Lamb Ribs with Nigella and Cumin Seeds


Simply Nigella

Published by Flatiron Books

This image courtesy of David Loftus

Lamb ribs with nigella and cumin seeds Stop what you're doing: I bring you important news. Lamb ribs, almost unknown in the UK, are one of the most delicious ways of eating lamb, and certainly the least expensive. I'd love to see them more widely available (without the hike in price that so often follows), but until then you will need to find a compliant butcher and ask for them. Incidentally, in the US they're known as "Denver ribs," since Denver is the largest producer of lamb in America, although one could argue that even there these are not exactly widely known. I feel now's the time for them to garner a little more universal appreciation. I'm certainly evangelical about spreading the word. Actually, I used to buy breast of lamb (which is where the ribs come from) when I was an undergraduate in the UK for 25 cents per breast (I was cooking on a student budget, after all). I'd braise it, slowly, with spices, in one piece, and it was considered a pretty odd thing to do back then, too. The breast and, consequently, the ribs do cost a bit more now, I concede, but they're still a gratifying good buy. Not that they taste bargain-basement: everyone who's eaten these has said they're the best spareribs they've ever had. I like to keep the flavor of the meat to the fore, so don't coat them in a glaze, but give them the scantest covering before they go into the oven. And while it might seem unnecessary to use oil, it does help the spices to stick and the ribs to crisp; anyway, so much of the fat drips off into the pan under the rack. Even so, they are, without question, a fatty cut, but for those of us who love the flavor and the lipsmacking stickiness that this gives, it's a bonus, not a warning. If you're a lean-cut kind of a person, these are not for you. Commiserations.


Cool leftovers, then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Will keep in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Cooled leftovers can be frozen, in an airtight container, for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.

Cooking Methodroasting


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCocktail Party, Family Get-together, game day

Recipe Courseappetizer, hors d'oeuvre, main course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, peanut free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturemeaty, savory, spiced


  • 4 teaspoons nigella seeds
  • 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 4 teaspoons regular olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced
  • 24 lamb ribs, cut from 3 lamb breasts, bones in


  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil and sit a rack on top. If you haven't got a large enough pan (the one that came with my oven is half sheet size), then use 2 pans, and just swap them over in the oven halfway through cooking, and be prepared to add a further 10-15 minutes on to the roasting time.

  2. Get out a dish and add the nigella and cumin seeds, pour in the oil and soy, and add the garlic. Stir to combine.

  3. Dip and schmoosh the ribs, one by one, in this mixture, so that they are lightly coated on both sides; you may think this scant amount won't be enough for all the ribs, but it is - just - and you don't want them wet, merely colored by the liquid and with some seeds adhering to them.

  4. Arrange them on the rack above the lined baking pan and cook in the oven for 1 1/2-2 hours (they can differ in size), or until the fat on the ribs is crisp and the meat tender.

  5. Arrange on a warmed platter and make sure you have a good supply of napkins to hand.

  6. ?


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