Lamb shanks and rice

August 16, 2011  •  Category: ,


This is the quintessential comfort dish, which can be served  with rice or  bulgur (coarse bulgur) or  roasted green wheat (freekeh).

Lamb shanks and chickpeas are  slowly simmered in a lightly spiced broth; rice is then cooked in that broth with pearl onions.

I added some craisins and nuts  to make it more festive.

It is served with a bowl of yogurt on the side.

It can be prepared ahead, which makes it ideal for a party. It can also be made simply with lamb pieces, minus the bones; bones however add flavor to the broth and by extension to the rice.

INGREDIENTS: 8 servings

  • 1 1/2 pound of lamb shanks, either with the bone or boneless (adding bones to the dish gives more flavor to the broth)
  • 1 pound of pearl or cibollini onions
  • 1 Large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of basmati or long-grain rice
  • Spices: 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper (can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoon of seven-spice, 1 teaspoon of allspice, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (or 1/2 cup of dry chickpeas, soaked in water overnight with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup of craisins (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of slivered almonds (optional)
  • Clarified butter or olive oil, as needed
  • 6 cups of water

METHOD: Equipment needed: 1 large pot to cook shanks and rice. 1 skillet to brown the pearl onions and nuts. 1 bowl to soak the chickpeas in overnight. 1 serving platter.

  1. Sprinkle the lamb shanks with the spices; heat a few tablespoons of oil (or clarified butter)and brown the shanks from all sides. Remove the shanks to a plate. Fry the chopped onions until golden in the same pot.
  2. Add to the pot 4 cups of boiling water and place the shanks back in the pot and  simmer gently until tender. If you are using dry chickpeas that have soaked overnight, rinse them and drain them and add them to the shanks  now. The chickpeas will cook with the meat.
  3. In a skillet, heat some oil and brown the pearl or cipollini onions. Remove the onions and set aside. Add the almonds and pine nuts and toast them in the same skillet. Set aside.

To cook the rice: measure the broth, if you have too much, let it boil down, if too little, add some water. (just empty the broth into a measuring cup). You need no more than 3 cups of broth for rice and about 2 cups for bulgur and freekeh,

  1. Add the rice to the lamb shanks in the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes until rice and lamb are thoroughly cooked and tender. If using canned chickpeas, add them along with the rice.
  2. Ten minutes before the end of cooking, add the craisins (if using) and the pearl onions to the pot. Serve the dish with a garnish of toasted nuts and a bowl of yogurt.


13 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. kankana says:

    That looks like an interesting dish and I love lamb any time!

  2. sophia says:

    That whole pearl onion. that is the bomb of the dish! It looks gorgeous and delicious and once again, you really are a genius in putting textures and flavors together into one dish!

  3. 5 Star Foodie says:

    The lamb shank sounds very tasty and I like the colorful additions of cranberries and pine nuts.

  4. Banana Wonder says:

    Mmmmm love the richness of this dish and how you serve it with yogurt. I would like to make it with bulgur.

  5. Rosa says:

    Scrumptious! Lamb shaks are so delicious.



  6. samir says:

    wonderful!!! love this dish.,,the side of tart yogurt to the delicate tender lamb and subtely spiced rice/burghol( i love it with burghol) the nuttiness of the chickpeas,the sweetness of the onion. lets not forget the marrow(everyone fights over that)
    .all so earthy but sublime…we also make it with chicken..braising the shanks for 30 minutes before the addtion of the the grain does seem a a bit short? must have some really young ,tender lamb there.

  7. Jason says:

    This looks delicious! And served with my favourite bugur wheat as well.

  8. Claudia says:

    This is a more festive version for lamb shanks than I normally see. Love making it ahead- but mostly love the addition of the fruit and nuts to make it sing.

  9. Cherine says:

    I love this! Looks wonderful.

  10. Erica says:

    I don’t eat lamb, but that dish sounds delicious!Love the presentation and the addition of fruit and nuts.

  11. Nadji says:

    Encore un plat et on a tout le moyen-orient dans notre assiette.
    A très bientôt

  12. Moomoo says:

    Will be using cumin, and white pepper as I dont have 7 spice. That ok? Is that cumin powder or seeds? Seems a lot
    I have drooled over your website for years. And every time there is news in Lebanon, I think of this blog. Wondering how it affects you, your family. Is that weird?

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