Vegan Greek-Style Roast “Lamb” (Kleftiko)

Kleftiko literally means “in the style of the klephts”, and traditionally this is lamb slow-baked on the bone, first marinated in garlic and lemon juice, originally cooked in a pit oven. It is said that the klephts, bandits of the countryside who did not have flocks of their own, would steal lambs or goats and cook the meat in a sealed pit to avoid the smoke being seen.


Well, in spite of my having seen my Greek Cypriot father prepare kleftiko many times in his restaurants, my vegan version thankfully involves no animal cruelty, yet contains all the essence of pleasure to be found in this iconic Greek dish.  And, by the way, many other similar dishes can be found in my recent book ‘YASOU’, which is full of Greek and Middle Eastern vegan delights !



2 cups wheat gluten – or Orgran make a gluten free alternative, available in the UK from here, or in the US from here (expensive on the US site unfortunately – maybe cheaper to order from the UK link)

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp dried mint

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp beetroot powder

½ tsp ground white pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp soya sauce

1 tsp tahini

1 cup water

1 full tsp miso paste


EXTRA – a couple of cloves of garlic chopped into pieces, but large enough to handle with your fingers.




Place dried ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Then add the wet ingredients, and spoon the lot in to your food processor, which you should set up with a plastic blade (not the metal one). Process for 1 minute until incorporated, then spoon out on to a clean surface, knead for a couple of minutes – add a tiny bit more flour if needed -and shape into your meat-free ‘lamb’ joint.


Now stick the pieces of garlic into the vegan joint and bring your broth to a boil (see recipe for broth below).



6 cups spring water

2 Tbsp dark soya sauce

1 Tbsp vegetable granules

a few sprigs of fresh sage leaves

a few sprigs of rosemary

1 cup dry wine of your choice (I used red)



Place all the ingredients in a large casserole, and bring to a boil. When it reaches boiling point, gently place the vegan joint in it, cover and lower heat. Boil for 40 minutes, and turn the joint once or twice during the cooking process. Then remove the liquid stock from the joint and allow the joint to cool down for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare your joint mix.



salt to taste

½ cup olive oil

1 tsp date syrup


2 Tbsp soya sauce

1 tsp miso

fresh mint

1 tsp dried oregano

he juice of half a lemon


Place the ingredients in a food blender and blend until smooth – use the mixture for the joint.



1 large onion chopped

lemon wedges from 1 lemon

4-5 potatoes cut into wedges – pre-boil for 15 minutes just to get them started

3-4 rosemary sprigs


parchment/grease proof paper

2 bulbs garlic, cut lengthways



Heat your oven to 355ºF (180ºC). Now, in a large oven dish place the joint on top of your parchment paper to separate it from the potatoes etc. Place the garlic halves in the corners of the paper around the joint, making sure there is enough slack paper to cover some of the joint afterwards. Now put some chopped garlic, mint and peppercorns on the joint and spoon the joint-mix on to the joint.


Place the chopped onions at the base of your dish, then surround them with tomato wedges around the edges of your dish. And now add the potato wedges on top of the onions.


Drizzle on olive oil and lemon juice and some salt.


Spoon on more of the joint mix only on the joint. Place sprigs of rosemary around the dish, place the dish in the oven for one and a half hours or until the potatoes turn golden and the joint is dry but dark caramel brown in colour. You will need to continue adding the joint mix sauce every 20 minutes to create a denser but flavoursome exterior.


Serve with a Greek salad, some hot pitta bread and a little wine – raise your glasses and enjoy !


Yassas !








All recipes and content © Miriam Sorrell 2010











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  1. This looks AMAZING. I don’t have a food processor – I have a Vitamix blender and a Kenwood Chef food mixer. The Kenwood has only metal attachments – the choices are a cake mixing whisk, a wire whisk (intended for beating cream/egg whites ) and a dough hook. Would one of those do? I am getting a food processor for Christmas but I don’t want to wait that long before I try this!

  2. Looks amazing. Do you use red or white wine for this recipe?

  3. Both work Loubelle, but I believe I used a red.

  4. Hi there Jude, I think this would work well with the attachment for blending cakes. Let me know how it goes as and when. 🙂

  5. Hi Miriam,

    Thanks for sharing your recipes, they look delicious. I’m hoping to make this one tomorrow, but I’m new to the vegan realm and thus new to Wheat Gluten. Pardon the lack of knowledge, I’m just wondering if the Wheat Gluten mentioned is the same as Seitan or is it some kind of powder?


  6. Zach Hi – sorry for not getting back to you with your answer. You probably already made this, so will wait for your feedback and hope you enjoy it ! 🙂

  7. I’ve never heard of beetroot powder, Miriam. Where can you get it?

  8. Ebay UK has beetroot powder Vivienne, check them out !

  9. Kalimera Miriam it’s sooo great to see these gorgeous recipes I’m a vegan Greek, always trialling In The kitchen and today I came across this site and as we speak am purchasing your yasou book which I found very inspiring, it’s good to see more middle eastern dishes especially Greek ones being veganized. Being brought up in a Greek household in Australia and marrying an Indian much inspiration is needed in the kitchen thank you thank you your my idol. Reading many of your recipes on this blog is wonderful your hard work is truly sensational may you go all the way. Can’t wait to see your upcoming work

  10. Thalia Hi there, Kalimersou and thanks for dropping by here. My speciality food that I create is Middle Eastern, Greek and Indian cuisine. They hold a great culinary fascination for me. So glad you are enjoying the recipes and let me know how they go. Before I forget here is the links for you – it’s a small errata for YASOU, you can print it and attach it to your book, or jot it down.
    I look forward to your future comments on my blog & most of all Enjoy !

  11. I’m in awe of you, Miriam, and your extraordinary gift for cooking vegan foods. Thank you for existing, you beautiful soul:)

  12. Thank you dear Bree for your kind words that put a huge smile on my face ! Cheers your way and look forward to your future comments on my blog ! 🙂

  13. Quite fantastic actually … wow!!

  14. I made it two nights ago and while it isn’t as attractive as Miriam’s it was tasty and not too hard to make.

  15. So glad you made and enjoyed it Dale ! 🙂

  16. That looks amazing! I bet it smells good too!!

  17. It is Katyemma, and hope you make and enjoy it !

  18. Hi Miriam
    I finally got round to making this yesterday – my first attempt at seitan and so much easier than I ever imagined. I used the dough hook on my Kenwood Chef to mix and knead it and it did it perfectly. The cooking broth was so delicious that I could not bring myself to discard it, so I reduced it to a syrup-like consistency then added it to the other ingredients for basting whilst the joint was roasting. We really enjoyed it and it will become a regular in our household. Why isn’t it in Yasou? I have both your hardback books and assumed it would be in there but sadly it wasn’t so I had the “trauma” of balancing my laptop in the kitchen whilst cooking! Maybe I should just invest in a printer and make life a little easier! Please keep up the amazingly inspirational work, I use your books more than any others. x

  19. Hi there Jude and thanks for supporting my work – so glad you love the recipes. The reason why it’s not in the book is because I created it after publication of it. Most basic printers these days are not too costly and jolly useful too ! Once you print the recipe, just keep it in a plastic folder in Yasou ! Hope you enjoy many more recipes and give it the thumbs up on Amazon for both my books would be greatly appreciated ! 🙂

  20. I can’t wait to try this. Is the beetroot powder just for color? I could have a hard
    time finding it here in eastern Canada. Same with date syrup. Is that just
    for a touch of sweet and could I use honey which I use sometimes?

  21. Hi there Lynn. Beetroot powder you can order it online – I have given the link for purchasing it just beneath the video (in the description). I would not omit it for 2 reasons. The 1st is the colour. The 2nd it gives off a slight earthy taste which works well in this recipe. You can order beetroot online. Hope you have subscribed to my channel for a weekly notification of my new work ! 🙂

  22. I have read on other pages that seitan should not be boiled, rather simmered slowly. So would you recommend simmering rather than boiling, or does it not matter?

  23. Heya, I don’t own anything that can knead machine wise, I always knead my seitan by hand. Would it work for this? I can do it for as long as knead-ded (lol sorry)

  24. Hi Lee – sure you can ! Let me know how it goes – kneading and all !

  25. Nancy Hi there – having prepared this in this way, it worked for me – the point is that heat needs to be directed on to the ‘meat’ in order to create the right texture and ‘cook’ it through at the same time – let me know how it goes, and hope you enjoy my new YouTube Channel entitled ‘Mouthwatering Vegan TV’ – my 1st video being a vegan juicy steak (flambe), please subscribe if you wish – I am posting weekly !

  26. P.S. BTW hope you enjoy my new YouTube Channel entitled ‘Mouthwatering Vegan TV’ – my 1st video being a vegan juicy steak (flambe), please subscribe if you wish – I am posting weekly !

  27. Hi Miriam, excited to try this! Two questions: I don’t own a processor, can I make this by hand? Also, do you have any nutritional info for this dish? I’m on a very low carb vegan diet right now and have to stay under 20 net carbs a day, eek! Thanks in advance.

  28. Hi Emily, you can try making this by hand if you wish. I never have made this by hand, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Regarding nutritional info, sorry I don’t have that info I’m afraid. Whatever diet you’re on all I can say is that a dish like this won’t be a staple, so perhaps you can allow yourself the indulgence ! Hope you enjoy it !

  29. Hi. Have you made this with Orgran? I was wondering how it would turn out. Thanks.

  30. Hi Allison, I haven’t tried this with Orgran, so I can’t really anticipate the outcome, by all means if you try it with it and it succeeds, let me know. Cheers !

  31. I just tried making seitan last week. It looked and smelled really good. I made one batch that didnt call for baking and it turned out pretty good, it was tasty and dense and since it sat in the boiling liquid, very moist. The second batch needed to bake for an hour like this recipe. It ended up a pretty flavorful, but nothing more than just a heavy load of bread. Lots of evenly sized bubbles inside, pretty fluffy. It made some good sandwiches, but was suppose to be the lunchmeat not the bread. Do you have any ideas what I might have done wrong?

  32. Hi David, I haven’t made a great deal of seitan over the years, so I do not consider myself an expert. It’s difficult to say what might have gone ‘wrong’ in your second batch – ie the bubbles you mentioned – mine had none that I can recall of. Often times it can be to do with the temperature it was cooked. Perhaps you can use my ingredients for the flavour and then make it without having to bake it, since you enjoyed the non baked seitan. If so, let me know if this works better for you. Cheers !

  33. My husband and I made this and it is one of our favorite seitan recipes! However, we didn’t know how much mint to use at all and went very sparingly with 8 leaves. We weren’t able to taste it at all, obviously – silly us! How much mint would you recommend using? We have at least 30 plants in our backyard, so we have plenty available. Thank you!

  34. Hi there Vanessa, and thanks for dropping by here. Go ahead and triple the amount of mint, but remember each to their own when it comes to personal taste. So glad you love my seitan joint ! Hope you enjoy many more recipes from my blog !

  35. I’m assuming you make this with vital wheat gluten flour, not finished seitan. You’re making seitan here, yes.

  36. Miriam,Is there a way to substitue something for the olive oil? I am trying to avoid added oil in my food. Thanks.

  37. Hi Tracy, to answer your question, not in the most conventional of ways due to the fact that this recipe is not a common one, so it’s a tad quirky. In any event, I hope you make and enjoy it !

  38. Hi there Tom, the simple answer to your question for this recipe is no for many reasons. These type of Greek/Cypriot recipes always have the addition of olive oil, it’s like taking the character out of it thereby leaving an anaemic state of culinary affairs. Lamb is a very greasy and fatty meat, trying to create a vegan alternative in itself is virtually impossible, so to take the oil out of it is like saying you’re going to make chocolate without cocoa. Your alternative would be to use a little less than I suggested – it’s the type of recipe that you would make once maybe twice a year, so avoiding oil is fine, but a handful of times a year should not cause a huge problem – be sure to use a very good quality olive oil if so (cold pressed). Cheers and hope this helps.

  39. Well said, Miriam! I will use extra virgin cold-pressed. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Much appreciated.

  40. Hope you enjoy it Tom !

  41. Dear Miriam,
    I was wondering if instead of beetroot powder, one could substitute that for actual fresh beets? If so, how much do you think would be an adequate amount?

    Thank you so much!
    It looks beautiful!

  42. Hi Rachael, I cannot say how much to substitute with because of the texture of the beetroot, can’t say if it would work. But by all means try and let me know if so. Good luck and enjoy !

  43. Thank you Miriam!

    Another question! Why do you advise us not to use metal attachments on food processors?

  44. Hi Rachel, many food processors come with plastic blades, the plastic blade is meant to mimic the kneading action as much as possible without processing all the ingredients into a total mush. The plastic blade is somethimes called a dough blade and can be used for bread and pasta dough, though many people find the metal blade also works well for these types of foods. I chose the plastic one for kneading purposes. I haven’t tried it with a metal one, but if you do and it works, let me know.

  45. Do you really cook the potato wedges and veg for an hour and a half after boiling for 15 minutes? Can’t imagine there would be much left of them?
    I’m half way through the simmering process wondering if I may just roast the veg separately x

  46. Hi there Toni. It really does depend on what quality potatoes are available and that you have purchased – some potatoes do not need pre-boiling, whilst others can do with a hot blast. By all means if you have ‘roasting’ potatoes then by no need to boil. Another option that works wonders is microwave the potatoes whole in their skins until soft (around 7 minutes or so on high) and then cut them into wedge sizes of your choice and add them to the vegan lamb and bake together as per the recipe suggests. Hope this helps, and more importantly that you enjoy it ! (there is also always the option if the potatoes are ready, to take the dish out and transfer the vegan lamb into a dish and continue roasting the lamb for the time suggested).

  47. Hello there, Miriam. Thank you for sharing your wonderful-looking recipes.
    We are thinking of doing this for Christmas lunch but we would have to take it at least part cooked in the car to get to where we’re having lunch. Do you think it would suffer from being reheated? Thanks for your time. Rebecca x

  48. Rebecca Hi. May I make a practical suggestion, you might not jump at it, but it is more than noteworthy, trust me. Make this this coming week, see how you like it first, if you do, then prepare it again on Christmas Eve – cook it up for 80% of the time suggested, then yes, you may continue to cook it to take it where you’re having lunch, it shouldn’t really suffer much at all. Have you ever tried any of my roulades (found in the ‘festive’ section of my recipes, on the right hand side margin of my blog’s homepage ?). If not, you’re really missing an incredible treat that will never let you down. Just an alternative thought in the event that you did not see these options too – they are fail proof and I have received countless upon countless messages with positive and cheerful feedback ! They are recipes that are designed to be made up the day before, and then rolled easily into their savory dough (store bought works), then scored and freshly baked (as per the recipe suggests). Here is an example of a favourite of mine : – hope this helps and enjoy !

  49. How many people does this serve?

  50. Hi Liam – I would say at least 4 people, again, this does depend on portion sizes, but if you’re going to serve it with potatoes then 4 should be ample. Let me know how it goes and enjoy !

  51. A tip regarding the beetroot powder – it works better if you blend it with the liquid ingredients first. Otherwise, it has an awful tendency to clump, and because the dough is pretty dry you can never quite knead them out and end up with little balls of beat powder at the end.

  52. Hi Alexander, It also does depend on whether the beet powder is not clumped to start with, but we all know it’s tendency to do so – good tip thanks !

  53. Miriam i just made this recipe as i have been vegan for almost 8yrs and this is my first attempt at meat substitute. The flavor of the sauce is absolutely delishous, however my meat was not as pink as yours and yet i used beetroot powder? I will definitely make again, so thank you for this brilliant recipe.

  54. Hi Sandra and welcome here. It’s a funny thing the beetroot powder, I say this because some of them seem to be stronger in colour/natural pigment than others. So, don’t be afraid to double the dose next time round. So glad you enjoyed it and hope you enjoy it for many years to come ! Cheers !

  55. I love your recipe so much that I purchased you Yasou cookbook on Amazon and today I made the bran imam baylidi. I loved it!!

  56. Aw Lisa, that sounds awesome, be sure to let me know what else you are enjoying from the book ! You’re going to enjoy the culinary journey ! 🙂
    P.S. There is a minor errata – feel free to screen shot it and print it out (1 page) or copy and paste it, print and leave it in the back of the book for reference : Thanks for supporting my work.

  57. Have you any tips to why mine turned out very spongey and tough? I put mix in processor for about 10 seconds and it was a really tough rubber consistency? I couldn’t even cut into it to pierce with garlic, and this was before it was cooked.

  58. Hi Olivia, I can’t imagine why. It’s worked for everybody here, but it could be the ingredients, time cooking, anything, difficult to see why when one is not in the kitchen watching. Perhaps you could knead the dough for 5 extra minutes by hand, that might help.

  59. Thank you for your response Miriam, I have no doubt it is something I am doing, not your recipe. Is it normal for the gluten flour to turn into a rubbery blob? At what stage of kneading does this occur? Perhaps its the flour?

  60. It could be Olivia. Try with vital wheat gluten, but you must knead if for 10-15 mins. Good luck for next time though.

  61. I just ordered your book from Amazon. I can’t wait to try out some recipes. My husbands father is Greek and the whole family is interested in going Vegan. I have always loved Greek food and I’m excited to see this book!

  62. Hi there Laura, well, that’s awesome news, and let me know what you think of the book when it reaches you. I think it’s going to be relatively easy to go vegan using it. I look forward to your future comments on my blog. Enjoy !

  63. We just got back from a holiday in Cyprus! I have to say, it was really hard to find vegan food most places. This looks so great, but when you say “joint,” you mean the whole formed “leg,” right? I’ve never heard the word joint used that way.(I’m not British, I’m originally from the US)

  64. Hi Andrea, and welcome here. It’s really a play on the word, so as to imitate a leg of lamb. Hope you make and enjoy it and also see my book entitled YASOU here (it is packed with delicious Greek & Middle Easter Recipes and family secret recipes that have been carefully veganized – each recipe has a full blown photo of the dish) : 🙂

  65. Hi Miriam stumbled on your recipe and wish to try it out but vital wheat gluten is out of reach. Can I use polenta or wholemeal flour?

    Happy New Year to you and all yours.

  66. Joe it cannot be made with wholemeal flour, it has to be made with vital wheat gluten and although not sure if health food stores stock it now, it can be ordered online via ebay.

  67. Miriam- what a fantastic recipe thank you.
    I made a gf version by substituting the vital wheat gluten for 2 cups of gf flour +2 tsp of guargum. It worked perfectly (I think) – tastes yummy and full of texture.
    I might try a lentil or chickpea crust next time to up the protein content.
    I look forward to getting your book. Thanks

  68. Aimee, glad you made and enjoyed it !

  69. This looks delicious and can’t wait to try it. I am not familiar with vegetable granules. Are they the same as soya granules?
    Also, can agave or honey be substituted for date syrup?

  70. Hi Lynn. Veg granules is the same as vegetable powder stock, the one you would add hot water to. Yes you can add date syrup instead. Hope you enjoy it !

  71. Hi Miriam! I’m inspired by this. Putting together a Christmas dinner for ~80 people, most of whom are not vegan. Would this dish please carnivores? What else might you recommend for a “meaty” addition, or is there another recipe better suited for such a night?

  72. Hi Marika. Whilst this is an awesome dish, I would not recommend it for carnivores. If you wish to showcase vegan food at it’s best allow me to make two safe proof and always applauded by non vegans Christmas recipes that never ever fail to please. That would be my as well as
    whilst the carb content is high (which is to be expected during the festive season) the flavours of these recipes rank very, very high and please all palettes. If you need another couple of ideas, I’m happy to oblige if I can. Hope this helps and look forward to your future comments on my blog !


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