Small lamb roast with cumin and chili

Do a search for ‘how to cook a mini lamb roast’ and you won’t find many recipes that make your mouth water. They all tend to be plain roasted, or covered in a boring and predictable seasoning. My better half bought one in the grocery shop and I was pretty dismayed about what I could do with it for the Sunday dinner.

Mini roasts usually weigh around 400-500 grams and come from the muscle part of the leg. They don’t take long to cook, so you have to watch that you don’t cook too long otherwise you’ll end up with something resembling a brick. That is not good. It’s best to undercook rather than overcook.

Because I couldn’t find a good recipe I made this one up, based on lamb dishes I had cooked and eaten before. I’m a big fan of what a local Chinese restaurant calls Northern-style Lamb based around the spices cumin and chili. And I love Nigel Slaters mint and lemon lamb leg roast. So, why shouldn’t I combine the two tastes and see what happened.

As I soon discovered, my concoction delivered a real hot spicy dish that didn’t overpower the lamb but gave enough of a kick to make it an interesting meal. Served with crispy potatoes and beans with garlic it turned out to be a wonderfully simple Sunday roast.


For the meat:

  • 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds, dry roasted in a frypan and coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (or less if you want it less spicy)
  • handful of mint leaves finely diced
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 mini lamb roast 400g approximately
For the potatoes:
  • four or five big agria potatoes diced
  • olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter


Take the mini roast out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature.

Turn your oven to 220°C.

Prepare your potatoes. Add them to cold salted water and bring to the boil. The minute they begin to boil remove from the heat and drain. Tip into a roasting dish and liberally pour olive oil over. Dice the butter and stir through the potatoes. Put in the oven while you begin to prepare the meat.

Remove any fat and sinew from your lamb.

Combine the lemon juice, chopped mint, roasted and ground cumin seeds, and chili into a small bowl and mix well. Season with some freshly ground black pepper. This will make a thick paste which you should spread over the lamb. You could do this a couple of hours before cooking, or even the day before. Due to time constraints I did it only an hour before it went in the oven.

Spicy paste on lamb mini-roast before cooking

When the potatoes are beginning to crisp up add the lamb to the oven on a rack inside a shallow roasting dish. You need to cook it for around 30 minutes or until springy but firm to the touch. Please, please don’t overcook this meat. You’ll regret it if you do.

If you time it right the lamb will be finished cooking just before the potatoes. Remove the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes, covered with tin-foil in a warm place.

Once the meat is rested serve immediately on hot plates with the potatoes and green beans.

Note: The paste as above is spicy. It was almost a little too hot for the rest of my family. Adjust the chili to taste. Obviously if you need more paste then double or triple the recipe.

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