With the onset of cooler weather I tend to use more spices when I’m cooking at home. There’s something incredibly warming about toasting off whole spices and grinding them to make a blend or simply adding them to a dish. There are many good spice blends on the market, but for this slow-cooked meal I’ve made my own ras el hanout for my take on the Moroccan classic of lamb tagine.
Place the coriander, cumin, fennel, pimento, cardamom seeds, cloves, peppercorns, salt and cinnamon into a small frying pan. Heat over a low flame and gently stir until they begin to pop. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little. Using a spice granger or motor and pestle, grind to a powder.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Store in a jar. This will make ¼ cup (you will use 2 tbsp for the lamb shanks).
Preheat oven to 180°C.
To French the shanks, cut a ring about 2 inches down the bone of each shank and remove any sinew, scraping the bone clean. Brown the shanks on all sides and place in the bottom of a casserole or tagine.
Fry the onions and garlic in the same pan until soft, add the ras el hanout and fry for one more minute. Add the stock, oil, honey, currants and seasoning. Bring to a simmer and pour this over the lamb shanks. Cover the casserole or tagine and place into the oven and cook for 3-3½ hours, turning the shanks 2-3 times.
Taste for seasoning and serve sprinkled with the pistachios and couscous or flat bread on the side.