Lamb and goat—and baby camel for special occasions!—are the meats of choice in the Arabian Gulf. Here, in this Saudi version of roast lamb, the shoulder (you can also use the leg) is marinated in a luxurious saffron yogurt marinade and served on a bed of fragrant rice. Simple to prepare and absolutely exquisite to serve and eat.
- Trim the lamb of all excess fat. Place in a large roasting pan.
- Mix the yogurt and minced garlic in a large bowl. Add half the saffron and salt to taste and mix well. Let the yogurt sit for 15 to 30 minutes, stirring it every now and then, until it has turned a lovely yellow color from the saffron.
- Pour the yogurt over the lamb shoulder and coat it well. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for a couple of hours.
- Thirty minutes before the shoulder is ready, preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Add 2 cups water to the roasting pan. Mix well with the yogurt and loosely cover the lamb shoulder with foil. Roast until done to your liking—if you like your meat pink, calculate 20 minutes per pound, and if you prefer it well done, calculate 30 minutes per pound or a little longer.
- About 20 minutes before the meat is ready, drain the rice and put it in a saucepan. Take the meat out of the oven and uncover. Drain the juices and add to the rice together with the spices, lemon juice, and salt to taste. You may need to add a little water (up to 1 cup). Return the meat to the oven, leaving it uncovered so that it browns.
- Bring the rice to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. Check on the level of liquid, and if the rice looks too dry, add a little more if needed. When done, take the rice off the heat. Uncover and sprinkle the top of the rice with the rose water. Then wrap the lid with a clean kitchen towel and place back over the rice. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the rice to a large serving platter, making space in the middle to place the shoulder of lamb. Garnish with the toasted almonds and pine nuts and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Feast: Food of the Islamic World by Anissa Helou, copyright 2018.