Rose Harissa Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder

Succulent lamb shoulder encrusted with a spicy floral kick. My take on rose harissa – a versatile paste that is readily available to buy but is so worthwhile making from scratch at home.

Slow roasting will deliver lamb that you can serve with a spoon. The lamb is raised up during cooking on basically a trivet made from onions, which are later made into a delicious gravy to serve with the lamb.

Just like our Big Weekend Brisket, this recipe needs a bit of time in the oven but doesn’t need much of you in the kitchen and will happily feed a crowd or see a couple of you through several meals.

The quantities provided for the harissa paste – for me – create the perfect amount to develop a lovely crust on the meat, but you don’t have to slather it all on if you’d rather a lighter touch or want to have some spare for other meals. Similarly, you can double the quantity of ingredients for the harissa paste so you have extra for other dishes in the week – some suggestions below.

Adapted from Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes.

rose water and chilli lamb

Rose Harissa Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder

A succulent lamb shoulder with a spicy floral kick from a rose harissa crust.
Prep Time 12 hrs
Cook Time 6 hrs
Total Time 18 hrs
Course Main Course
Servings 6 people


  • 1.5 kg Whole Lamb Shoulder approx.
  • 4 Red Onions
  • 300 ml Chicken Stock stock cube or stock pot is fine
  • Handful Chopped Fresh Coriander

Rose Water and Chilli Paste

  • 20 Dried Chillis
  • 2 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 2 tsp Caraway Seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp Garlic Granules
  • 2 tbsp Rose Water
  • 2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 50 ml Olive Oil


  • The marinade paste can be made in advance. First, put the dried chillis in a heat-proof jug, pour over boiling water and then cover with clingfilm. Set aside for thirty minutes to allow the chillis to rehydrate.
    dried chillis
  • Toast and grind the coriander, caraway, cumin and fennel seeds. Mix with the garlic granules and smoked paprika.
  • Drain the chillis, reserving the water, and then destalk the chillis; you can also deseed if you'd prefer less heat. Put the chillis into a blender with the ground spices, vinegar, rose water and oil then pulse until smooth, you may need a touch more oil or you can add a little of the reserved soaking water to loosen the mix as needed. It should be fairly thick.
    harissa paste
  • Score through the surface of the lamb then smooth the paste all around the lamb. A thick coating really helps to develop a nice crust but you can add on a thinner layer if you'd prefer. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to marinade in the fridge – overnight ideally, but you can do it in the morning on the day of cooking for a few hours.
    uncooked lamb
  • When ready to cook, heat the oven to 120°c. Pop the onions in a roasting dish to form a base then rest the lamb on top. Pour in a little water – enough to cover the base of the dish. This will make basting a little easier later.
    rose water and chilli lamb
  • Put the lamb in the oven and roast for 5 hours, basting occasionally. The meat should be very soft and fall away from the bone once it's done.
  • Carefully lift the lamb out of the roasting dish and set aside in another container, covered in foil to keep warm.

Onion Gravy

  • Take the cooked onions out of the roasting dish and place in a sauce pan with the chicken stock and any cooking juices from the roasting dish (draining off any excess fat first). Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, leaving the sauce to bubble away until thickened. If your roasting dish can be used on a hob, the gravy could be prepared directly in the dish.
  • The slow-roasted onions should be soft enough to break down with a wooden spoon for a chunky sauce, but if you'd prefer something smoother, pop it in a blender – although be careful to avoid a sauce explosion by letting the sauce cool first!
  • Stir through the chopped coriander if desired.

To Serve

  • Serve spoonfuls of your roast lamb smothered in onion gravy. This goes well with herby cous cous.
    rose water and chilli lamb


Any leftover meat works a treat in other dishes where you might want to use lamb, such as a shepherd’s pie. Sabrina Ghayour has a terrific recipe for a spicy take on a Lancashire lamb hot pot – lamb cooked in a spiced gravy then covered with layers of thinly sliced potato and oven-baked until crispy golden brown.
Alternatively, why not try using the meat as a pizza topping, with some sliced red onions and feta, using some spare harissa paste to make your pizza sauce.
Keyword Chilli, Lamb
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