Every Spring we make a curry using lamb shanks. Our most recent meal of this dish was notable for what we cooked to accompany the lamb – our first home-cooked palak paneer, albeit minus the paneer (an Indian style of cheese). Palak paneer is our favourite dish on the menu of Sampoorna, an Indian vegetarian restaurant only one kilometre from our home; we dine at Sampoorna at least three times a year with another couple, friends who live a few doors up the street.
So, back to the lamb shank curry. You will need to start work on this dish at least one, preferably two, days before you want to serve it.
4 medium “French-trimmed” lamb shanks, cut into two sections each
2 tsp garam masala
60ml vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 fresh bay leaf (or 2 dried bay leaves)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground turmeric (or a generous pinch of saffron threads)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chilli flakes
8 cardamom pods
- Trim the shanks of excess fat, combine the yoghurt and garam masala and massage into the shanks. Refrigerate for 2 hours or, preferably, overnight.
- When you are ready to start cooking, heat the oven to 175C. Add 20ml of the oil to a roasting pan, place the pieces of lamb in the tray and roast the meat for 20 minutes, turning each piece after 10 minutes. Reserve pieces of lamb and reduce oven temperature to 140C.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large flameproof casserole pot and sauté the onion and garlic until soft but not browned. Add the ginger, bay leaf and spice mix and cook for 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, salt and 400ml warm water and bring to a simmer.
- Add the browned lamb shanks to the pot, return to the boil, cover and transfer to the oven.
- Cook for 1½ hours or until the lamb is tender and the sauce is thick (adjust oven temperature so the sauce bubbles gently). Add potato and carrot chunks after 30 minutes
- Allow to cool, refrigerate overnight and remove excess fat from the surface. (You might have to remove some of the shanks to complete this step.)
- Reheat gently and serve with accompaniments according to your own preferences.
To make the palak paneer, I found a recipe on an English-language site written by an Indian woman. I have modified it a great deal to suit our pantry and cooking methods. We did enjoy how it turned out but I would like to test it a second time, with the addition of the paneer, before putting it in a post.