Butterflied Leg of Lamb With Sekenjabin 8.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Jul 23, 2014

Sekenjabin is Persian mint syrup, often spelled sekanjabin. This version is not as sweet and thick as it is traditionally made in Iran. There, the sekenjabin is taken on picnics and used as a dipping sauce for lettuce leaves.

Here, it's paired with flavorful lamb and just makes sense. Serve with flatbread or pitas and a vegetable.

Make Ahead: The sekenjabin can be prepared and refrigerated a day in advance. The meat needs to rest in the rub for 15 to 20 minutes before roasting.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup packed mint leaves
  • 5-pound boneless, butterflied leg of lamb
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for rubbing the meat
  • Leaves from 2 heads romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry


Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture starts bubbling, stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 15 minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat. The syrup will thicken a bit as it cools.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the mint leaves; add about a third of the remaining leaves to the syrup to infuse as it cools. Once the sekenjabin has thoroughly cooled, discard the leaves.

Preheat the oven to 435 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Use a small, sharp knife to pierce the lamb in several places.

Combine the garlic, what’s left of the 1/2 cup of mint and a good pinch each of salt and black pepper in a mortar and pestle; grind, adding the 3 tablespoons of oil, to form a coarse paste. (Alternatively, you can use a mini food processor.)

Rub the mixture into the meat all over and especially into the slits. Spread the lamb on the baking sheet, fattier side up. Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and roast for 15 minutes (for medium-rare). Remove the lamb from the oven; tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Chop the reserved 1/2 cup of mint and add it to the chilled sekenjabin. Arrange the lettuce leaves in a wide, shallow bowl. Cut the lamb into long, thin slices, reserving the meat juices; serve the sekenjabin alongside the leaves and the lamb. Strain the fat from the meat juices; pass the strained juices at the table.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "A Change of Appetite: Where Healthy Meets Delicious," by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, 2014).

Tested by Andrew Sikkenga.

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