Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks are one of the ultimate winter comfort foods, in my opinion. I’ve cooked them a number of ways over the years and enjoyed each and every one of them, but today it was a Middle-Eastern flavour I was craving, so decided to improvise and adapt on a range of recipes in a beloved cookbook of mine – Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’.
‘Fatteh’ / ‘Fatta’ is a general name for a range of dishes that have a layer of toasted flat-bread soaked in stock/sauce at the bottom and a layer of yoghurt on the top. Claudia gives a couple of versions in her book – one with poached chicken and another with stuffed eggplants. All well and good, but surely no match for melt-in-the-mouth lamb shanks!
This is by no means a mid-week, speedily-cooked dinner. It requires a long lazy weekend afternoon of hanging out in the kitchen… though there’s plenty of time once the shanks are on cooking, to read the paper or play boardgames with the kids.
I can’t stress enough how delightful this dish was to sit down to on a winter’s night.
Fatteh Bil Lahme | Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Onion (Thickly Sliced)
- 2 Cloves of Garlic (Chopped)
- 4-6 Free-Range Lamb Shanks
- 2 x 400g Tins Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Allspice
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
- 250g/1 Cup Natural Yoghurt
- 2 Teaspoon(s) Crushed Dried Mint
- 2 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
- 3 Thin Lebanese/Pitta Breads
- 1 x 400g Tin Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- Handful of Fresh Mint (Chopped)
- 40g/4 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
- Recipe from Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’ Cookbook
In a large Dutch Oven (or a large deep saucepan with lid), cook the onion over medium heat in the olive oil (with a little salt) until softened. Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for a minute or two more. Place the lamb shanks into the pot and brown slightly on all sides, before adding the tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper, pomegranate molasses and enough boiling water to just cover the shanks. Cover and simmer for approximately 2 – 2½ hours, until the lamb is practically falling off the bone. Take the lamb shanks from the pan and remove all meat from the bones.
While the lamb is braising, mix together the yoghurt, crushed garlic and dried mint with a pinch of salt and set it aside for later. It is best if this is at room temperature when you are ready to serve.
Toast the lebanese/pitta breads in the oven, or under the grill until crisp and light brown.
In a large serving dish, break up the toasted bread into pieces and scatter them across the bottom of the dish.
Spread the chickpeas over the top of the bread and then layer the shredded lamb over the top of this.
Scoop a number of ladlefuls of the tomato/onion sauce that the lamb was cooking in to fully coat all of the ingredients beneath.
Cover the dish with foil and place into a pre-heated 170°C oven for about 20 minutes until heated through.
While the dish is in the oven, toast the pine nuts carefully in a small frypan until golden. Set aside for the moment.
When you are ready to serve, pour the yoghurt over the top of the dish and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and fresh mint. Serve with plain basmati rice.
Lamb shanks are one of my favorite cuts of meat. This dish looks amaaazing, Margot!
Mine too Patty – I’m always looking for new ways of cooking them! Comfort food at it’s absolute finest! 🙂
Very, very nice and wonderfully delectable and satisfying. 🙂
Thanks Fae… it was everything a meal should be! I’ll be making this dish many, many times in the years to come!
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Margot, this looks delicious! It has been pretty cold in the past few days, even in Sydney! So this dish is just about perfect. We are travelling this weekend so may not have time for a long cooking session, but maybe next weekend.
Thanks Saucy! Love to hear what you think if you do give it a try. If I hadn’t picked up a chicken to roast for tonight, I’d be tempted to make this again – it was so delicious!
Enjoy your weekend away and hope the sun shines wherever you are. 🙂
We were in Canberra, enjoying the bright sun and above zero temperatures! We went to a few cafes and place that have opened up recently, they were really impressive!
How lovely! There have been some great new little places open up on the Canberra scene lately – happy to hear that you enjoyed some of them… and wasn’t the weather fabulous yesterday!? Well… fabulous for Canberra in winter… lovely to sit outside with a coffee soaking up a little sun! 🙂
We had a lovely Sunday morning soaking up the sun, away from rainy Sydney!
I also wanted to ask, if you would be interested in co-hosting Fiesta Friday this week? (Sorry, that’s not much notice, I’ve been disorganised last week.)
Sure, I’d love to! Are we dressing up?? 🙂
Dame Edna style dress up? Would be great!! I’ve always wanted to do that for FF. 🙂
We’re getting into the hottest part of the year over here, so I don’t think I want to hang out by the stove for a long time. But, I’ll definitely have to save this for the cooler months. Looks tasty!
Yes, best to put this recipe aside for at least a couple more months Mary… then I do hope you give it a try! Cheers, Margot
Wow, this dish looks amazing, and I know it would be such a comforting dish on a cold winter’s night. I am pinning this for future cold weekends! I have never heard of pomegranate molasses though – intriguing! I think your dish still looks beautiful, even with the artificial lights.
Thank you Ngan – so kind of you! Pomegranate molasses add a beautiful depth of flavour to the dish, sweet and yet sour too – well worth tracking some down or possibly even making it yourself using fresh pomegranate juice. I really hope you give this recipe a try one day, it’s perfect on a cold evening! 🙂
Mmm delicious! I love using baked pitta in recipes. It’s so tasty but feels so wonderfully frugal. I may have to purchase the cookbook you found this little delight in, if only to cook all these fantastic sounding fattehs! Thanks for enlightening me 🙂
It’s a great cookbook and provides a great assortment of classic Moroccan, Lebanese and Turkish dishes. She has written quite a lot of books, so well worth a look at her others too… though I can’t recommend this one highly enough! Cheers, Margot
Wow sounds right up my street! Thanks!
Ok, I don’t know what just happened but I realize the comment I just left for THIS particular post was added to your polenta crusted roast potatoes post..which is out of this world, btw. An now, to complicate things a little more I am going to leave a link for my spice crusted carrot recipe that I should be leaving as a comment on your potato post! 🙂 I think you may have seen this one, but it certainly is a nice way to enjoy plain o’carrots! Ok, I think I’ve caused enough damage for one day…. Cheers Margot! xx
….here’s the link….
That’s perfect Seana and exactly what I was hoping for – thank you! I purchased some harissa paste not so long ago, so I have all of these ingredients on hand. Cheers, Margot 🙂
This looks like a perfect winter weekend dish and I can just about smell it cooking, although I’m with you on the soggy bread part.
Thanks so very much. I’m looking forward to making this again already! It really was perfect for this time of year. 🙂
Oh Margot, this is the stuff of my dreams. Lovely lovely mouthwatering (for real) recipe!
We all loved this dish Azita! It was so moreish and so tempting to keep taking just one more mouthful – the flavours were fabulous together!
Mouthwatering dish, Margot! It’s rich, tender and aromatic! I do like both lamb and chickpeas. 🙂
Thanks so much! It certainly was all those things… and more. 🙂
funny how in my family growing up we never had pork or lamb and i just cant take them at all.:(
I’m the same with pork… though trying to cook with it more and more, so that at least our children won’t hesitate when they see it on a restaurant menu or are served it up at a friends house for dinner. I think it’s finding ways of cooking it that suit your palate… putting thin slices of lamb rump steaks (that have been marinaded in olive oil, fresh thyme and garlic) on the bbq is one of my favourites – particularly in the summertime! 🙂
Oh crap, I really want that! Maybe this week shall be kind to me…
I hope you get a chance to make it this week sometime – it really is a beautiful dish! 🙂
Claudia Roden is certainly an inspirational cookbook writer, I have most of her books and use them frequently. I tend to agree with your assessment of serving the flatbread on the side, but lamb is always enjoyed in our houseo
I love reading her little anecdotes attached to the recipes too… giving a little more understanding of their background and personal relevance to her. Can I ask which is your favourite book of Claudia Roden’s? Always happy for new cookbook tips! 🙂
I’m pleased that I’m not alone in questioning the flatbread… was thinking that I might be out of line recommending serving as a side. 😉
I would nominate Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food as my constant number 1 cookbook. Her Food of Italy was my Italian cooking primer, 20+ years ago and I still love it!
Thanks for the tips, that’s great to know… I’ll look for them! Cheers, Margot
what a great flavour combination! love lamb.. definitely a recipe i will be making. thanks for sharing another awesome recipe and for the inspiration!
So kind of you Thalia! Thank you. 🙂
I love Fatteh Bil Lahme, Margot 🙂 The first time I ate this dish was at my Lebanese friend’s house and I loved it. Your dish is spectacular, the lamb looks so tender and perfectly cook. Now I’m waiting for your Lebanese home made flat bread 🙂
Hi Linda, I’m hoping that I’ve spelt the name of this dish correctly!? Thanks so very much for your lovely comment. The whole family really enjoyed this meal – with the spices, herbs and the tartness from the yoghurt to cut through the richness – so delicious! It’s great to know that you enjoyed it too! How lovely that you’ve been cooking with lamb and chickpeas too this week! 🙂
Chances are I would’ve agreed with your family re soggy bread (I’m not even keen on bread pudding). That aside, I do like lamb with allspice and yoghurt. Never had it with cinnamon, but that’s bound to be good with the toms and chickpeas. Really lovely combination. Perfect for these autumn nights we’re having! Early.
Oh Johnny, it’s still July! Surely summer hasn’t been and gone for you already… perhaps just running a little late this year?
I’m not sure if you’re back to eating meat yet, but if not this recipe could easily be adapted to include the likes of courgettes, aubergines or other legumes to go along with the chickpeas. We removed any leftover bread from dish after the meal, so as not to have twice-cooked soggy bread in our leftovers for today’s lunch. Next time it will be kept to one side and all will be right in the world! 🙂
This looks delicious Margot, I love the middle eastern flavours. If there are lamb shanks on the menu I always order them – a perfect winter dish! Hope you are having a great weekend 🙂
Thanks very much Karen… me too – I find it hard to go past the lamb shanks on any menu at this time of year! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend too!
Ever since I was a wee kid, lamb was my favorite meat. Slow braised is by far superior for a comforting meal and this beautiful dish has me craving a warm fire and a cold night. Just beautiful…boardgames and all.
I struggle a little with the cold in winter, finding it almost impossible to ever totally feel warm… though dishes like this one make everything all better and for a few hours while it’s cooking and we’re eating, winter is back in the good books and all is perfect in the world!
OMG this is gorgeous, I love lamb shanks and slow braising is the best way to get them nice and tender. Love this dish, the chickpeas, spices all of it absolutely delicious!
So kind of you Suzanne – thank you! Slow braised lamb shanks could be on the menu every week and I’d never tire of them. Looking forward to the leftovers today for lunch! 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!
Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂
It’s such a great book isn’t it? Wonderful recipe and I have to agree, when I first read it, I remember thinking that I’d probably rather serve bread on the side.
Hi Tanya, we’ve absolutely loved every dish that’s been cooked from ‘Arabesque’ – it seems to be such a reliable source of recipes from this part of the world. I know that removing the bread from the bottom of the dish means it won’t stay true to being a ‘Fatteh’, which is a shame… but I know we’d enjoy it all the more for having it on the side.
I’m not a huge fan of lamb, but I have to say that this plate makes me mouth-water. It looks amazing!
It’s interesting that lamb seems to be one of those polarising meats that you either love or hate. In Australia, most of us grow up seeing it on a plate pretty much every week, so it’s a flavour that’s always been there. Pork on the over hand was rarely cooked by my Mum and funnily enough I tend to shy away from it even now too. Happy that this dish made your mouth water though – we all really loved it and found it hard to stop eating. 🙂