Coconut and Tamarind Braised Lamb Shanks Recipe

by katerina on December 16, 2011

Consider this recipe an Indian curried lamb shank with a twist. The spicing includes the familiar turmeric, cumin, coriander, and heat you would expect in an Indian curry but the coconut milk and lack of ginger give it an almost Thai flavour.

Indian and Coconut Braised Lamb Recipe

Do you ever cook for people with dietary restrictions? This recipe was developed to feed an allergy prone friend; it has no dairy, soy, corn, wheat, eggs, ginger, tomatoes or potatoes and is served on allergy friendly quinoa. After struggling over ideas I have a new respect for all those people with dietary restrictions and developing allergy-friendly recipes.

Print Recipe

Coconut and Tamarind Braised Lamb Shanks

(serves 4)

salt and freshly ground pepper
4 lamb shanks, trimmed and silver skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 cloves garlic, minced to a fine paste
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup stock or water
fresh cilantro

Sprinkle the lamb shanks on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and when it shimmers add the lamb shanks in one layer. Brown well on all sides and remove to a plate.

In the meantime in a medium dutch oven heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to medium heat and add the onion. Cook the onion until golden brown.

Toast the cumin and coriander lightly over a low flame until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and pulverize until a fine powder. Combine with turmeric, curry powder, and garlic paste. (Tip: if you haven't figured out how to make garlic paste with a chefs knife, try using a microplane to grate the garlic!)

Turn on oven to 325F.

Add the garlic and spic mixture to the onions along with the fresh tamarind. Stir for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is very fragrant and garlic is browning but not burned. Stir in the honey, coconut milk and stock and bring to a gently simmer. Taste the sauce and add at least 1 teaspoon of salt Nestle the shanks into the pot and cover. Transfer to the oven and cook, stirring and turning the lamb shanks occasionally until nice and tender - about 2-3 hours. Remove the shanks from the pot and skim the fat from the top of the sauce. (Note: you can make this a day ahead and refrigerate to remove the fat)

Return shanks to the pot. Finely chop the cilantro and stir throughout the sauce. Serve hot.

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 200 minutes | Total Time:220 minutes
Calories(approximate per serving): 700

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie @BananasForBourbon December 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

Oh man, that sounds amazing! Love that you served it over quinoa. :) Do you have a suggested place to find tamarind paste? I know my store has fresh tamarind, so I’ve considered making my own paste?


katerina December 16, 2011 at 11:15 am

@Julie well I am able to find it at an asian market, but an Indian one is even better.

I have never seen fresh tamarind for sale before, that’s neat, you should totally make your own! Here is an article I found on it:


Kevin (Closet Cooking) December 31, 2011 at 11:46 am

Now that is a tasty looking piece of lamb! Tamarind is an ingredient that I do not use nearly often enough.


Shef April 15, 2012 at 10:37 am

Amazing Recipe! This turned out really well.


katerina April 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Awesome, glad to hear it @Shef!


Shef January 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Still love this recipe. We’ve actually converted it into a pressure cooker recipe which makes it much quicker to cook.

Keep all of the recipe the same, but put it all in a pressure cooker for 1 hour!!! We’ve made it twice now, revising the time from 45 minutes to 60 minutes. Lamb is still fall off the bone delicious.


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