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Nihari spiced lamb shanks

A while ago I was given a sachet of something I had never heard of - stone flower. I was told it was a secret ingredient in biryani dishes, and also a lamb recipe called Nihari. Nihari is a Muslim dish, it can be made with different cuts of lamb and was traditionally eaten for breakfast. Stone flower is actually an edible lichen, a type of fungus which grows on trees and stones. It is quite weird looking and I was rather scared to taste it! To me it tasted a little like star anis, a bit woody, a bit like tea. Iain was not so complimentary! I used just a pinch in the spice mix. It is not essential OK I don't expect your local supermarket to stock stone flower, just leave it out.

for the Nihari spice mix grind together

2 tsp mace blades

1 Indian bay leaf

half inch of cinnamon

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 cardamom pods

1/2 tsp nigella seeds

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp peppercorns

pinch of stone flower (optional)

then stir with

2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp salt


You will also need

2 lamb shanks

1 large red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped ginger



Method

Use an oven proof dish with a lid. Heat some oil or ghee, brown the shanks for a few minutes .Take out, add a little more oil to the pan and cook the onion until browned, approx 10 minutes. Add the ginger and a good splash of water. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes then add the spices. Cook for a minute or so then put the lamb back in the dish and add enough water to come 1/4 way up the lamb.

Cover and cook in the oven, 160 C for 3 hours, until the lamb is very soft and almost falling off the bone.

Let the lamb rest whilst you reduce the liquid. I skimmed off the oil first then bubbled it down on the stove. If you have too much liquid thicken it with flour.






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