4 lamb shanks (pre-season with salt to leave in fridge uncovered for 2 hours, if possible)
2 medium white onions, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
½tsp cumin seeds
¼tsp fennel seeds
4 cardamom pods, crushed
5cm piece cinnamon stick
¼tsp ground black pepper
2tbsp tomato paste
450ml chicken or vegetable stock
14 dried figs
450g boiling water
Salt and pepper, to taste
A cast iron casserole or oven proof dish is perfect for this recipe, as it means all cooking can be done in one dish. Place on a medium to high heat and when hot, add 1tbsp Olive Oil. Season the lamb shanks (if not pre seasoned) then place in the pot and brown off on all sides.
Heat an oven to 160C/Fan 150C/Gas Mark 3. Remove the shanks from the pot onto a plate. Add 1tsbp of Olive Oil to the pot and then add onions, garlic and spices, scraping off any caramelised nuggets. Turn the heat down to avoid burning the garlic and cook gently until softened and sweet.
Add the Urfa Chilli Paste, cook for a minute, then add the tomato paste and cook for a further minute, stirring to avoid burning. Add the stock and stir to mix through. Add the lamb along with any juices and the dried figs then bring to a simmer. Cover with baking paper and a lid and put in the oven or on a low setting on the stove for 2 hours.
Remove from the oven and check to see if the meat is coming away from the bone. If it is not, cook for longer. Once cooked, allow to cool with the lid off for 5 minutes then skim off any excess oil.
Return the pot to the stove on a medium heat so the liquid simmers and keep basting the shanks as the sauce reduces for around 5 minutes. Now return to the oven for 10 minutes to brown the surface. Remove from the oven and let rest whilst you cook the Rice.
Place a medium-sized saucepan (that has a tight-fitting lid) on a medium heat and when hot, add 1tbsp Olive Oil and the Rice. Stir to coat the Rice and toast the grains for 1 minute. Season with salt then add the boiling water. Be careful as the water will often boil vigorously when it hits the pan. Stir to mix the water and rice then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cover with a piece of tucked in piece of baking paper and the lid. Cook on low for 15 minutes then turn the heat off and leave for a further 5 minutes.
Divide the Rice between plates then top with a lamb shank and figs and a generous amount of cooking liquid.