As soon as there is the slightest hint of a chill in the air I instantly crave meals that require long, slow cooking. It is comforting knowing that with a little forethought and prep in the morning one is rewarded with a rich and luscious meal that will satisfy the hungriest of appetites hours later.
In fact, I believe that it is one of the greatest gifts that the cooler weather gives us. sending out a message into the air as the aromas fill every room in the house (our home is quite small so this is very easily achieved) notifying everyone in residence that something special awaits.
Be it a large pot lazily bubbling away on the stovetop, or a slow cooker working its magic on the kitchen bench. Or, in this case, a casserole pot sitting proudly in the oven. They all provide that wonderful fuzzy feeling of home-cooked comfort. The type of meal that makes me feel as if I've been wrapped up in a thick, hand-knitted woollen blanket. These are the meals I love and the ones I so look forward to as the days become increasingly shorter.
This flavourful lamb shank curry requires minimal effort - a quick curry paste. Browning of the lamb. A tin of chickpeas. A potato. Passata. Stock and coconut cream. The oven does the rest. 2 and 1/2 hours later the meat is so delicate it falls from the bone. The pot can be taken straight to the table along with some rice and perhaps even some homemade flatbread too, or store-bought, I will leave that up to.
Lamb Shank Curry
Makes enough for 4-6 hungry humans
4 lamb shanks, preferably organic or the best you can afford
1 tbsp of ghee
tin of chickpeas
1 small potato or a small sweet potato (the sweet potato will make the curry a little bit sweeter) cut into largish chunks
700ml either vegetable or chicken stock
1 tin of coconut cream
A good couple of handfuls of spinach
greek yoghurt, to serve
For the curry paste
a small onion, chopped
1 spring onion, white and green sliced
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
3cm piece of turmeric, peeled and sliced
2 tsp garam masala
a pinch of chilli flakes
salt and pepper
zest of a lemon
In a small food processor, blitz all of the curry paste ingredients together until a smooth-ish paste forms. Rub this all over the shanks and set it aside in a bowl to rest in the fridge for at least one hour, even better if it can sit overnight to really allow the flavours to get to know one another.
Set the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (fan-forced).
Heat the ghee (or light olive oil and a knob of butter) in a large pot with a lid and add the lamb. You may need to do this in batches like I do as my pot is not big enough to fit them all into to brown at the same time. Once they have a beautiful brown tinge to them add all 4 back to the pot along with the chickpeas, potato (or sweet potato) passata, stock and coconut cream and bring to the boil. Pop the lid on and place it into the oven for 2 hours.
Once the two hours are up and you have done a load of washing, hung it out, sat down with a good book or whatever takes your fancy, remove the lid and continue to cook for another 1/2 hour.
At this stage, you can either stir the spinach through or you can place a bed of it in the bottom of the bowl along with a good spoonful of steaming rice and a generous portion of lamb on top. A good dollop of Greek yoghurt doesn't go astray here either. Then rip off a piece of flatbread, scoop that luscious warming curry up and savour every mouthful.