I’d nearly finished my shopping when I spotted a wonderful looking rolled loin of mutton from Layer Marney Lamb. A whole loin for about £10 seemed pretty good value so I bought it. It stayed in my fridge for a couple of days before deciding on putting it with this rich yoghurt, almond and saffron sauce (based on badami goosht by Arto der Haroutounian in Middle Eastern Cookery). It’s apparently originally an Iranian sauce but is common in cuisines as far east as North-West India. The powerful mutton flavour really held up against the aromatic saffron and tangy yoghurt. However, I did think that there was probably a bit too much hard fat still present after cooking, so another time I’ll take off some of the fat and perhaps just use the tenderloin for this dish. (I actually cut it in half and kept half in the freezer, so I’ve got a second chance with this.)
500 g rolled loin of mutton
Marinade: 1 tbsp thick, rich yoghurt; 1 tsp crushed, blanched almonds; ¼ tsp finely chopped rosemary; 1 clove finely chopped garlic; ¼ tsp saffron dissolved in ½ tsp hot water; pinch salt
Sauce: 150 ml thick, rich yoghurt stabilized with 1 tbsp flour; 1 tsp salt; ½ tsp saffron dissolved in 1 tsp hot water; 2 cloves; ½ finely chopped onion; 1 clove garlic, finely chopped; ½ tsp grated fresh ginger; ½ ground cumin; small cinnamon stick; 1 tbsp finely ground blanched almonds; 3 cardamom pods; 150 ml water
To cook: 25 g butter; 1 tsp sumac
Score the fat around the meat in a cross-cross fashion.
Mix together the marinade ingredients, cover the loin with the marinade and set aside. If possible refrigerate overnight.
Set oven to 175ºC.
When marinaded remove the meat, reserving the marinade. Get some oil to a medium heat in an ovenproof frying pan and place the meat in the pan and brown all over. Remove from the heat and pour off the fat into a bowl; make sure the loin is topside up and spoon over the marinade. Sprinkle over the sumac and place into the oven to roast for 45 minutes to an hour for medium rare to medium. When done remove from the oven and rest for at least 15 minutes.
While the meat is cooking, in a saucepan melt the butter and pour in some of the reserved fat from the mutton pan. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves and fry over a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry until the onion is just golden. Add the cumin and fry for a couple more minutes. Stir in any remaining marinade from the meat and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Turn down the heat a bit and simmer for about 1 hour until the sauce is thick, stirring occasionally.
Carve the mutton into thick pieces, trying to keep the yoghurt and almond crust in place, and serve with the sauce. This was accompanied with a rice pilav infused with black cardamon and cauliflower, blanched then roasted with cumin in the same pan as the lamb.