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Fragrant lamb shanks with kishmish pilau and lemon and turmeric pickles

Australian Gourmet Traveller main course recipe for fragrant lamb shanks with kishmish pilau and lemon and turmeric pickles.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 3 hrs 15 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Fragrant lamb shanks with kishmish pilau and lemon and turmeric pickles
Kishmish pilau is an Indian-style sultana-based pilaf; the sweetness of the sultanas complements the tang of the pickles and aromas in the lamb shank sauce. You'll need to begin this recipe a week ahead.


  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp each of cumin, brown mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds
  • 1½ tbsp each of vegetable oil and ghee (see note)
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 small red chillies, finely chopped
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (see note)
  • 400 gm canned chopped tomatoes
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) lemon juice
  • 750 ml (3 cups) veal stock
Lemon and turmeric pickles
  • 4 lemons, each cut into 8 wedges and each wedge halved widthways
  • 4 small red chillies
  • 60 gm fine sea salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) mustard seed oil (see note)
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp each of garam masala and ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
Kishmish pilau
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 6 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 cardamom pods, bruised
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 400 gm (2 cups) basmati rice
  • 40 gm (¼ cup) sultanas
  • 1 lemon, juice only
Lemon-minted yoghurt
  • 140 gm (½ cup) natural yoghurt
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 lemon, juice only


  • 1
    For pickles, combine lemon, chillies and sea salt in a bowl. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small frying pan, add spices and cook over low heat until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add to lemons and toss to combine. Transfer to an airtight container and stand at room temperature, turning occasionally, for 1 week. Pour over remaining oil and refrigerate until required.
  • 2
    Dry-fry spices in a frying pan over high heat until fragrant (10-20 seconds). Cool, then finely grind with a mortar and pestle. Heat oil and ghee in a casserole over medium heat. Add lamb shanks and cook, turning occasionally, until browned (3-5 minutes). Remove from casserole, add onion and garlic to casserole, cook until soft (6-8 minutes), then add spices, remaining ingredients and lamb shanks. Season to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until meat is tender (2-2½ hours). Cool and skim fat from surface, remove lamb shanks and set aside. Strain liquid through a sieve (discard solids) into a casserole, then cook over high heat until reduced by two thirds (20-25 minutes). Return shanks to sauce and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until shanks are warmed through (5-10 minutes).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for kishmish pilau, preheat oven to 180C. Heat oil in a casserole over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft (8-10 minutes). Add spices and cook until just fragrant (1-2 minutes), add rice and stir to coat. Add sultanas and enough water to cover by 1½cm, stir, cover and bake in oven until rice is tender (25-30 minutes). Stir through lemon juice and season to taste.
  • 4
    For lemon-minted yoghurt, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve lamb shanks with yoghurt, kishmish pilau and pickles.


Note Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is available from most major supermarkets. Mustard seed oil is available from select delicatessens and supermarkets. Substitute with olive oil. Fresh curry leaves are available from select green grocers and Herbie's Spices.

  • Author: Lisa Featherby