will be very tender and practically falling off the bone in the most gorgeous way.
  6. Turn off the oven and leave it to relax for at least 20 minutes while you make the gravy and finish cooking the vegetables.
  7. Place the roasting tray on the hob on a medium heat, add half of the stock and bring to the boil whisking to get the sweet juicy bits which have stuck to the tray (this is called deglazing) when it comes to the boil, pour it into a mais-gras, or just a small bowl or pyrex jug.  If using the bowl/ jug add 1 or 2 ice-cubes, this will draw the fat up to the top, then you can spoon the fat off and discard.  If using a mais-gras, degrease the juices in the usual way .
  8. Pour the degreased juices into a small saucepan, add the remainder of the stock, bring to the boil, and season to taste, if it’s a little watery, boil it for another couple of minutes. 

Yoghurt and Cucumber Raita

  • 500ml (18fl ozs) Greek or plain natural yoghurt
  • 1 small cucumber, seeded and finely diced (if you want to prepare this in advance, sprinkle the cucumber with salt and sit in a sieve over a bowl for half an hour then pat dry)
  • 4 cloves of crushed or finely grated garlic
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander or mint
  • finely grated zest and the juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper

Put the yoghurt into a bowl, add the cucumber, garlic, herbs, lime zest and juice and some salt and pepper to taste.