Indonesian-style Coconut and Lamb Shank Curry

, from Issue #104. July, 2022
Photography by Olivia Galletly.
Indonesian-style Coconut and Lamb Shank Curry

Falling-off-the-bone tender lamb shanks in a rich and fragrant coconut sauce. Best served with loads of roti.

Serves: 4


2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer skin removed, finely chopped
3cm piece ginger, chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 red chillies

2 tablespoons neutral oil
4 lamb shanks, roughly 1.5 kilograms
6 shallots, halved
6 cardamom pods, toasted
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups chicken stock
400ml tin coconut cream
1 makrut lime leaf
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 tablespoon each tamarind paste and brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 dried red chillies
80 grams desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon each lime juice and brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 160°C regular bake.

PASTE: Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor.

CURRY: In a large ovenproof casserole dish, heat the oil over a medium heat. Brown the shanks on all sides, then set aside. Reduce the heat to low, add the paste the pan and fry for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the shallots, cardamom pods and ground spices and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the lamb, stock, coconut cream, lime leaf, cinnamon, star anise, tamarind, brown sugar, sea salt and chillies and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Toast the coconut in a frying pan over a medium heat until golden, then set aside. Remove the lamb from the curry, set aside and cover with foil. Increase the oven to 180°C regular bake. Add the coconut, lime juice and sugar to the curry and season with salt. Return to the oven for 15 minutes, uncovered. Once thickened, return the shanks to the curry and return to the oven briefly to warm through.

If you can’t roar out to the shops while this dish cooks to buy the Yealands Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2020 ($27), fossick around online to secure a bottle beforehand. Bright, cherry-centric and velvety, it’s ferociously tasty with the tamarind and ginger in this curry.

Yealands Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2020