Good olive oil
6 small frenched lamb shanks (5 to 6 pounds total)
3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, such as San Marzano
2 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices of lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and 1-inch-diced
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and 1-inch-diced
1/2 pound sweet potatoes, unpeeled and 1-inch-diced
Couscous, for serving
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a very large (12-to-13-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Pat the lamb shanks dry with paper towels. In batches, add the lamb shanks to the pot and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned. Transfer to a plate and brown the remaining shanks, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Transfer all the shanks to the plate and set aside.
Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more oil, if necessary. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for just 30 seconds. Add the chili powder, turmeric, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon and cook for one minute. Stir in the tomatoes and their liquid, the chicken stock, brown sugar, lime, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the potatoes, butternut squash and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Place the lamb shanks in the pot, spooning some of the sauce and vegetables over the shanks. (They will not be completely submerged.) Cover the pot and bake for 3 hours, until the lamb shanks are very tender. Serve hot with couscous.
Ask your butcher for small lamb shanks, which are from the front legs, rather than the large rear ones. Make-Ahead Plan: Assemble the dish and bake, then refrigerate overnight; reheat on the stove before serving.