Lamb Shank Curry with Peanuts and Potatoes


After last week’s recipe for a stew of white beans with lamb, here is another lamb recipe to close the month in cooking on the blog. Unlike last week’s recipe—which involved lamb neck—this involves lamb shanks. We get our lamb shanks from the same source as our lamb neck: Goette Farms in southern Minnesota. As with most of my cooking, this recipe was improvised, which is not to say it is wholly original: it draws on taste and texture memories of Indian and non-Indian braises and stews and may possibly evoke for you one that you are familiar with. If so, please write in below. The main ingredient here that rarely goes into my meat curries is ground peanuts—an ingredient with which you have to take some care (see below). I made this for the first time for Easter lunch this year and a couple more times since.

Ingredients

  • Six lamb shanks
  • The following whole garam masala: two tez patta/cassia leaves/dried Indian “bay leaves” [affiliate link], 3-5 green cardamom pods, 5-8 cloves
  • One large red onion, chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, depending on size, crushed
  • About as much ginger as garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • The following lightly toasted, cooled and ground to a fine powder: A small piece cinnamon, 3-4 star anise, 3 Kashmiri chillies [affiliate link], 1 heaped tspn black peppercorn, 1 heaped tspn zeera/cumin seeds, 1 heaped tspn coriander seeds, 1/2 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 1/4 tspn allspice, 1 Marathi moggu or kapok bud [affiliate link]
  • 3 tblspns peanuts, lightly toasted, cooled, peeled and ground to a coarse powder
  • 3-4 large potatoes, halved
  • 1 tblspn Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tblspn jaggery/dark brown sugar
  • 3-4 tblspns neutral oil of choice
  • 4 cups water, fresh off the boil
  • Salt
  • 1 tblspn chopped dhania/cilantro for garnish

Preparation

  1. Heat a large cast iron pan or similar over medium heat and sear the shanks for 5-7 minutes on both sides. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pot—enamelled cast iron is best—heat the oil over medium heat till it shimmers and add the whole garam masala.
  3. As soon as the tez patta darkens, dump in the chopped onion and saute for 7-10 minutes till beginning to brown.
  4. Add the crushed ginger and garlic, mix in and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
  5. Add the haldi and mix in.
  6. Add the ground masala, mix in and saute, stirring constantly for a minute or so.
  7. Add the seared lamb shanks (along with any juices) and mix in.
  8. Add the salt, vinegar and jaggery and mix in.
  9. Add the hot water to almost cover the shanks, mix thoroughly, bring to a simmer, cover and cook till the shanks are almost completely done (just fork tender but not falling apart).
  10. Uncover the pot, remove the almost-cooked shanks, add the ground peanuts and mix in thoroughly.
  11. Return the shanks to the pot, add the halved potatoes, cover and cook till potatoes and shanks are both done. Uncover and stir from time to time to make sure the ground peanuts don’t stick at the bottom
  12. Garnish with dhania and serve with rice or parathas.

Notes

  1. You should be able to find lamb shanks at a Middle Eastern store near you. If you can’t find any, any bone-in cut will do.
  2. You should be able to find Marathi moggu for a lower price than on Amazon in a well-stocked desi store (ditto for Kashmiri chillies and tez patta). Unlike the tez patta and Kashmiri chillies you could also just leave the Marathi moggu out if you can’t find any easily. I added it because I’d bought a jar on a whim and wanted to try it in different dishes.
  3. The heat here is brought by the black pepper; the Kashmiri chillies are used mostly for colour. If you want to add a hotter red chilli, add it in addition to the Kashmiri chillies.
  4. It is important to not let the ground peanuts stick at the last stage.
  5. Yes, there’s a Reel.

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