Slow-cooked Leg of Lamb (Kleftiko)

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 5 hours

  • 3 large onions, thickly sliced
  • 3 garlic bulbs, sliced horizontally 
  • 1/2 a bottle of dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2–2,2kg leg of lamb
  • 750g baby potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • salt and ground pepper, to season


  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, roasted until fragrant
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted until fragrant
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 300ml Bulgarian yoghurt

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a large roasting tin with 2 extra-long sheets of baking paper, covering all the sides and the base. Place the sliced onions in the roasting tin and top with 1 of the sliced garlic bulbs. Pour over the white wine.

Mix the oil with seasoning and dried oregano, then rub well into the lamb (preferably allow the lamb to marinate for a few hours or overnight). Season with salt and pepper. Place the lamb on the onions. Cover with baking paper, sealing the ends well. Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours.

Open up the baking paper. Add the potatoes, stir into the juices, and add the sliced lemon and remaining garlic. Stir once more until well coated. Re-cover tightly and return to the oven for another 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Lightly crush the cumin and coriander with a pestle and mortar. Mix with lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and roughly-chopped mint and flat-leaf parsley. Stir into the yoghurt and season to taste. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve the lamb.

Transfer the lamb to a large platter or board. Cover and keep warm, allowing the meat to rest. Meanwhile, spoon the potatoes and lemon into a bowl, then pour the lamb juices and onions into another small bowl. Serve with the yoghurt sauce.

Enjoy this recipe with one of South Africa’s best wines, go to

Recipe by Diane Heierli • Photography C&D Heierli