Overnight Lamb Shanks with Figs and Honey

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Aden, on the Yemeni coast, is the Mongolia’s final port of call before Fogg sets sail for India. Verne calls it ‘the Gibraltar of the Indian Ocean’ and like Gibraltar, Aden acts as a kind of gateway between two cultures — Arabia and India — and the influence of both is discernible in this dish. Sweet and aromatic, like Nigella, these lamb shanks create the most delicious smell and taste just as good.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 lamb shanks
  • 1kg/2lb 2oz onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 x 425g tin of pumpkin purèe
  • 450 g/1 lb dried figs
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken up
  • 75ml/3fl oz runny honey
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 500ml/17fl oz water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

You’ll need a very large pan for this very large stew. First, heat the oil in your pan and brown the shanks in batches. Set them aside. Add the onions, garlic and herbs and fry them gently in the oily pan until the onion is soft, not coloured.

Add the pumpkin purée, figs, allspice, cinnamon sticks, honey, wine and water. Stir well and bring to the boil. Put the shanks into the boiling liquid, turn down the heat and simmer for 1½ hours, partially covered.

Pop the pan on a window-sill, or somewhere cool, and leave until cold. Use a slice or spoon or even your hands to remove the layer of fat that will have formed over the surface of the stew.

The following day, reheat the stew gently and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Serve with rice cooked with turmeric and sprinkled, on serving, with pomegranate seeds.

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