Tamarind is abundant in Jamaica and, happily, it goes with nearly everything. Here, its tanginess excites the lamb. This is to make a deliciously sticky dish that is perfect for a lazy Sunday. We cook it so there’s still a bit of bite to the meat, but if you would rather it was pull-apart tender, cover it in foil for the first 2 hours of cooking, then remove the cover for the rest.
tamarind pods 400g, or 2 tbsp tamarind extract
ginger 2½cm piece, chopped
garlic 4 cloves
ground ginger 1 tbsp
ground pimento 1 tsp
thyme leaves from 4 sprigs
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
ground cumin 1 tsp
spring onions 2, sliced
sea salt 2 tsp
lamb shoulder on the bone 1.5-2kg piece
onions 2, sliced
If using tamarind pods, remove the flesh, de-stone them and pick off any strings. Place the flesh in a saucepan with 200ml water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring constantly, until thick. It will take around 12 minutes.
In a food processor, blitz all the ingredients apart from the lamb and sliced onions – but including the tamarind – until they form a paste. Rub the paste all over the lamb, pushing it into any nooks and crannies. Leave to marinate for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Remove from the fridge 1 hour before cooking, so the meat can return to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6.
Scatter the sliced onions into an ovenproof dish, add a cupful of water and sit the lamb on top. Place the lamb in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 130C fan/gas mark 2. Cook for 3 hours.
Remove the lamb from the oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for 20 minutes. Serve with roasted yam and steamed cabbage.
From Motherland by Melissa Thompson (Bloomsbury, £26)