Braised Lamb with Aromatic Spices


WordPress is acting up, but to make up for the lack of recipes last week, I have an additional post for you for this week. Also I’ve been receiving some requests these days in the run-up to the holidays. This is the first for this season. For me, this recipe is an oldie but a goodie, as they say. And it’s comforting. December has officially started – I say officially because culturally Christmas begins way to early. One of my neighbours has had her tree up for more than three weeks. That’s crazy if you ask me. I don’t think I’ll have mine up till next week, together with the traditional Bambin (Baby Jesus) and/or Presepju (Crib). And some things are still in boxes anyway. I’m learning slowly is the less I have the happier I am. I’m still working on that.

One of the lessons I’ve already learnt the hard way, and one I’ve spoken about in previous posts, is the easier the recipe, the more manageable life is. I will have our families around for Christmas lunch. Even though I have an idea of what I’ll be cooking, I don’t have the full picture yet. At least I know where to get my supplies, but I have a feeling I won’t be able to get exactly what I want. You know what though? It’s not important. No it’s really not. I’m not prepared to stress about things this year. My Christmas lunch will be a leisurely affair, a simple roast with veggies or stew will do with some soup and antipasti before, and something simple with coffee for afters. That’s it. Yes, I am looking forward to the day, but I want to enjoy it. Stressing about the whole thing from now isn’t going to do anyone any good. And that goes for you too. Yes, you.

So the following could be an option. I made this Nigella recipe ages ago and left it on the shelf, or rather in my folder, for years, and not because it wasn’t good. The spices worked so well together. I rediscovered it a few weeks back and decided to give it a go again. Perhaps even in the coming days. It’s stress-free and made with things found in my food cupboard anyway, except the meat of course. But that only means a quick visit to the butcher. I’ve made little changes to the original ingredients simply because I couldn’t get lamb shanks at the time, but it works well with any cut used for roasting. You need patience and time, but there’s nothing complicated about it. Keep me posted, and happy Christmas prep everyone.

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • shoulder of lamb, approx. 2kg in weight
  • 2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons red vermouth
  • around 1 litre vegetable stock*
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons red lentils

Pour three tablespoons of the vegetable oil into a large heavy-based pan. I find cast iron to be ideal for this, but work with whatever you have and/or prefer. Warm the oil over medium heat and brown the lamb on all sides in the hot oil. This will be a bit tough to do but get help (like I did!) if you need it. When you’ve done this, lift it from the pan and place it on a large dish. Set aside.

Peel and chop the onions and garlic and tip them in the same pan in which the lamb has been browned, together with the remaining three tablespoons of oil. Add a pinch of course salt to extract some of the liquid from the onions and give them a stir.

When the onions start to soften, add the turmeric for colour, ground ginger, dried chilli, cinnamon and pepper. Give this a mix, then add in the honey, soy sauce and red vermouth.

Now add the lamb shoulder to the pan and pour over the vegetable stock.* The amount of stock here may vary depending on the size of your pan. You want to cover the meat so you might want to add a little bit more. Bring the liquid to the boil, then lower the heat to simmer for approximately one and half hours.

Add the lentils and cook for another 30 minutes or so, preferably uncovered. Check for seasoning. It will be ready when the liquid has slightly reduced.

I served this with some garlic and chilli kale (without the chorizo) on the side and mashed potatoes with plenty of fresh parsley. You will get a good 6 portions, but it can be stretched to 8 servings.


(Recipe adapted from Nigella Bites, Chatto & Windus, 2001.)

Browse through the C&T archive for some festive recipes:

One year ago: Holiday Hot Cake Revisited

Two years ago: Paul Hollywood’s recipe for Banana Bread

Three years ago: Cola Cake

Something Extra (for luck!): Christmas Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Nigella Bites, Chatto & Windus, 2001.)


One thought on “Braised Lamb with Aromatic Spices”

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s