Merguez Lamb Shanks and Chickpeas

Our friends at Chez Us created this North African spiced lamb shank recipe. Merguez is a warm seasoning made using cumin, fennel and coriander seeds, along with cayenne and smoky paprika. According to Denise Woodward from Chez Us, the spice blend is slightly spicy and packs an intense flavor.  A great combination with lamb and chickpeas.


  • 3 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 Tbsp fennel seeds
  • 3 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1 Tbsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 lamb shanks
  • dash kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained


  • Step 1

    In a small frying pan toast the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds over low heat, until lightly toasted. Constantly shake the pan or use a wooden spoon to stir, until the seeds are toasted and fragrant. This will only take 1 - 2 minutes.

  • Step 2

    Remove from the heat, and place into a bowl to cool.

  • Step 3

    Using an old coffee grinder (I have a separate one just for spices), place the toasted seeds, paprika, black pepper, allspice and cayenne pepper. Pulse to mix, then pour into a small glass jar that has a lid.

  • Step 4

    Preheat the oven to 325.

  • Step 5

    Cut the lamb off the top of the bone, pushing it downs towards the meaty area, to create a sort of lollipop.

  • Step 6

    Season the lamb with salt.

  • Step 7

    Place the olive oil in a large frying pan, and then lightly brown the shanks to seal in the juices.

  • Step 8

    Remove the shanks to a plate.

  • Step 9

    Add onion to the frying pan, stir and cook for 3 minutes over low heat.

  • Step 10

    Add the diced tomatoes, the paste and 1 tablespoon of the merguez seasoning. Stir, and cook for a minute. Remove from the heat.

  • Step 11

    Cut large pieces of parchment paper, and place into four deep oven proof bowls.

  • Step 12

    Evenly divide the tomato mixture between the four bowls that have the parchment paper placed into them.

  • Step 13

    After rubbing each shank with 1½ teaspoons of merguez seasoning, place a shank into each cut piece of parchment paper.

  • Step 14

    Scatter the chickpeas between each bowl. Sprinkle another 1½ teaspoons of merguez over each shank and chickpeas.

  • Step 15

    Using cooking twine, tie up each package.

  • Step 16

    Place the bowls on a baking sheet, and place into the oven.

  • Step 17

    Braise the lamb for 1½ hours - 2 hours, until the meat is tender and pulling away from the bones.

  • Step 18

    Remove from the oven, and let stand for 5 minutes.

  • Step 19