I understand that people are often put off by a long ingredient list.  What I have come to realise, cooking dishes like this from scratch is that once you have the ingredients, you can make so many dishes inspired by India, The Middle East, Lebanon etc etc and it really only takes minutes to make.  The difference between the made-from-scratch approach to spooning something out of a jar is, in my eyes, most satisfying as you know what you are feeding yourself and your family, it is far healthier and I think if you were to add it up, it would be cheaper.  A little spice goes a long way and the flavour of these slow cooked, tender spiced lamb shanks was so darn good.  Not to mention the scent of your kitchen as these babies bubble away on the stove for hours.  So, don’t be put off by the long list but rather be inspired, give it a go and I can guarantee, you will be hard pressed to go back to curry in a jar.

This dish can be done in the slow cooker if that is your preference.  Brown the meat and make the sauce as per directions below, transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.


Prep time:  30  Minutes              Cooking time:  3.5 Hours             $$   Medium Budget


Serves 4


4 lamb shanks, excess fat trimmed if you so desire

1 tbs of ghee (1 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of oil to substitute)

2 brown onions, halved and sliced thinly top to bottom

2 cinnamon sticks

7  cardamom pods

1 tsp of fennel seeds

1 tsp of cumin seeds

2 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

3cm piece of ginger, finely grated

1 tsp of chilli powder

2 tsp of ground cumin

2 tsp of ground coriander

2 tbs of tomato paste

2 x 400gm tins of tomatoes

1 tbs of garam masala

4 tbsp of yoghurt

2 tsp of sugar

Sea salt and cracked pepper

1/2 a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

2 tbs of chopped mint

Greek yoghurt, coriander sprigs, poppadoms  and chopped roasted almonds to serve

Brown rice & peas to serve


Heat a large,  heavy based pot and add a little oil.  Season the lamb shanks on both sides and brown in the pot until golden on all sides.  remove and set aside.  Lower the heat of the pot and add the ghee.  Fry the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and bay leaves for approximately 1-2 minutes until aromatic, being careful not to burn the spices.  Add the onions to the pot with a good pinch of salt and allow them to cook down until golden and soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue to fry for a couple of minutes before adding the chilli powder, ground cumin and coriander.  Once aromatic, add the tomato paste, stirring to combine before pouring in the tomatoes.  Season with sugar, a little more salt and pepper and then stir through the yoghurt.  If it looks a little curdled, don’t be alarmed as the sauce will come together while cooking.


Return the lamb shanks to the pot, making sure they are fully immersed in the liquid.  tear off a sheet of baking paper and lay it on the mixture before placing a tight fitting lid on.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 2.5-3 Hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is falling off the bone.  Sprinkle over the garam masala and coriander, stirring gently in a folding motion to combine, just before serving.


Place the yoghurt and mint in a small bowl, season and stir to combine.


I love serving curries with a combination of nutty brown rice mixed with sweet baby peas.  I cook my rice according to packet instructions, using the absorption method and give the baby peas a few minutes in the microwave, in a bowl with a tablespoon of water, covered with cling wrap.  Once the rice has rested and the peas are cooked and drained, I stir the peas through the rice with a knob of butter and a little salt and pepper.


To serve the curry, divide rice between four serving plates.  Top with a lamb shank, spoon over the sauce and place a generous dollop of yoghurt on top.  Garnish with roasted almonds and coriander sprigs and serve with poppadoms.


Wondering what else to do with your spices?  Click on the link below to see what else is on the Em’s Food spice route….