Autumn’s here, the nights are drawing in and I want to make and eat warming, comforting things – food blankets, if you will (not actual blankets, that would be weird. And indigestible). This lamb shank curry is the perfect thing for a damp, dark evening – rich and full of flavour, with aromatic meat so tender it falls off the bone. It’s lazy in the sense that the marinade comes from a jar and there’s not a huge amount of ‘work’ involved (despite the length of the recipe – I’m just wordy), but it’s not quick – lamb shanks really do need long, slow cooking (about 4 hours in total) and anyone who only gives this an hour gets my sternest disapproving look. I started the prep for this last Thursday, to have on Saturday night. Apologies for the frankly RUBBISH pictures, and lack of pictorial evidence of the finished dish – I was too hungry to faff about with my phone 😉
This is what you’ll need:
And this is what you do with it all (day and time of preparation given as a guide, of course you can make it whenever you like!):
Thursday night: put the lamb shanks in a bowl (sometimes, depending on where you buy them, there are plastic tips over the end of the bone so remember to take them off – they are not tasty). Tip the contents of the jar of rogan josh paste over the lamb and smoosh it around with the back of a spoon. It would probably be better to massage it in with your hands but I’m not a massive fan of getting my hands mucky – if you are, get stuck in. Fill the empty jar with cold water and shake (with lid on!) to loosen any residue on the sides, then pour contents over the lamb. Stir it around a bit so the lamb’s all coated in the marinade, then cover and put in the fridge.
Friday night: Put a tablespoon of oil into a big pan and when that’s hot (not smoking though) add the mustard seeds, black onion seeds and fennel seeds. Stir around for a minute while they sizzle and pop then add the onion. When that’s softened add the garlic, ginger and cumin and stir to combine. Put the lamb shanks into the pan and sear them in the oniony oil – they don’t need to get very brown (and you don’t want to burn the onion), so don’t spend more than a couple of minutes on this bit. Add the chopped tomatoes, about 300ml just-boiled water and stir, bringing up to the boil. Tuck one red chilli that’s been pierced in a few places into the sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to the lowest setting (I put it on the smallest hob ring), put a lid on the pan and leave to blip for an hour. When the hour’s up turn the heat off. I left the pan (with lid on) on the side overnight as it’s cool enough now and it means less washing up, but if you’re in a warmer climate or worry about such things you can transfer everything to a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Saturday: If you are aiming to eat at 7.30pm, at about 4.30pm chop a third of the coriander (the stalky end) and add to the lamb, along with a couple of crumbled dried Kashmiri chillies (if using). Put back onto the lowest heat, then, when the sauce is heated through taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary – this is where I added a splurt of ketchup and a tsp of sugar to balance the flavours. Leave with the lid on to happily burble along on the hob for the next couple of hours, gently stirring occasionally.
Finely chop another third of the coriander with the mint leaves (discarding the woody stalks) and stir into the yoghurt, add a squeeze of lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and put in the fridge.
Chop the aubergines into largish chunks and mix with a little oil, the turmeric and garam masala before putting on a baking tray and roasting in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 15 – 20 minutes. Add the roasted aubergines to the lamb curry for the last hour of cooking and stir to coat in the sauce. About 30 minutes before serving add a finely chopped red chilli to the curry (this is optional – you can remove the seeds to reduce the heat if you like it milder or leave it out altogether. I left the seeds in and it made for a medium level of spice-heat but it does depend on the chilli so how much you put in is up to you). Remove the lid from the pan for the last 30 minutes, then just before dishing up add a squeeze of lime juice and the remaining chopped coriander. Serve with the yoghurt sauce and some basmati rice.
Leftovers: You should have loads of sauce left – I purposely make a lot as it freezes well and it makes a great base for a quick mid-week vegetable curry (although obviously not suitable for vegetarians). You can add cauliflower, chick peas, spinach, green beans….. Do be aware though that the chilli heat intensifies the longer it’s kept in the fridge/freezer!