Yogurt-Marinated Leg of Lamb with Cardamom and Orange

Yunhee Kim

This super flavorful marinade of yogurt, mint, orange zest and cardamom keeps the surface of the lamb from drying out, and gives it a great crust when you roast it. This doesn’t really need any sauce, but a dollop of harissa on the side wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 1 1/2 to 3 hours, largely unattended


  • One 5- to 7-pound leg of lamb, preferably at room temperature

  • 1 ⁄ 2 cup full-fat yogurt

  • 1 ⁄ 4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest

  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove as much of the surface fat as is practical from the lamb. Mix the yogurt, mint, orange zest, cardamom, salt, and pepper; rub the meat all over with the yogurt mixture. If you have time, let the lamb sit for an hour or more (refrigerate if it will be longer than an hour).

2. Put the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. (You might line the pan first with aluminum foil to make cleanup easier.) Roast for 30 minutes, then check; if the lamb threatens to burn, turn the heat down to 350 degrees; otherwise leave it at 425 degrees.

3. After about 1 hour (total) of roasting, check the internal temperature of the lamb with an instant-read thermometer. Continue to check every 10 minutes; when it reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare (125 degrees for very rare) in its thickest part (check it in several places), it’s done. The total cooking time will be less than 1 1 ⁄ 2 hours. Let it rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve garnished with more chopped mint.

Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix (Photo: Yunhee Kim)