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Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Moroccan Spices

A recent rainy Saturday afternoon was the inspiration to try this dish, and weren’t we rewarded!?! If you want to make something that is falling-off-the-bone tender, bursting with flavor, and will perfume your kitchen in the most intoxicating way, this it it. Dried chickpeas yield so much more flavor and texture than canned, so plan ahead and soak them the day before. Put it all in the oven and enjoy!

Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Moroccan Spices

1¾ cups dried chickpeas
2 tbs. olive oil
4 medium lamb shanks, well seasoned
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tsp. peeled and finely chopped ginger root
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fresh green chilies, seeded and chopped (or 1 can diced green chilies)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
pinch saffron threads
¼” piece cinnamon stick
6 oz. carrots, peeled and thickly sliced (8 medium)
6 oz. dried apricots, halved (1½ cups)
1 tbs. honey
toasted almonds, to serve
fresh cilantro, to serve

Soak the chickpeas overnight. Drain and tip into a large saucepan, cover generously with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 325°F. Heat the oil in a large casserole and brown the lamb shanks on all sides. Remove and set aside. If there is excess oil in the pan, remove all but 1 tbs.. Add the onions and cook gently until soft, 8-10 minutes.

Mix together the ginger, garlic, chilies, cumin, coriander, paprika, and pepper. Add half of this mixture to the onions, tip in the tomatoes and cook 2-3 minutes. Put in the lamb and chickpeas and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover the casserole and put in the oven for 2 hours, until the chickpeas are tender.

Stir in the reserved spice mixture, along with the saffron, cinnamon, carrots, apricots, honey, and  a bit of salt. Cover and cook for 45 minutes longer, until the lamb is tender and the carrots are cooked. Scatter with toasted almonds and cilantro to serve.


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