Persian cuisine is renowned for its rich flavours, fragrant spices, and slow-cooked dishes that tantalise the taste buds. One such masterpiece is the Persian Lamb Shank, also known as Mahiche. This tender and aromatic dish has its roots in ancient Persia, now modern-day Iran. Let’s delve into the origins of this delectable dish and discover how it is prepared in Persian restaurants.
- Origins of Persian Lamb Shank (Mahiche)
- Chef Approved Tips:
- The Secret Ingredient for Persian Lamb Shank
- How to make Iranian Lamb Shank
- What can I serve alongside Persian Lamb Shank?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Recipes You Must Try
Origins of Persian Lamb Shank (Mahiche)
The Persian Lamb Shank holds a special place in Iranian culinary traditions. With a history that spans thousands of years, this dish reflects the diversity of Persian culture and the mastery of slow cooking. It is believed to have originated in the royal kitchens of ancient Persia, where lamb was often favored for its succulent meat and distinct flavour.
The slow cooking technique used in preparing Mahiche allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a dish that is tender, aromatic, and deeply satisfying. It has become a staple on Persian dining tables during special occasions, celebrations, and family gatherings, symbolizing warmth, hospitality, and culinary expertise.
A Taste of delicious flavours
Chef Approved Tips:
Preparing Lamb Shank in Persian Restaurants
When it comes to making the perfect Persian Lamb Shank, Persian restaurants follow time-honoured techniques and recipes passed down through generations. Here are some essential steps and tips to achieve a flawlessly slow-cooked lamb shank:
Starting with a clean slate
Begin by rinsing the lamb shanks thoroughly under cold water to remove any impurities or bone fragments. This step ensures a clean and fresh base for your dish.
Removing foam from the pot
As the lamb shanks simmer, a foamy layer may form on the surface. Skim off this foam using a ladle or a slotted spoon to maintain the clarity of the cooking liquid.
The power of onions
Onions play a crucial role in Persian cuisine, adding depth and sweetness to the dish. Use a generous amount of sliced onions to create a flavourful base for the lamb shanks.
The magic of cinnamon
To infuse the dish with a subtle warmth and fragrance, add a cinnamon stick during the final hour of cooking. This will enhance the overall aroma without overpowering the other flavours.
Whole garlic head
Instead of chopping garlic, Persian chefs often opt to use a whole head of garlic. The slow cooking process allows the garlic to mellow and soften, imparting a gentle garlicky flavor to the lamb shanks.
Timing the saffron
Saffron is a prized spice in Persian cuisine, known for its vibrant color and delicate flavour. To preserve its essence, add saffron in the last hour of cooking when the meat is already tender. This prevents the saffron from hardening the meat and maintains its aromatic impact.
The butter factor
Adding a small piece of butter to the cooking liquid is believed to tenderise the meat further. The addition of butter can also contribute a velvety richness to the dish.
Cooked to perfection!
The Secret Ingredient for Persian Lamb Shank
Pomegranate Molasses – One of the key components that elevates the flavours of Persian Lamb Shank is the addition of a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. This tangy and slightly sweet syrup adds a delightful complexity to the dish, balancing the richness of the lamb with its fruity undertones. It’s a secret ingredient that truly sets Mahiche apart. You would never have anyone guessing that it’s been used in the cooking process. The fact that for 1.5 kilogram of meat only one tablespoon is used, truly shows how subtle this it.
I must also add that it not only improves the flavour but it really perfects the colour of the dish.
- 4 lamb shanks
- 3 large onions, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- A pinch of saffron threads or ground
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 50g Unsalted Butter
- Olive oil for cooking
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
How to make Iranian Lamb Shank
- Rinse the lamb shanks under cold water and pat dry.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- You can skip this part or sear the lamb shanks on all sides until browned. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pot, add sliced onions with turmeric and black pepper and cook until softened and golden.
- Return the lamb shanks to the pot with the onions.
- Add 1 litter of water, 2 teaspoons off tomato paste, whole head of garlic, and the butter.
- Skim off any foam that forms on the surface of the liquid as it starts to boil.
- Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
- In a small bowl, brew saffron threads in a tablespoon of warm water and set aside.
- In the last hour of cooking, add the saffron mixture, cinnamon stick, pomegranate molasses and salt.
- Cook for another hour, allowing the flavors to meld together.
- Remove the lamb shanks from the pot and serve with the aromatic cooking liquid.
What can I serve alongside Persian Lamb Shank?
Persian Lamb Shank pairs wonderfully with various accompaniments. Here are a few suggestions:
- Saffron rice – The fragrant and buttery saffron rice complements the flavours of the lamb shank.
- Flatbread or Naan – Serve warm bread to scoop up the tender meat and sauce.
- Persian Shirazi salad – A refreshing salad made with cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and a tangy dressing can balance the richness of the lamb.
- Persian Spinach Yogurt – A cool and creamy yogurt sauce with garlic, mint, and a squeeze of lemon adds a delightful contrast.
- Roasted vegetables – Oven-roasted root vegetables or grilled seasonal veggies make a delicious side dish.
Remember, you can tailor the sides according to your personal preferences and the flavors you wish to highlight alongside the Persian Lamb Shank.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I perfect a slow-cooked lamb shank?
Here are some tips: skim off foam during cooking, use plenty of onions for flavour, add a cinnamon stick in the last hour, include a whole head of garlic, add saffron in the final hour to prevent meat from hardening, and consider using a small piece of butter to tenderise the meat.
2. How should I store leftover Persian Lamb Shank?
Allow the lamb shank to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, gently warm it on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a little water or broth if needed to maintain moisture.
3. What is the ideal cooking time for 1.5 kg of lamb shank?
or 1.5 kg of lamb shank, the cooking time will vary depending on the cooking method. When slow-cooking in a pot or Dutch oven, it generally takes around 3-4 hours for the lamb shanks to become tender and succulent. However, it is always recommended to use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches at least 145°F (63°C).
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Recipes You Must Try
- Persian Saffron Rice With Tahdig
- Pistachio Rose Baklava Cake
- Apple Streusel Handpie
- Pistachio and Pomegranate Turkish Delight
- Classic Nachos with Homemade Cheese Sauce
Persian Lamb Shank (Mahiche)
Olive oil for cooking 2 teaspoons tomato paste
Rinse the lamb shanks under cold water and pat dry.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
You can skip this part or sear the lamb shanks on all sides until browned. Remove and set aside.
In the same pot, add sliced onions with turmeric and black pepper and cook until softened and golden.
Return the lamb shanks to the pot with the onions.
Add 1 litter of water, 2 teaspoons off tomato paste, whole head of garlic, and the butter.
Skim off any foam that forms on the surface of the liquid as it starts to boil.
Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
In a small bowl, dissolve saffron threads in a tablespoon of warm water and set aside.
In the last hour of cooking, add the saffron mixture, cinnamon stick, pomegranate molasses and salt.
Cook for another hour, allowing the flavors to meld together.
Remove the lamb shanks from the pot and serve with the aromatic cooking liquid.