Lamb Shank Tajine with Apricots and Prunes
There is something about lamb shanks that’s just wonderful: slowly simmered over a low heat, the tender meat just falls off the bone and normally arrives in some delicious, tomatoey, Provencal-type sauce. Well, it did until my favourite local restaurant closed down, and since then I’ve felt somewhat bereft.
Then I spotted some lamb shanks in my local supermarket – at what I considered to be a bargain price. I bought some and cooked them for guests, choosing a Jamie Oliver recipe. I hate to say it, but I was a little disappointed in the resulting flavour – it just didn’t quite hit the spot that my old restaurant’s used to. Undeterred, I tried again a few weeks later, and this time turned to Claudia Roden, doyenne of Middle Eastern/North African cookery. Her lamb tajines are normally made with meat cut from the shoulder or leg, and include either prunes or apricots. But the principle is the same: meat, slowly simmered in a gently-spiced sauce; so, I thought to myself, why not try it with a lamb shank?
Daringly, I decided to use prunes and apricots together, because you can’t have too much of a good thing in my opinion. And if I say so myself, the result was pretty divine.
For two people, you will need:
1 lamb shank
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp sunflower oil
¾ tsp cinnamon
a pinch of saffron
½ tsp cumin
a pinch of cayenne pepper
½ inch fresh ginger, chopped or sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper
a handful each of dried apricots and prunes
In a large, deep pan that has a lid, fry the onion in the oil until soft. Stir in the cinnamon, saffron, cumin and cayenne, and then add the meat, browning it on all sides in the spicy oil. Add the ginger, garlic, seasoning and about half a pint of water, and stir. Simmer gently, with the pan covered, for about an hour and a half, checking every now and again that the sauce isn’t drying up. Add more water if necessary. Add the fruit and cook for another half an hour.
Serve with couscous, rice or bulgur wheat as desired, and some veggies on the side.
More Middle Eastern Favourites:
- Roast Pepper & Preserved Lemon Salad
This is, like so many of the recipes I post here, really easy but looks (and tastes) like you've gone to considerable effort to make. It's a fantastic side-dish or salad, and a colourful addition to any...
- Fish with Preserved Lemons and Capers
Here's another of those wonderfully easy dishes that tastes like you've been slaving away for hours. In fact, now I come to think about it, I don't make it nearly often enough because a) its so...
- Sensational Coriander Fish Recipe
I turn to this recipe whenever I have plenty of fresh coriander (cilantro). Adapted from Claudia Roden's fabulous Middle Eastern cookbook 'Tamarind & Saffron', it can be served with rice, cous cous or...
More by this Author
A brief travelogue of India, surely the most fascinating place on earth, with a selection of ten of the author's personal favourite places.