Persian Lamb Shanks
Persian Lamb Shanks with Garlic & Eggplant
6 large lamb shanks
3 large onions, thinly sliced & divided
1 tbsp. tumeric
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. salt
3 large eggplants (3 lbs), peeled, cut lengthwise into ¾ inch thick slices
¼ cup olive oil
14 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ tsp. curry powder
⅔ cup tomato paste
½ cup fresh or frozen sour grapes or drained Persian sour grapes in brine (reduce salt in the recipe if using brined grapes)
Place the lamb in a large, heavy pot. Add enough water to cover lamb by 1 inch. Add ⅔ onions, tumeric, pepper and 1 tbsp. salt to pot. Boil 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer lamb until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Drain lamb, reserving 1 ½ cups cooking liquid. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate shanks and reserved liquid separately.)
Place eggplant slices in strainer set in sink. Sprinkle with salt; let drain 1 hour. Pat eggplant dry. Place rack over large rimmed baking sheet. Pour enough vegetable oil into heavy large skillet to reach depth of 1 inch. Heat oil over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Working in batches, carefully slide eggplant into oil and cook until deep golden brown, about 2 ½ minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to prepared rack to drain.
Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add remaining ⅓ of onion and sauté until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic cloves, sauté until onion is translucent, about 18 minutes. Stir in curry powder and tomato paste; sauté 1 minute. Add lamb shanks turning to coat. Tuck tomato wedges between shanks. Add 1 cup reserved lamb cooking liquid and sour grapes. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes, adding more reserved lamb cooking liquid if too dry.
Place lamb shanks in single layer on large platter. Place eggplant slices between shanks. Pour sauce over, serve.
Note: Sour grapes get their punch because they’re picked before they sweeten. Some Middle Eastern markets sell them fresh starting in the spring, or you can find them frozen or pickled (often called ghoureh) year round. Pickled sour grapes can also be purchased online at sadaf.com.