As a huge fan of lamb shanks, I came across this recipe that combines my favorite preparation of lamb, with my favorite English style curry: the Rogan Josh.
Rogan Josh is something of a cross between a Vindaloo and a Masala, spicy and ruddy, but creamy and complex.
In my pursuit of the ability to cook lamb shanks, I knew I had to have a pressure cooker as I’m far too impatient for 3 hour stewing times. I grabbed a Denmark 6L pressure cooker from Bed, Bath and Beyond for $19 and hit whole foods for a whole new rack of spices I didn’t yet own (cumin, tumeric and the elusive cardamom).
Browning the shanks first
The mix of tumeric (I bought a spicy one), coriander and curry powder.
Bay leaves, cinnamon and cardamom.
This is what the shanks looked like after the initial browning which took about 5 minutes each with a lot of turning. I could have gotten them darker but I didn’t want to risk cooking the shanks too much.
The pressure cooker set up and three steps into the recipe, I snapped down the cover, turned up the heat and it began to shoot hot steam out of its blow hole.
I was worried that after watching the pressure cooker do its thing for a while, and having had no prior experience before, that something was wrong or that I needed to be fiddling with the heat the whole time. Everything I read online and in the manual indicated that the loose steam valve at the top would rock back and forth once the right temperature was achieved, but it never budged. It almost seemed too heavy to be moved by the steam alone. Meanwhile, the ‘safety hole’ that was meant to close and lock in the pressure blew out steam the whole time.
I decided that I needed to let it do its thing and see what happened. After about 45 minutes, the whole time the cooker over high heat, I cut the heat, released the steam and nervously removed the top for fear it would fire like a cannon, to reveal what I’d been working for…
Three gorgeous lamb shanks, wonderfully cooked and aromatic, in about an inch of an intoxicating curry base.
After removing the lamb shanks, I simmered the curry for a few minutes and then folded in a tub of Fage Total strained yogurt, bringing the curry to life and giving it the tart backing it needed to turn the volume down on the spice and allow all of the flavors to equalize and layer.
Finally, I heated up some store bought Naan bread (which always feel a bit lacking, next time I’ll get some fresh naan from the local indian restaurant), and plated each shank on top, pouring the curry over the top. Having the naan on the bottom was great in that as the fork went through the tender meat, you pick up a bite of curry soaked naan at the bottom, for a well balanced bite. I wish I had some cilantro to put on top to make it look a bit classier, but I forgot to get it at the store :(
So overall, had a great meal that fed three people, total cost to make it again now that I have the equipment and spices would probably only be about $10 a portion and it took about 1.5 hours total to make it. See below for the recipe!
Braised Lamb Shank ‘Rogan Josh’
- a big sized pressure cooker (or a dutch oven if you prefer to slow cook it)
- 2 two inch cubes ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 8 cloves garlic
- water or stock – lamb stock preferably (enough to come halfway up the shanks – 2 or 3 cups)
- veggie or olive oil
- 2 lbs worth of lamb shanks (about 2-4)
- 10 pods of cardamom
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cloves
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 inch piece of cinnamon
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced or chopped (we sliced ours to give the sauce a bit of body, but chopping them will help them melt into the sauce)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 teaspoons paprika mixed with 1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 hot pepper, chopped (optional)
- salt to taste
- 6 tablespoons yogurt (or more depending on how creamy you want it)
What to do:
- In a blender or food processor add garlic, ginger and some water together to create a paste. Set aside.
- In the pressure cooker, brown the meat on all sides. Remove from pan and add cardamom, bay, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon and stir for a few minutes until fragrant. Add onions (and optional hot pepper) and cook for 30 seconds to get a bit of color on them.
- Add garlic/ginger paste and stir – cook for 20 seconds or so.
- Add coriander, cumin and paprika – stir a bit. Add a ladle of stock to the pressure cooker and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom.
- Now add the browned shanks back to the pressure cooker, nestling them in as much as possible. Add stock to come up about halfway up the shanks. They do not need to be covered with liquid but there should be about 2 cups in there.
- Cover pressure cooker and cook for 40 minutes (0r if you cook in dutch oven, give it about 1 1/2 to 2 hours in a 400 degree oven).
- Open the pressure cooker when appropriate and remove the shanks – allow to sit on another plate. Check the liquid level in the pot. If it looks a bit too thin, with too much liquid and not enough body, allow it to simmer/boil down so it thickens. When it is thick enough, kill the heat and add the yogurt. Stir. Add some salt to taste.