Braised Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Indian Spices
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 lamb shanks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 cups dry red wine
4 cups chicken stock
4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
One 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint or cilantro leaves (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325°. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the onion to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until very thick, 2 minutes. Add the red wine and boil for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cloves, cardamom, coriander, cumin and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Add the lamb and any accumulated juices and cover. Braise in the oven for 2 hours, turning once, until the meat is very tender.
Transfer the lamb to a bowl and cover with foil. Strain the braising liquid into a large skillet and skim off the fat. Boil over high heat until reduced to 2 cups, 20 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the lamb to the skillet, cover and simmer over low heat, turning the shanks a few times, until heated through, 3 minutes. Transfer the shanks and sauce to a shallow bowl and garnish with the mint or cilantro (if using) and serve.