Lamb leg roast with harissa & roasted garlic

Few foods say New Zealand more than a lamb roast, but if you’re like me, it’s all too easy to cook it the same way every time. I gave this recipe from Sai Yoganathan’s book A Kitchen Well Travelled a try the other week, and I love the way the spices cut through the fat.

Sai has a gorgeous way of explaining the combination of fruit, spice and meat: “This lamb leg roast with harissa and roasted garlic recipe is full of excitable flavours and playful textures, which contrast wonderfully with cooling yogurt, pomegranate & harissa.”

Ready in 120 mins excl. marinating (30 mins prep, 90 mins cooking)
Serves 4-6


  • 1 leg of lamb (about 1kg)
  • 15 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 2 tbsp harissa spice powder
  • 2 bbsp vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon
  • ½ cup of water
  • 4–5 small potatoes, scrubbed
  • ½ cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • handful of pistachios, chopped

For the harissa yogurt with pomegranate

  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp harissa spice powder, plus ½ tsp extra for garnish
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1–2 coriander sprigs


To cook the lamb, preheat oven to 180°C. Place the garlic cloves on a lined baking tray and rub well with 1 Tbsp of oil. Roast in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes until lightly coloured and soft. Remove the garlic from the tray and let cool.

Place the lamb in a roasting pan and make small, even incisions all over. Rub with salt and set aside.

Peel and place the roasted garlic in a bowl and mash it with a fork. Mix this garlic pulp with the harissa, lemon juice and the remaining olive oil. Rub this spice paste evenly over the lamb leg and place it in the roasting tray.

Rub the potatoes with a bit of oil and scatter around the lamb in the roasting tray. Cover with cling wrap and let it marinate for 2–3 hours.

Roast uncovered in a preheated oven at 240°C for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat down to 180°C and cook for a further 30 minutes. Pour the water around the edges, cover the pan with foil and cook for 15–20 minutes.

Switch off the oven. Check to make sure that the lamb is cooked to your liking. Keep covered with foil and leave it inside the oven for 10 minute

Transfer the cooked lamb and potatoes onto a warm serving tray. Scrape up the spice paste and juices from the pan and spoon over the lamb. Scatter with chopped coriander leaves and pistachios.

To make the harissa yoghurt

Mix all the ingredients together. Garnish with extra harissa, pomegranate seeds and coriander sprigs.

Slice and serve the lamb with the pan juices, potatoes and harissa spiced yogurt. Garnish with extra coriander leaves and pistachios.

100% of author profits from this book is being donated to the New Zealand Brain Tumour Trust.

A Kitchen Well-Travelled by Sai Yoganathan, Tarras Press, RRP $59.99