Makes: 4 portions
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: at least 3 hours, depending on the size of the shanks
Ingredients and method
• 4 lamb shanks
• cake flour
• 80ml olive oil
• 2 onions, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, bruised
• 10ml finely ground cumin
• 10ml finely ground coriander
• 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
• 7.5ml paprika
• 10ml harissa paste
• 15ml cake flour, extra
• 30ml sugar
• 1.5 litres good beef or lamb stock, preferably homemade
• 1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
• pinch of saffron
• 3 wedges of preserved lemon
• 250g dried apricots or figs
• generous handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 Season the shanks with salt and pepper, and lightly coat them with flour. Heat half the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, then fry them, two at a time, until golden brown all over. Spoon out and set aside. Heat the remaining oil and sauté the onions until soft and golden brown, then add the garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, and harissa paste, stir-frying for 2 minutes or so. Add the flour, sugar, stock and tomatoes, and bring to the boil.
2 Return the shanks to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer, partially covered, for about an hour, turning the shanks occasionally to cook them evenly. Meanwhile, mix the saffron in 30ml warm water and allow to draw for a few minutes, then add that to the meat with the preserved lemon and apricots. Continue to simmer until the meat is completely cooked and soft enough to almost come off the bone, but still hold its shape. Sprinkle the coriander over and serve with a side dish of couscous and chickpeas.
Saffron, the costliest of all the spices, is harvested by hand from the Crocus sativus flower. The best saffron comes from La Mancha in Spain. Saffron has a unique aroma and taste, but you can use turmeric as a substitute in an emergency.
Did you know?
The Mediterranean is renowned for its fruit trees, and lemon trees are everywhere. Lemons are preserved in salt for later use and are particularly popular in Moroccan dishes such as tagines. Preserved lemons are available at selected delicatessens, but you can also make you own. If you can’t find any, use three generous strips of fresh lemon rind as a substitute.