Newsletter Up In Smoke

Get Raichlen's Burgers! plus weekly recipes and tips straight from Steven Raichlen!


Episode 407: Spits and Skewers

Spit-Roasted Indian Leg of Lamb with Saffron and Rosemary

Other Recipes from Episode 407: Spits and Skewers


Spit-Roasted Indian Leg of Lamb with Saffron and Rosemary

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: 6 hours to overnight for marinating the lamb
  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Method: Spit-roasting


  • 1 4-pound leg of lamb, boneless

For the spice paste:

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons rosewater
  • 4 black or green cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup plain Greek style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for basting

Recipe Steps

1: Place the lamb in a baking dish.  Using the tip of a paring knife, make a series of 1/2 inch deep holes spaced 1-1/2 inches apart all over the lamb.

2: Make the spice paste.   Place the saffron in the bottom of a mixing bowl and grind to a fine powder with a pestle or the end of a wooden spoon.   Stir in the rosewater and let stand for 10 minutes.   

3: Meanwhile, roast the cardamom pods, peppercorns, and mace in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 2 minutes, shaking the pan.   Transfer the spices to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, then grind in a spice mill.    Stir the spices into the rosewater mixture, followed by the yogurt, salt, cayenne, ginger, and garlic.

4: Roast the chickpea flour in the skillet over medium heat until toasted and aromatic, 2 minutes, shaking the pan.   Let cool to room temperature, then stir it into the yogurt mixture to make a thick paste.   Stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter.   Spread the marinade all over the lamb, forcing it into the slits.    Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.  

5: Set up the grill for spit roasting and heat to medium-high.

6: Thread the lamb onto a rotisserie spit and attach it to the rotisserie.   Spit roast the lamb until sizzling, browned, and cooked through (Indians like their lamb medium to medium-well—170 to 180 degrees), 1 hour.    Start basting the lamb with melted butter after 20 minutes and baste several times.

7: Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes before carving and serving.   Baste one more time before serving.

Recipe Tips

Our thanks to the sponsors of Project Fire Season 4:

Crowd Cow
Kalamazoo Grill Nomad Grill
Start N Grill Workman Publishing

Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2022 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein