There is only one thing I enjoy about winter; and that’s food!
Nothing else gets me excited about 6-8 months of burying myself in a hundred layers.
So every year as late autumn sets in, my meal plan becomes all about hot, nourishing soups, slow cooked meat and vegetarian stews, rich curries and of course the saucy pastas. There’s something so comforting and gratifying that moreish, rich flavours can do to your soul.
And one such dish on repeat is this Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks, taken a notch up in flavour with the rustic and flavourful Srilankan roasted curry powder.
A slow cooked stew is one of the easiest dishes to make. There aren’t many ingredients or steps to follow but you need time on your side. If you have a slow cooker, then time to get it out. Since I don’t have one, I use the traditional stove top method itself.
Ask your butcher to give you tender lamb shanks and get it trimmed at the bone end; easier to fit into standard size pots and also much better in terms of appearance.
The Srilankan curry powder is what makes this stew so insanely delicious. An extremely versatile spice blend with so much intensity, it instantly adds the something ‘extra’ that makes a dish high on the flavour quotient. Once you start using this spice blend, you might not really miss the Indian garam masala.
This stew can be made using any cut of meat (best with meat on bones though) , not necessarily lamb shanks. But cooking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.
So let’s get cooking these delicious Lamb Shanks with Srilankan curry powder. And if you make it, do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your photographs so that I can see it too.
- 4 lamb shanks (bone shaft end trimmed)
- 2 medium red onion; chopped
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 2 celery sticks; sliced
- 1 large carrot; chopped
- 2 large ripe tomato; chopped
- 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 dried bay leaf
- Olive oil (enough for searing the meat)
- 1 ½ tbsp Srilankan curry powder (recipe given below)
- Salt, to season
- Freshly milled black pepper; to season
- 1 litre beef/chicken stock
- In a large, deep bottom vessel, heat enough oil to sear the lamb shanks in batches. Sear 1-2 shanks at a time, remove and keep aside.
- In the same oil, add the bay leaf, garlic and onions; sauté till the onions are softened (not browned).
- Then add the celery and carrot; sauté for another minute.
- Next add the tomatoes and continue to sauté for another minute.
- Add the tomato paste, roasted curry powder and mix well to combine. Next add stock; mix and bring to boil.
- Add the lamb shanks; season with salt and pepper. Mix and then cook covered on the lowest heat till the shanks are juicy and tender (fall of the bone consistency). Check in between and stir through if necessary.
- Serve warm with crusty bread and salad on the side.
Srilankan roasted curry powder:
- 3 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- ½ tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 10 dried chillies
- ½ tbsp black peppercorns
- 5 cloves
- 5 green cardamom
- 1 stick Ceylon cinnamon (not cassia)
- 2 dry bay leaf
Note – Roasting the spices has to be done in steps as some of the spices need to be roasted longer than the others. Some versions of this blend also use fenugreek, mustard and pandan leaves.
Add the coriander seeds to a pan and allow to roast on low heat for about a minute and then add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Roast for another 15 seconds and then add the curry leaves. Mix regularly and keep the heat low to avoid burning the spices. Continue to roast for another 30 seconds and then add the chillies. Allow to roast for a minute and finally add the fennel and cumin seeds. Roast for another 15-30 seconds and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and then grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.