Indian Spiced Lamb Shanks – A Logical Conclusion.

Sorry in advance, but this one is a bit of a rant. “Go Back Where You Came From” This seems to be the underlying sentiment and backbone of some philosophies trumped at and by us today. I am offended on a number of levels. Firstly, the correct English is “Go back to from whence you came.” So, if you don’t understand your own language, don’t shout it at strangers.  My second level of offence is at the intolerance we show for each other at state level, and at every stratum of society, all the way to the most vulnerable. Thirdly, I am offended by the appropriation of the best culinary delights of numerous nations by those who believe the originators of those same recipes should “Go back where they came from.”  I don’t go with this line of reasoning. I welcome diversity and I believe that we need to welcome the people as well as their recipes. So, when my Indian friend Prateek started a conversation about Indian cooking, I took the conversation to a logical conclusion and cooked these Indian Style Lamb Shanks.

Before I get any more offended (we are all now entitled to get offended by anything that appears on the Internet. It would appear that we are also allowed to be abusive and debased in our behaviour, while hiding under the cloak of anonymity worn by so many keyboard warriors), I really should give you the recipe.


  • 4 lamb shanks (note that mine are hind shanks)
  • 4 onions
  • 500ml / 1 pint of good lamb, vegetable or chicken stock
  • 400 gms (1 tin) of tinned tomatoes
  • 150 gms of coconut cream
  • 3 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons of green cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 6 to 8 cloves
  • 1 decent sized piece of cinnamon bark
  • 5cm/2″ of root ginger
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper

Peel and pulp the ginger and garlic. Slice the onions into half rings. Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a casserole dish to medium hot and then add the mustard seeds. Stir them until they start to pop and jump about the place. Then add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they become translucent.

I got lucky with this photo. The pouring shots are not so easy with stuff this small.

Add the pulped ginger and garlic. Stir this until it starts to darken and the aromas of onion, ginger and garlic cause your eyes to water. Then add in the shanks and stir to brown them a bit and cover them in the paste.

This is the most painful part of the exercise. It’s worth the watery eyes.

When the shanks get a bit browned around the edges, add the remaining ingredients. Needless to say, this presents me with the opportunity to try another pouring shot. The big shanks I used were almost impossible to turn in the casserole so they didn’t get as brown as I might have liked.

The cumin adds a lovely earthy flavour to this dish.

When all the ingredients are added, give them as good a stir as a packed casserole will allow. Then bring it to a gentle boil. Put a lid on the pot and place it in a 150ºC/300ºF oven. Leave it there for four hours.

The dish doesn’t look like much at this stage. Patience, like tolerance is a virtue.

After four hours, remove the casserole from the oven and remove the shanks. Reserve them on a dish in the oven. Strain the remaining sauce and reduce it until it is a nice thick and flavour packed pouring sauce. Take guidance from the picture below.

The shanks should be just about ready to fall apart at this stage.

Pour the sauce over the shanks and serve them. A handful of coriander doesn’t go astray at this stage. Serve the remaining sauce in a jug. You really can’t let it go to waste.

There is enough on this shank to feed two people. I ate it all.

While you are enjoying this delight, reflect on the foreign people you may know. Think how dull your culinary life might be without lovely foods and flavours from around the world. While you are at it, think how dull the rest of your life might be without the rich influence of the people from the rest of the world. To my way of thinking, it leads to a logical conclusion. Enjoy.

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  • An extremely good recipe, I’ve tried it – but being a genetic coriander-hater! I substitute with parsley. Incidentally the correct English would be “Go back from whence you came.” rather than “Go back to from whence you came.” just saying, you know.

  • cannot tell you how much I adored this post. Diversity is the spice of society. Period.

    I have an accent. Most immigrants do, unless they embrace their new country when they are 10 years old, not my case. Having an accent immediately puts you in the threat of Go back to from whence you came – remark. It is tiring. Some ask where are you from with authentic, friendly curiosity. Some do it to shape their own reaction to the “foreigner in question” –

    so thank you for the post and the wonderful recipe, and the amazing shots you do so well of spices falling in mid air…. I need to work on that!

  • My husband just spent a week traveling around Ireland playing golf with a buddy – he absolutely LOVED the country, the people, and want us to go back there together in the next year or so.

    imagine? I could get to meet you in person… (well, assuming you would like to meet me… where do I get my ego???? 😉

  • Well said and a delicious-looking recipe. Between trumptown and boris/Brexit we need a good dose of love and tolerance.

  • One need look no further than the kitchen for the beneficial effects of ‘foreign’. All but three of your ingredients are non-native. Without the regular injection of said foreign, we’d still be eating gruel, pottage, oatcakes, beans, boiled mutton and other culinary delights.
    And if we’re being picky about etymology, strictly speaking you don’t need ‘from’. Go back whence you came is sufficient, if unpleasant. I am fortunate never to have heard it in my own adopted land, especially around cricket and rugby time….

  • I love lamb shanks, I also love Indian foods. It never occurred to me to put the two together. You are officially a food genius!! This is a recipe I will be making very soon. Thanks.

  • So much embodied here ! What you are doing in the world of cycling is exciting: we shall be here when you are finished !! When ever ! “Go back where you came from’ has been a well-known TV series here for a few years. I tend to pike out of watching as my BP has a tendency to spike . . . Sadly I have to admit that many of my youth time European university friends and I walk on different sides of the street these days . . . according to quite a few head-shaking ones I developed Alzheimer’s and ‘let the side down’ almost in my teens when ‘humanity’ entered my vocabulary . . . well, I sleep well at night !!! As for your lamb shank recipe – oh, you know I shall copy soonest and exactly !!! As I have said more than once I am delighted to see and learn from fusion recipes – like Stefan I do not accept that classic dishes can be changed willy-nilly and called by the same nomenclature . . . uhuh, am funny that way 🙂 !

  • . . . just checking late in the afternoon . . . thrilled to see Sally and Herschelian have come visiting . . . two of the ladies in the blogging world to whom I gladly bow my head . . . 🙂 !

  • Great rant and great recipe. Agree with both.
    I don’t remember — have you ever tried lamb shank sous vide? It is superb 48 hours at 62C.

  • Ah the disappointing realisation that the number of morons in the world increases year on year. But let’s talk about the action shots instead. Hello, wow. But by number 2 you really were close to tripping into show-off territory. That mustard seed shot though, that needs to be entered into some competition and win a prize, it can’t just stay tucked up in the blog. You have inspired me to root out my camera and do a proper blog post again…. soon..(ish). and also to cook lamb shanks.

  • Such a great post. Telling people to go back is awful and to not even use their own language properly is even more galling. There is such a meanness in this world. On a nicer note, this looks amazing and I love the pour shots.

  • Can’t agree with you more, Conor. I’m saddened and enraged by the intolerance of (some) people here in the US, many of whom are themselves children or grandchildren of immigrants. Similar story in Italy, which like Ireland sent so many of their own abroad during tougher times. The hypocrisy is maddening.

    In any event, on a happier note, the lamb shanks look delicious. I’ve been experimenting with Indian cookery lately, although I don’t have an Indian friend to guide me, only books unfortunately. The complex layering of flavors intrigues me. It’s very different from the Italian approach so it’s an interesting challenge.

  • Frank – I hope you persist on a fascinating journey. As you may have gathered I am a European-born Australian who has lived in Australia most of my life. Two ‘curry-crazy’ husbands and decades later . . . go to ‘real’ Asian restaurants and ask questions ; remember that Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan adjoin, read ‘real’ Indian cooks like Maddhur Jattrey for example, watch the latest Peter Kuruvita videos from Australia (Sri Lanka AND good!), try and be patient and read Conor who manages the layers just beautifully ! Yes, very different from Italian simplicity, but what a journey. Off topic: if you send me your email I’ll get that Mid-Eastern zucchini recipe to you 🙂 ! Conor: so sorry . . . . bestest . . . Eha

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