This is really a treat from the past. My granny used to make lamb shank stew and we had it with fava bean pilaf.
In the spirit of that, I combined several recipes from Morocco and Iran, added a few Mediterranean herbs and spices, gave it a bit of an Italian twist and made this dish.
It takes 3-4 hours to make the dish so if you are hungry or awaiting guests to arrive soon, stay away from it. Knowing that I still started making it after midnight and stayed up till 4… Something I should not have done 🙂
Like all slow cooking meat stews you should do all the cooking in one go, turning the stove off and starting again next day is not an option. You cook for 3 hours and then when the meat is soft you can put it aside and warm it up later.
It is also possible to speed up the process in a pressure cooker.
- fennel seed
- coriander seed
- cayenne pepper
- sweet paprika
- spicy paprika
- black peppercorn
- chili pepper
- a quarter of a lemon grass
- fresh bay leaf
- fresh rosemary
- fresh thymes
- tomato paste 1 table spoon.
- one 250gm can of tomato
- saffron, a pinch
- 4 medium sized onions, cut into 4 pieces
- 1-2 pieces of lamb shank (I prefer free-range Welsh lamb, but you can make your own choice, specially if you are in New Zealand or Ireland)
- half a yellow bell pepper
- half a red bell pepper
- half a fennel, cut into strips
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 eggplant (aubergine)
- 2 medium sized vine tomatoes
- dried persian lemon (if available, I buy mine in local persian stores)
- 4 slices of lemon
- 100 ml of white cooking wine
- 2 medium sized potatoes cut into 4 pieces each
- 100 gm Basmati rice
- 1-2 table spoon of yogurt
- olive oil
How to make it
- Like all good stories about oriental food, this one starts with spice; so mix cinnamon, turmeric, spicy and sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, fennel and coriander seeds, lemon grass, chili pepper, and peppercorn in a mortar until you either get a fine powder, if you are using dried spices. or a nice soft paste if you are using fresh spices in the mix (sometimes one gets lucky and finds fresh turmeric). The picture here is from a different spice mix. The outcome from this recipe is a brighter orange-red.
- Heat up the olive oil in a thick-based pot and throw in fennel strips, onions, meat, thymes, and rosemary and fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Dissolve the tomato paste in a bit of water and add to the mix and continue frying while stirring constantly for another 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and add half of the wine along with the garlic. Scrape the bottom of the pot, so whatever is stuck there, will return to the liquid. This will add to the flavor.
- Close the lid and let the meat cook very slowly in its own juice for 1.5 hours. Add the rest of the wine if it becomes necessary.
- While the meat is cooking in its own juice, wash and soak the rice in salt water.
- Slice the eggplant into 1 cm cuts along its length. Salt the eggplant on both sides and put them inside kitchen or paper towel to drain for 30-40 minutes. This will greatly reduce the need for oil while frying the eggplant.
- Put 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil on an iron skillet (I use a steak skillet that further reduces the need for oil) and heat up until sizzling. Add the eggplants to the pan and cook for 5 minutes on high temperature.
- Remove the eggplants, add another 2 spoons of oil and fry the eggplants on the other side. Here and there press the eggplant softly with an spatula to let the liquid inside the eggplant to turn into vapor and help cooking it without using oil.
- Remove the eggplants and drain on paper towel.
- Now that the meat has been cooking for 1.5 hours, add the canned tomatoes, bay leaf, potato, and the rest of the wine, if any is left, and salt. It is important to add salt after the meat is somewhat cooked to make sure the meat is absolutely tender. Cook the meat in tomato juice for another half an hour.
- In the meantime, cut the rest of the vegetables (tomato and pepper).
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
- Place the meat and vegetables, including the eggplant, to an oven dish, add the lemon slices and cook in the oven for half an hour to 45 minutes.
- Boil half a liter of water.
- Add the soaked rice to the boiling water along some of the salt water in which the rice was soaked and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Drain the rice in a sieve and wash with cold water. This will prevent the rice to become too soft and removes the residual salt.
- Crush the saffron in a mortar and dissolve it in a small amount of hot water.
- In a pot, melt a little bit of butter and add yogurt and saffron (dissolved in water) to the butter.
- Mix the rice with the saffron-butter-yogurt mix and cover the pot tightly. The best way is to wrap the pot lid in a kitchen towel and cover the pot with it.
- Cook for 5 minutes on medium-high temperature, so the rice begins to steam and then cook for another 15 on low temperature so the rice completes the cooking process in steam.
- Remove the pot from the stove, and dip its base in cold water to unstuck the rice.
- Add a little bit of butter to the rice to flavor it.
- Enjoy your meal!!!