Moroccan spiced lamb shanks with preserved lemon and prunes

Moroccan spiced lamb shanks with preserved lemon and prunes
  • Serves icon Serves 4
  • Time icon Ready in 2½ hours

This spicy Moroccan lamb main course has all the flavours of North Africa – it’s sweet, lemony and smoky all at once. An ideal dish for the weekend, when you’ve time to just let it slowly cook.


  • 4 lamb shanks or 1.1kg diced lamb
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1½tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp harissa paste, or minced red chilli from a jar
  • 2 tbsp Billington’s Light Muscovado Sugar
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 litres hot lamb stock
  • 1 small preserved lemon, chopped, or 3 strips of lemon zest
  • Pinch of saffron strands
  • 250g soft prunes
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and chopped


  1.  Season the lamb shanks or diced lamb with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then dust lightly with plain flour. Heat half the oil in a large, deep flameproof casserole in which the shanks will fit snugly, add the meat and fry until they are nicely browned on all sides or the diced lamb in batches. Lift out and set aside on a plate.
  2. Add the rest of the oil and the onion to the pan and fry until the onion is golden brown. Add the garlic, ground cumin, coriander and ginger, paprika and harissa paste or minced chilli and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the flour, the sugar, tomatoes, stock and preserved lemon or lemon zest strips and bring to the boil. Return the lamb shanks or diced lamb to the pan, bring the sauce back to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3.  Uncover the casserole and simmer for a further 1 hour, turning the shanks over every now and then so that they cook evenly.
  4.  Meanwhile, put the saffron into a small bowl and cover with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Leave to soak.
  5. Skim the excess fat from the surface of the sauce, increase the heat a little and add the saffron water. Simmer more vigorously for 30 minutes, adding the prunes 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, until the sauce has reduced and thickened and the lamb is tender.
  6.  Scatter the lamb with the coriander and serve with some couscous or mashed potatoes.


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