Iranian Lamb Shanks with Jewelled Rice

Cook time 2 hours 15 minutes (+1 hour marinating meat)
Servings 4


4 large lamb shanks (hind shanks), fat trimmed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp saffron threads
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tsp rosewater
1 large brown onion, halved, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
5 prunes
1.5 litres good quality chicken stock
2 cups basmati rice, cooked
25g butter
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, roughly diced, fronds reserved
¼ cup sultanas
4 dates, pitted, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp pistachios
Small handful of pepita and almond mix
¼ cup mint leaves + extra, to garnish lamb
¼ cup parsley leaves + extra, to garnish lamb

Iranian Lamb Shanks with Jewelled Rice


Season lamb with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. In a large snaplock bag, combine spices and add shanks. Rub meat with spice blend and set aside at room temperature for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 160°C. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof casserole dish and brown lamb shanks, in two batches, for five minutes or until browned on all sides. Set aside on a plate.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine saffron, lime and orange zest and juice, rosewater with ½ cup warm water. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Leave 1 tbsp oil in casserole dish and cook onion over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. Add bay leaves, thyme, prunes and stir in saffron mixture. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, add the stock and gently bring to the boil. Remove from heat, cover and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours or until meat is falling off the bone.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan melt butter over medium heat, add garlic and fennel and cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until softened. Add cooked rice and sultanas and toss to warm through. Season. Drizzle with olive oil and top with pomegranate seeds, nuts, mint and parsley.

Once meat is cooked, remove shanks and set aside to keep warm. Strain sauce, discarding solids, skim fat and season to taste. Reheat sauce in a small saucepan.

Serve lamb shanks on top of rice, drizzled with sauce, and garnished with extra mint and parsley, if desired.

Video of this recipe available here: