East African

Braised Lamb & Okra Stew From Flavors From Afar

August 20, 2020
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 4 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Serves 4, generously
Author Notes

This lamb stew—inspired by the Eritrean staple, zigni—was developed collaboratively by Menal Kidane, Jalen Bennett & Christian Davis of Los Angeles restaurant, Flavors from Afar. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 4 lamb shanks (1 to 1 1/4 lb each)
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups white wine or red wine vinegar
  • Oil (canola or olive)
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced into 1/8-inch strips
  • 4 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 6 garlic cloves; 3 smashed and 3 minced (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon green coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Garlic salt, to taste
  • Onion salt, to taste
  • 6 bay leaves, 3 whole and 3 crushed (divided)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 okra, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
  • 2 cups pearl couscous
  1. Place lamb shanks in a large mixing bowl. Coat them in lemon juice and vinegar blend to help reduce gamey flavor. Set lamb aside.
  2. In a small spice grinder, combine the tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of pepper, the whole coriander seeds, the ground coriander, the cinnamon, the onion and garlic salt, and the cumin seeds. Blend until combined into a fine powder.
  3. Remove the lamb shanks from the lemon and vinegar mixture and cover with the spice blend. Cover seasoned lamb with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours and, if you’d like, overnight.
  4. After the lamb shanks have marinated and you’re ready to cook them, heat the oven to 350°F.
  5. In a large Dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat until the oil shimmers. Add the spiced lamb shanks and brown them, 4 to 6 minutes on each side.
  6. Once the lamb shanks are brown and have a good crust, add the onions, tomatoes, smashed garlic, crushed bay leaves, 2 whole bay leaves, thyme, and chicken broth.
  7. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for about 3 hours, checking for tenderness every 45 minutes.
  8. Once the lamb is tender and completely cooked, add the okra to dutch oven and allow to cook for roughly 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. For a thicker broth, remove the lid from the dutch oven and allow the liquid to cook down for an additional 30 to 35 minutes.
  10. While the lamb is braising, make the couscous. In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of oil until it shimmers. Add the chopped garlic and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic is golden-brown and fragrant.
  11. Add the two cups of couscous, a few hefty pinches of salt to taste, and a whole bay leaf to the pan, stirring constantly to toast the couscous for 3 to 5 minutes.
  12. Once the couscous is toasted, add 3 to 4 cups of water to the pot, cover it, and turn the heat down to medium-low.
  13. Let the couscous cook until it’s reached your desired tenderness. When complete, leave the couscous covered and remove from the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes, covered.
  14. To serve, divide couscous among 4 plates and place one lamb shank on top. Coat dish in broth that the shanks are resting in.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jessie Chen
    Jessie Chen
  • Doylehr

2 Reviews

Jessie C. December 7, 2020
For some reason it turned out quite sour, I'm not sure if it was the tomatoes or I soaked the lamb for too long. Other than that it was good
Doylehr November 13, 2020
Very flavorful, warm, welcoming, home style dish. The lamb was fall off the bone tender and the broth was lushly spiced. I am not sure I needed to soak the lamb in lemon and red wine vinegar since I don't find lamb too gamey. Since the lamb and broth were so savory I skipped the step of adding spices to the couscous and just made it plain, and I don't think skipping that took anything away from the dish.