Indian lamb shank

Madhur Jaffrey's tender lamb shanks slowly braised in aromatic nutmeg make a winning dinner party main course
By Madhur Jaffrey
Indian lamb shank
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 4 lamb shanks, total weight about 2kg
  • 120 ml sunflower oil, or olive oil
  • 15 cm root ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole nutmeg, crushed into smaller pieces
  • 1 tbsp mace
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cassia leaves or bay leaves, shredded
  • 2.5 cm cassia bark, or cinnamon stick broken into small pieces
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 45 g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp wholemeal flour, or chapatti flour

For the garnish

  • 4 tbsp root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2-3 hot green chillies, finely sliced
  • coriander leaves
  • lemon wedges


1. Place the lamb shanks on a plate and rub with ½ tsp of salt and a little of the oil. Set aside. Put the ginger in a blender with 5 teaspoons of water and process to a fine paste. Set aside separately.

2. Place the nutmeg, mace, fennel seeds, cassia leaves, cassia bark, ground ginger, peppercorns, nigella seeds, cloves and cumin seeds in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set this aside too.

3. Preheat the oven to 160C/140 fan/gas 3. Put a large flameproof casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid, about 30cm in diameter, over a medium heat and add the butter. When it has melted, sprinkle in the onion and fry for about 5 minutes, until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. Pour the remaining oil into the pan. When its hot, add the shanks two at a time and turning with a pair of tongs, brown each side for two minutes. Remove. Repeat with the other shanks.

5. Working quickly, reduce the heat to low and add the ginger paste. Stir continuously for 4 or 5 minutes until light brown. Add the paprika and chilli powder and stir for 1 minute, followed by the ground spice mixture and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well to infuse the oil.

6. Add the browned onions, stir, then pour in 1.2 litres of warm water. Mix well, then arrange the shanks in the pan. Cover and place the casserole in the centre of the oven.

7. Leave to cook for three hours, basting and turning the shanks every 30 minutes. When they are ready, remove the pan from the oven and uncover. Carefully lift out the shanks into a large, warmed serving bowl. Spoon off as much excess oil from the cooking liquid as possible.

8. Set the casserole over a low heat. Mix the flour slowly with 4 tablespoons of water to achieve a thin paste. Stir the paste into the sauce, cooking for five to six minutes to thicken, then pour it over the meat in the serving bowl.

9. Serve all 4 garnishes in little bowls on the table for diners to add to the lamb shanks.

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