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Lebanese Lamb Shanks

Slow cooked lamb shanks on a bed of rice and nuts

Course Main Course
Cuisine Lebanese
Keyword Crowd pleaser, Dinner Party, Feast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings 8 people
Author Zaatar and Zaytoun


For the marinade

  • 2.5 kg Lamb Shanks approx 7 pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic roughly sliced
  • 3 tbsp of plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp seven spice
  • 1/4 tsp kamouneh spices or any Middle Eastern Spice blend
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil approx 2 tbsp

For the main dish

  • 2 onions sliced into ribbons
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp seven spice
  • 1/2 tsp kamouneh spices or any Middle Eastern Spice blend
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 large tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tbsp round almonds
  • 2 tbsp ground cashews
  • Salt approx 1 tbsp

For the garnish

  • 1/2 cup cashews toasted
  • 1/4 cup pistachios toasted
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds lightly toastes
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1/4 cup barberries
  • Tiny pinch of saffron approx 10 stems
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • Few sprigs parsley, chopped optional

For the rice

  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Drizzle vegetable oil
  • 4.5 cups boiling water


To prepare the marinade

  1. In a bowl, add the yoghurt, roughly sliced garlic, marinade spices (turmeric, paprika, ground coriander, seven spice, kamouneh spices and black pepper) along with the vegetable oil

  2. Rub the marinade into the lamb shanks well, cover and allow to marinade for around 24 hours in the fridge

To cook the lamb shanks

  1. Remove the lamb chops from the fridge at least half an hour before you want to start cooking. Scrape off any extra garlic pieces you might notice and heat up a non-stick pan to medium high

  2. Sear the lamb chops in batches until browned for a few minutes at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer to a large casserole dish and turn the heat to the lowest setting.
  3. In a new pan, sauté the sliced onions in a good drizzle of regular olive oil on medium heat until golden brown. Add the chopped carrots and red bell pepper and sauté for another five minutes. Transfer to the casserole dish

  4. Add the very finely chopped garlic and ginger, tomato concentrate along with the spices (turmeric, paprika, ground coriander, seven spice, kamouneh spices and black pepper) to the casserole dish and turn the lamb shanks gently.
  5. After half an hour minutes add the salt, ground almonds and cashews as well as the chopped tomatoes with around a cup of boiling water.

  6. Raise the heat to a boil, then return back to the lowest heat. Cover and simmer for another 2.5 hours. Keep gently turning the lamb shanks every 15 minutes, scraping the bottom of the casserole dish with a wooden spoon

  7. Taste the sauce that develops and and checking if you need to adjust the spice or seasoning, or even adding a little water.

To make the garnish and rice

  1. As the lamb shanks are simmering, lightly toast the nuts either in the oven (watching them carefully) or on the hob with a non stick pan (tossing them frequently). Set aside
  2. Wash the barberries several times, then soak them in water for around half an hour, wash again and drain with a fine sieve. Set aside
  3. Wash then soak the rice in water for half an hour. Drain in a fine sieve and transfer to a pot. Then twenty minutes or so before serving, add a drizzle of vegetable oil and half a tsp of salt.
  4. Sauté the rice in the oil for around five minutes, then add 4.5 cups of boiling water. bring to the boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes exactly
  5. As the rice is cooking, pound the saffron sprigs into a fine powder (or use a saffron grinder) and add to pan with the barberries and butter. Sauté on a low heat until the butter starts to froth a little and browns. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  6. On a very large platter, transfer the rice and fluff slightly with a fork. Add the lamb shanks in the middle and spoon over a few spoons of the sauce

  7. Sprinkle the nuts over the rice and spoon over the barberry butter and a few sprigs of chopped parsley

  8. Serve the extra sauce in a separate bowl