A great winter dish

Each year we go away on holiday at Easter with my cousins – five families, plus children and in some cases grandchildren too. What a lot of people! We share the cooking, each family organising one night, and having sausages and gammon on the other two nights. At the end of the week we have a vote on the favourite meal, and one year we one with this North African lamb dish. Although we ate this at Easter, it’s a great winter dish,spicy and tasty and yummy:


  • 1 lamb shank per person, or enough lamb in a joint for 5-6 people, or lamb cut in pieces
  • 2 dessert spoons sweet paprika not smoked
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp turmeric
  • 6 each of cardamom pods and cloves (if you’re not keen on cloves miss them out)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 bay leaves (again, if you don’t like bay, miss it out)
  • 3 onions  finely chopped
  • 3  cloves of garlic chopped or mashed
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped (more if you like it a bit fiery, less if you don’t want it too hot)
  • 25g fresh grated ginger
  • 2½- 3 pints stock
  • 2 preserved lemons
  • prunes
  • toasted almonds,  chopped coriander and  mint to garnish


  1. fry the onions until soft but not too browned
  2. add the lamb and just brown then take it and the onions from the pan for a moment
  3. add spices but not the garlic, ginger or chillies yet, and cook for just a couple of minutes taking care they don’t catch or burn, and add more oil if you need to
  4. add the garlic, ginger and chilli, stir in to cook for a minute or so then add the lamb
  5. add the stock so the meat is covered, bring to boil, then cover and put in a slow oven, 325°F, 165°C, gas mark 3 for about 3 hours if the lamb is in chunks, but 4 or so hours for shanks or a joint, until it is meltingly  tender
  6. take the meat from the pan but keep warm, and reduce the sauce to the right consistency (check for seasoning – but the preserved lemons are going to be salty so check again once they are added)
  7. meanwhile chop the prunes and lemons and mix with the almonds and herbs
  8. put the meat back into the sauce, and stir in half of the lemon/prune/almond herb mix (if you don’t like this miss it out – or miss out just the lemons which do have a particular taste!)
  9. serve with couscous, bulgur wheat or rice and scatter the rest of the lemon/prune/almond herb mix over the top (if you’re not sure your guests will like it, serve it separately in a little dish


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