Medland Masterchef: Middle Eastern Spiced Lamb Shanks

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This recipe is a winter favourite for our Oral Health Therapist, Annika and her family. The recipe (from WA chef Russell Blaikie) features warm spices and sweet dates and makes for a hearty and warming winter meal.


  • 50g butter
  • 6 lamb shanks (ask your butcher to “tip” them – that is to take the top off the bone so that the meat shrinks back along it
  • 2 brown onions, chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed                                                     
  • 1 heaped teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander, ginger powder and black pepper
  • 1 small red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • A few strands of saffron soaked in the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes
  • 125g pitted dates, chopped
  • 500mL chicken stock
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Coriander, parsley and mint leaves to serve


Preheat the oven to 160C.

Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan or casserole. Place the lamb shanks into the pan and brown on all sides. Remove the shanks; keep them aside while you make the sauce.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and lightly sauté until they are translucent. Place a lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes until the onions have softened.

Add the spices, chilli, cinnamon stick, saffron and lemon, stir well and cook for a further minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, chopped dates and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Place the lamb shanks into a saucepan, lidded casserole or ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over the top. Place the lid on and pop into the oven to cook for 2.5-3 hours.

Alternatively, you could use a slow cooker on high for about 3-4 hours. When the lamb falls off the bone when prodded with your finger, it’s ready.

Season, serve sprinkled with the herbs.