Grilled Cumin Lamb With Spicy Onions
Yogurt makes a great base for a marinade, adding a milky tang and helping to tenderize all kinds of meats. In this case, the yogurt is spiked with aromatics — toasted cumin, green chile, herbs, and plenty of ginger and garlic — which impart complex flavors to a butterflied leg of lamb destined for the grill. Lightly pickled, spicy onions make a bright garnish here, but you can skip them if it seems like one step too many. Instead, just slice up a red onion and scatter the raw slivers over the top of the meat for a contrasting crunch. If you’d rather cook this inside, you can broil it instead of grilling.
- Serves: 12 persons
- 2medium red onions, peeled
- 2 ½teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Pinch of granulated sugar
- ⅛teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed for sprinkling
- 1 ½tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2teaspoons coriander seeds
- ⅓cup plain yogurt, plus more for serving, if desired
- ⅓cup fresh mint leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
- ⅓cup fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
- 6garlic cloves
- 1small jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired
- 1inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into thin coins
- ½teaspoon black pepper
- 1boneless butterflied leg of lamb, about 5 to 6 pounds without the bone
- Flaky sea salt
Step 1Grate the zest from one of the limes and squeeze the juice. Reserve both separately. Cut the other lime into wedges and save for serving.
Step 2Cut one onion into wedges; put into a blender and add lime zest. Halve remaining onion and slice it very thinly; put slices into a sieve and rinse well with cold water. Transfer onion slices to a small bowl.
Step 3Add lime juice to bowl with onion slices, sprinkle lightly with salt, sugar and cayenne. Toss well and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or until serving.
Step 4In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the blender with the onion and lime zest. Add yogurt, mint, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, ginger, black pepper, 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Blend until smooth.
Step 5Place the lamb on a rimmed baking sheet, bowl or in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade all over lamb, turning to make sure it is thoroughly coated. Cover lamb (or close the bag), and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Step 6Heat the grill (or broiler). Wipe lamb with paper towels, removing most of the yogurt mixture. Grill or broil lamb until a digital thermometer reads 115 degrees for rare, or 125 for medium (about 6 to 15 minutes per side, depending on how you like your meat and how thick the lamb is). If the meat starts to char before it’s done, move it to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or if broiling, move it farther away from the broiler’s heat source.
Step 7Transfer to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Arrange meat on a platter, spooning any juices from the cutting board over the slices, and top with more mint, cilantro, the spicy onions, yogurt if you like, and a sprinkling of flaky salt. Serve immediately, with the lime wedges on the side.