A fact to kick off this blog is that this is the first dish presented to Her Majesty the Queen to mark the start of her Diamond Jubilee Celebrations was in fact North Ronaldsay mutton? Amazing!

Feeds: 4-6

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 2 hours


1 - 1.25kg cleaned mutton shoulder or leg        50gms ginger   50gms garlic 1 teaspoon cumin 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 one-inch pieces cinnamon (or casia bark)

3-4 green cardamom

2-3 cloves    3-4 black peppercorns 2-3 large dried red chilli
3 medium sized chopped onions 250gms chopped tomato    2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil 1 teaspoon salt & then as desired 1 heaped tablespoon fresh coriander


For the Topping

3-4 large baking type potatoes  2 medium eggs ½ teaspoon cumin seeds    250gms fresh spinach leaves, coarsely shredded
2-3 garlic cloves      1 dried red chilli, snipped into equal pieces 1 tablespoon butter    


  1. Peel the potatoes, remove any spots, wash & keep them soaked in water. Later boil, drain & pass them through a ricer or mouli (ideally, or use a potato masher) & set aside.
  2. Trim the shoulder to suit your pan or cut into large pieces.
  3. Roast the cumin & coriander on a low heat until they change colour slightly & allow to cool.
  4. In a blender grind together the ginger, garlic & the roasted cumin & coriander to a fine paste, with only as much water as is necessary to make the masala paste.
  5. In a large, oven-proof casserole dish, big enough to take the lamb, add the oil & heat on the hob, over a medium heat, until a light haze forms on the surface. Reduce the heat a little & add the pieces of shoulder.
  6. Brown well on all sides until the meat is well sealed.
  7. Remove meat from the dish & add the whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns) & the red chillies broken into pieces.
  8. Sauté for a minute or so on a medium heat until the cloves swell a little & deglaze the casserole with a little water to release the residue from the meat stuck at the base.
  9. Scrape up the contents from the base, with a wooden spatula & add the chopped onions to them.
  10. Cook until the liquid evaporates & the onions are being sautéed.
  11. Sauté until the onions are soft & add the masala paste (see point 4).
  12. Add some water to the container to release any stuck masala & add this to the pan too.
  13. Continue cooking for 5-6 minutes & put the meat back into the casserole dish.
  14. Coat it well with the masala, check seasoning & add salt as desire.
  15. Lower the heat a bit, cover the pan tightly & continue cooking the mutton.
  16. Put the casserole dish covered with a lid into the oven at approximately 140°C.
  17. After about 15 mins turn the meat & return to the oven.
  18. Turn the meat after ten mins & check to see that the contents are not burning at the base.
  19. If the contents dry out, or the onions are burning, add some water or stock to loosen the contents at the bottom of the pan.
  20. In another 30 mins, the shoulder should be approximately half cooked
  21. Add the chopped tomatoes & if drying out some more water or stock, cover & continue cooking for another 15 mins
  22. When the mutton is almost cooked the muscles will have retracted & the meat will feel soft to the tough
  23. If in doubt insert a thin skewer, or roasting fork, to see if the fluid released runs clear
  24. When the mutton is done scrape off any gravy stuck to it & place the meat on tray. For this dish the meat needs to be quite overcooked actually.
  25. Carefully remove all the whole spices from the gravy in the dish, if possible
  26. Allow the mutton to cool & then remove the meat from the bone, shredding it as you go along & adding it to the gravy.
  27. Place on the hob to heat & cook very slowly until the meat & the gravy almost dry to a thick consistency.
  28. Add freshly chopped coriander, check seasoning & fill in an oven proof dish leaving approximately 3/4th of an inch from the top.
  29. Finely chop the garlic & shred the red chilli, for the topping.
  30. Take a blob of butter and on the chopping board add the cumin seeds to it and chop.
  31. Heat a frying pan and add the cumin butter and sauté until the cumin colours gently but don’t overheat as the butter will burn.
  32. As soon as cumin changes colour, remove & add to the potato, transferring as little butter as is possible.
  33. Add minced garlic to the butter & sauté for a minute or so
  34. When pale add the spinach leaves, toss for a minute or so until soft, season gently & remove.
  35. Spread the spinach over the mutton evenly.
  36. Blend the raw eggs into the potato & cream them until soft & smooth, check seasoning.
  37. Spread the potato over the spinach evenly, ruffle the surface a little, it doesn’t have to be smooth, just evenly spread. Bake in the oven at the same temperature for 5-10 mins
  38. Raise the temperature to 180°C & cook to get a nice colour on top.
  39. Serve with hot crusty bread or steamed rice.