Persian lamb shanks are the quintessential comfort food of Iran and Persian cuisine, a popular time-honored dish that is cooked in every home. Given where Iran is located in western Asia, it might be expected that Persian cuisine is a hybrid of both Indian and European flavors, using Indian herbs such as black cumin and ginger along with more conventionally European herbs such as parsley and dill. The combination is a fragrant admixture of delicate aromas that is uniquely Persian and totally delicious. To boost the medicinal quality add in a few slices of dang gui and peony root, two important Chinese herbs to nourish the blood to treat infertility. The dang gui in particular has a strong celery flavor that complements this dish nicely.
Lamb shanks are the forelimbs of the lamb, rich in sinewy tendons and muscle, and like many tough or stringy meats, needs to be braised with moist heat. In medicinal terms, lamb shanks are good for building up the sinewy muscles and bones, and are a particularly good food for balancing vata.
4 lamb shanks
2 – 4 cups of stock
4 stalks of finely chopped celery
1 finely chopped onion
½ head of finely chopped garlic
2-3 tbsp. butter, olive oil or ghee
1 tsp. black cumin
1 tbsp. of dried leek leaf
1 tbsp. of dried parsley leaf
1 tbsp. of dried dill leaf
1 tbsp. of dried mint leaf
1 tsp. of sea salt
fresh-cracked black pepper, as garnish
fresh cilantro, as garnish
On medium-low heat, lightly brown the lamb shanks in butter or ghee, and then set aside. Add a little more fat to the pot and add in onion, garlic, celery, cumin, leek, parsley, dill and mint. Stir-fry until onions are translucent, and then add the lamb shanks, stock and salt. If you are using a pressure cooker, use only two cups of stock, whereas if you are making it in a heavy cast iron pot use four cups of stock, and cook covered at low heat for 3-4 hours. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and cilantro. Serves four or more people.