Curried lamb shanks with wild garlic rice

Merrilees Parker uses her favourite spice star anise in this slow-cooked dish inspired by a trip to India
By Merrilees Parker
Curried lamb shanks with wild garlic rice
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the lamb

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 4 green finger chillies, seeds removed, flesh roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 6 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, halved
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 x 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp jaggery or soft brown sugar
  • 300 ml chicken stock
  • 150 ml coconut cream
  • 4 lamb shanks

For the rice

  • 1 tbsp ghee or melted butter
  • 150 g basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 25 g wild garlic, finely chopped
  • 25 g mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 2.

2. For the lamb: put the onion, ginger, garlic, chillies, turmeric and 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil into a food processor and blend to a smooth paste.

3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the remaining oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat, then add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, star anise and cumin seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

4. Stir the paste into the spices and cook for 5-6 minutes until the mixture is fragrant and starting to darken in colour.

5. Stir in the tomatoes, jaggery, chicken stock and coconut cream and season generously with salt. Stir until everything is well mixed then bring to a simmer.

6. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, season the lamb shanks generously with salt and black pepper and fry for 4-5 minutes until browned on the outside.

7. Add the shanks to the sauce and turn to coat. Cover the casserole, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 ½ - 3 hours, turning 2 or 3 times, until the meat is cooked and tender and falling off the bone.

8. For the rice: heat the ghee in a saucepan that has a tight fitting lid over a medium-high heat. Add the rice and fry for 1-2 minutes then pour in 200ml of water and add a good pinch of salt.

9. Bring to the boil and leave to boil until all the water has been absorbed and steam holes appear on the surface. When it reaches this stage turn off the heat, cover with the lid and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes.

10. While the rice is standing, tip the mint, wild garlic and oil into a food processor and blend until smooth.

11. To serve, stir the mint and wild garlic paste into the rice. Pile the rice onto serving plates, top with the lamb shanks and spoon over the sauce.

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