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Lamb Shanks with Rice and Fava Beans

This recipe, from "Food of Life" cookbook author Najmieh Batmanglij, is a Persian New Year specialty that symbolizes spring fertility and renewal.

  • servings: 6




For the Lamb Shanks

  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 6 (3/4- to 1-pound) lamb shanks, rinsed and pat dry
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron
  • 1 cube sugar
  • 1/4 cup rose water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons advieh (Persian spice mix)

For the Rice

  • 3 cups long-grain basmati rice
  • 2 pounds fresh or 1 pound frozen fava beans, shelled
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron
  • 1 cup canola oil or clarified brown butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 cups fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 10 pieces baby green garlic, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced on the bias, plus 3 pieces tied together in a knot
  • Plain yogurt, for serving
  • Bitter orange, for serving


  1. Step 1

    Cook the meat: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Step 2

    Heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. In a small bowl, mix together 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, turmeric, and flour. Lightly dredge lamb shanks in salt mixture, shaking off excess. Add to Dutch oven and cook lamb on all sides until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

  3. Step 3

    Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to Dutch oven; add onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until soft and translucent. Place saffron and sugar cube in a mortar and add rose water; using a pestle, grind until dissolved. Transfer saffron-rose water mixture to Dutch oven along with honey, orange zest, lime juice, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and advieh; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

  4. Step 4

    Return lamb shanks to Dutch oven; add 1 cup water and cover. Transfer to oven and bake for 2 hours. Turn lamb shanks and re-cover; continue baking until lamb is tender and falling off the bone, about 1 hour more. Remove from oven and keep warm until ready to serve.

  5. Step 5

    Make the rice: Place rice in a large bowl and add enough warm water to cover; drain and repeat process 4 more times. Set rice aside. If using fresh fava beans, shell and remove outer layer of skin; if using frozen, soak in warm water and remove second skin. Set aside.

  6. Step 6

    Bring 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large nonstick saucepan. Add rinsed rice, cardamom pods, and 2 tablespoons rose water; let boil, gently stirring to loosen grains of rice that have adhered to the bottom, until rice is soft and has risen to the surface, about 8 minutes. Drain in a large fine mesh sieve and rinse with 2 cups water; reserve saucepan.

  7. Step 7

    Place saffron in a mortar and add rose water; using a pestle, grind until dissolved. In a large bowl, mix together 1/2 cup oil and milk, 1 teaspoon saffron-rose water mixture, and 2 1/2 cups drained rice. Spread mixture over the bottom of saucepan, pressing with a spatula to make even. Add fava beans, dill, and chopped green garlic to remaining rice in colander; toss to combine. Using a spatula, gently transfer to saucepan, forming a mound. Sprinkle with remaining saffron-rosewater mixture; cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

  8. Step 8

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup warm water; pour over rice mixture in saucepan. Top with knotted green garlic and season with salt. Wrap the lid of the saucepan with a clean kitchen towel and cover saucepan firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Decrease heat to low and cook for 70 minutes. Remove from heat and place saucepan on rimmed baking sheet lined with a damp kitchen towel; let cool for 10 minutes. Do not uncover.

  9. Step 9

    Uncover and remove knotted garlic; set aside. Using a wooden spatula, loosen the crust from the bottom of the saucepan. Place a large platter over the top of the saucepan; invert saucepan to remove rice. Garnish rice with knotted garlic and serve with lamb, yogurt and bitter orange.

The Martha Stewart Show, March 2011



Reviews (5)

  • 8 Nov, 2013

    None of the 4 reviews actually seem to review the recipe after making it so I hope this helps.

    I made it from the cookbook and it's amazing. I used the authors adviah recipe but I'm sure you can google one if you don't have the book.
    I'm not persian but the rosewater did not seem out of place in this savory recipe - it gives an amazing aroma.

    I couldn't find green garlic but it still came out great. I made it twice so far

  • 21 Apr, 2013

    I have this cookbook and this recipe seems to overly complicate what is in the book and add a bunch of extra ingredients that have no place in a savoury dish. Rose water is traditionally used in desserts only....advieh 1/2 tsp for 6 servings? Why even bother if you do not already have it in your pantry. I love this cookbook and this dish but this recipe does neither justice.

  • 10 Feb, 2013

    I would not get hung up on the advieh. Most Persian cooking uses very simple seasoning ( salt, pepper, turmeric and the occasional light touch of cinnamon). You can drop the advieh with little impact to the final product,

  • 7 Sep, 2011

    To the previous reviewer: you can buy ready made Advieh in any Persian grocery store and Mrs Batmanglich has the exact recipe for the Advieh in her New food of life book:It consists of a few different spices Like Turmeric ,Cinnamon,pepper .A great advieh can be made by using one tablespoon of Indian Curry powder and a Teaspoon of Turmeric and you have your own blend.

  • 14 Aug, 2011

    Loved the recipe but found very unfair the author didn't give the recipe for Advieh (the persian spice mix), so I'm not buying her book. She at least could have given on the recipe posted. She was very particular in not giving it away. She said she brought one she made for Martha Stewart. If this is a persian mix, there's no point making the recipe if it's not going to taste right. Since she gave the recipe on TV, she must have given it properly.