This is a really easy dish â€” it just ticks away on the stovetop, filling the house with enticing aromas from the spices. It's packed with flavour even though you don't brown the shanks or the onions. Play around and change the spices to suit your taste.
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
70 g (2 1 1/4 oz) unsalted butter, chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 lamb shanks, frenched
750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
200 g (7 oz/1 cup) Persian (moghrabieh) couscous
50 g (1 3/4 oz/1/4 cup) pitted dates
1 tablespoon honey
steamed green beans, to serve
1 1/4 preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1. Toast the coriander and fennel seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat until aromatic. Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind to a powder.
2. Heat the butter in a flameproof casserole over medium-low heat, add the ground coriander and fennel, ginger and cayenne pepper and stir. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute just to coat them in the butter mixture. Season the lamb shanks with sea salt and add to the casserole, turning them to coat in the butter.
3. Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick, increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to low so that the liquid gently simmers (you may need to use a simmer mat). Cook for 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, boil the couscous in salted boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.
5. Remove the lid and turn the shanks so that they cook evenly. Add the couscous and dates, ensuring that the couscous is covered by the liquid. Cover and cook for 1 hour or until the lamb shanks and couscous are tender. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to rest while you prepare the garnish.
6. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate and set aside 1/3 cup of the seeds. Place the remaining seeds in a fine sieve over a bowl and use the back of a large kitchen spoon to extract the juice from the seeds.
7. Remove the shanks from the casserole. Stir through the honey and add 2 tablespoons of the pomegranate juice. Taste for seasoning, adding sea salt if desired.
8. Spoon the couscous into shallow bowls and place the beans and lamb shanks on top. Garnish with the preserved lemon, parsley and pomegranate seeds.