Lamb shanks in citrus sauce

October 26, 2011  •  Category:


This is a medieval Iraqi recipe dug up by  Mrs. Nasrallah in her book Delights from the Garden of Eden. Very simple to put together: The lamb shanks are browned then braised over gentle heat in a sauce of citrus juice and a medley of vegetables and spices.

This recipe would work really well in a crockpot.

Serve with rice, any grains or just some bread. I added potatoes fried in duck fat with a touch of garlic.

I adapted the recipe (added some sugar to the sauce) to make it more palatable to my tasters (Mary, my neighbor and Alice, my daughter); there is a lebanese tradition of cooking meat in citrus sauce (called arnabiyeh) but it is a bit of an acquired taste.

This dish tastes better the next day.

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 pounds of lamb shanks
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 to 6 carrots, shredded or sliced
  • 3 zucchinis, shredded or sliced
  • 1/4 cup of cut-up apricots (dried)
  • 1 cup of fresh orange juice
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar or honey or maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped and mashed in a mortar with a dash of salt
  • Spices: 1 tsp ground anise, 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. of turmeric, 1/2 tsp. of cumin, 1/2 tsp. of cardamom, 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of pepper, dash of chili pepper or smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp. of flour
  • oil, as needed


  1. Sprinkle the anise on the shanks and coat in flour; heat oil in a pan and brown the shanks evenly. Chop the onions and fry in the oil, adding more if needed. Add the garlic and all the spices. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes then add the carrots, zucchini, apricots and stir-fry for a few minutes.
  2. Juice the oranges and lemon and add the juice to the pot along with the shanks and three cups of water. Cover and simmer the shanks for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is so tender it falls off the bone. Remove the bone, cartilage and visible fat and cut the meat into small chunks. Serve the stew with rice, or any other starch.


17 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Velva says:

    The potatoes fried in duck fat…That got my attention. Delicious. Definite comfort food.


  2. Devaki says:

    Oh I am with Velva – the potatoes in duck fat made me smile – it’s just what i’d expect of you:) This is comfort delicious food at its best and youu know how much I LOVE lamb so I’ll fix this soon and keep you posted.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  3. skip to malou says:

    I’ve always been intimidated to cook lamb before but early this year, I was asked to develop lamb recipes using Filipino home style cooking. That’s when I discovered that lamb is flavorful. This is another lamb recipe inspiration. Thank you…

  4. kouky says:

    délicieuses saveurs et jolie découverte!! merci Joumana! très bonne journée!

  5. Rachel K says:

    This sounds delicious – funnily enough a bit like medieval English food (for the aristocrats anyway!) But I’m guessing that this was the middle eastern influence on Norman English food. Lovely, thankyou. I think I know what I’m cooking this Sunday!

  6. Rosa says:

    That dish looks so mouthwatering! I love lamb shanks.



  7. Caffettiera says:

    I’ve always cooked chicken with citrus, I’m intrigued by the idea of using lamb. I think I’ll probably like it, since I like acidic flavours, and there is plenty of spices here to round the flavours up.

  8. Ruby says:

    And I was just saying how I need a slow cooker! I bet the flavours in this are wonderful. I’m going to try and find that book – sounds wonderful.

  9. Barbara says:

    It always amazes me, the number of people who don’t like lamb. We love it. And my other was cooking lamb shanks when I was a kid. I still do. Sometimes slow baked in a wonderful red wine and sometimes just roasted with salt and pepper.
    Nice to have another take on them…with a bit of sweet and some wonderful spices.

  10. Nuts about food says:

    I am always excited to find new ways to make lamb, given it is one of my favorite meats.

  11. 5 Star Foodie says:

    The citrus must add a wonderful and flavorful dimension to the meal, excellent!

  12. Priya says:

    Wat a flavourful dish,makes me hungry.

  13. Joan Nova says:

    Cooking meat with citrus is a very popular technique in Latin America and I love what it does to the flavor of the dish. Though I’ve never tried it with lamb, I’m thinking it adds a level of freshness that will counteract the gaminess some people (not me) dislike about lamb.

  14. domi says:

    Délicieuses saveurs envoûtantes avec ces agrumes et épices….

  15. ayesha says:

    very different and beautiful and ideal for summer parties.i will try this recipe for my next summer party .

  16. Karen Mickleson says:

    Doesn’t the zucchini disintegrate in this dish?

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