2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cardamom pods
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 star anise
1/2 a cinnamon stick
1/2 a nutmeg, grated
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp sumac
3/4 tbsp Maldon sea salt
25g fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
40g chopped coriander, stems and leaves
60ml lemon juice
120ml peanut oil
1 leg of lamb, with the bone, about 2.5–3kg
Always serve the shawarma with fresh cucumber and tomato salad, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and chopped parsley or coriander. It really needs the freshness and moisture. If you wish, you can add some peeled waxy potatoes to the roasting tin about 90 minutes before the lamb is ready, and toss them in the cooking liquids every now and then.
Take six individual pita pockets and brush them liberally inside with a spread made by mixing together 120g chopped tinned tomatoes, 20g harissa paste, 20g tomato paste, 1 tbsp olive oil and some salt and pepper. When the lamb is ready, warm up the pitas in a hot ridged griddle pan until they get nice char marks on both sides. Slice the warm lamb and cut the slices into 1.5cm strips. Pile them high over each warm pita, spoon over some of the roasting liquids from the pan, reduced, and finish with chopped onion, chopped parsley and a sprinkle of sumac. And don't forget the fresh cucumber and tomato.
Put the first 8 ingredients in a cast-iron pan and dry-roast on medium-high heat for a minute or two, until the spices begin to pop and release their aromas. Take care not to burn them. Add the nutmeg, ginger and paprika, toss for a few more seconds, just to heat them, then transfer to a spice grinder. Process the spices to a uniform powder. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in all the remaining ingredients, apart from the lamb.
Use a small sharp knife to score the leg of lamb in a few places, making 1.5cm deep slits through the fat and meat to allow the marinade to seep in. Place in a large roasting tin and rub the marinade all over the lamb; use your hands to massage the meat well. Cover the tin with foil and leave aside for at least a couple of hours or, preferably, chill overnight.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan.
Put the lamb in the oven with its fatty side facing up and roast for a total of about 4.5 hours, until the meat is completely tender. After about 30 minutes of roasting add about a cup of boiling water to the pan and use this liquid to baste the meat every hour or so. Add more water, as needed, making sure there is always about half a centimetre in the bottom of the tin. For the last 3 hours, cover the lamb with foil to prevent the spices from burning. Once done, remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.