Lamb shanks, chickpeas and curry leaves

Three blue ducks' wintry lamb shanks (with cucumber salad).
Three blue ducks' wintry lamb shanks (with cucumber salad). Photo: Edwina Pickles

This is essentially a tasty little lamb shank curry recipe. It serves four people but there's more than enough sauce to add a few more shanks if need be. Lamb shanks take a bit of slow cooking to break down the tough connective tissue, so don't try and rush them. Just pop the dish in the oven and forget about it for a few hours, while you read the paper, hit the beach or take a well-deserved nap. If you can't get lamb shanks, try beef cheeks, ox tails or veal shanks.


1 1/2 red onions (peeled and finely chopped)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

salt and pepper

4 lamb shanks

3 tbsp fresh curry leaves

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

8 garlic cloves, peeled

1 bunch coriander, leaves stripped

1 small knob fresh ginger

1 large red chilli

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp ground coriander 

2 tbsp  ground cumin 

1 stick cinnamon

400g tin crushed tomatoes

1 litre chicken stock (check gluten-free if required)

400g tin chickpeas

1 cup natural yoghurt

1 lime


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat the oil in an oven-proof casserole dish, season the shanks, brown them on all sides, then remove and set aside. 

3. Reduce the heat and fry the curry leaves and mustard seeds for a minute until the seeds pop. Add the onions and gently cook for 4-5 minutes while you knock up a paste.

4. For the paste, crush the garlic and chop coriander stalks finely and grind with ginger and chilli in a mortar and pestle. Add the paste and spices to the onions and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring now and then.

5. Return the shanks to the dish with the tomatoes and stock. Cover with a lid or foil and cook at 160 degrees in the oven for 2-3 hours. When cooked the meat will come away from the bone.

6. Remove shanks from the casserole dish, add drained chickpeas and heat through. Adjust the consistency of the curry – if it's a little too thin reduce it on the stove. If it's on the thick side, add a touch of water.

To serve: Stir half a cup of yoghurt through the curry, then drizzle remaining yoghurt on top. Garnish with a big handful of coriander leaves and a good squeeze of lime juice before serving.

Tip: For maximum results, dry roast the whole spices until they become aromatic then grind into a powder.

Serve with: The Blue Dicks' spicy cucumber and brown rice salad.