Braised Lamb Shank in Massaman Curry - in 30 minutes...and the return of the PC

Friday, May 27, 2011

(I have added the recipe further down below and some idea of how the PC can be used to cook this dish)

When my Mum-in-law and I had to cook a few lamb dishes during Christmas last year, I thought up this idea of ordering some Dorper Lamb pieces. They were fabulous and we may do it again this Christmas. 

I had some pieces of lamb shanks and shoulder that have been sitting in my freezer since then. I have put off braising lamb shanks because it has to be slow cooked to perfection, and that may take two hours or more.

I finally cooked it. The cooking time was 30 minutes.

How is that possible. You might have guessed.

Dorper Lamb Shank

It is oft said to be one of the most underrated kitchen gadgets. By now, you may have heard of reports on the very expensive cookbook, "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking." It is a 6-volume masterwork which consists of five thick volumes and a ring-bound recipe book, 2438 pages all in all. One of the editors made a comment which caught my attention: "One of the most underrated kitchen tool is the Pressure Cooker."

And I remembered that my mum-in-law has a handsome looking PC stored in her cupboard and unused.

So, I finally made a decision to make my braised lamb shank and test out the PC.

I tested it over two dinner dishes.

I made Braised Lamb Shanks in 30 minutes. And hear this: Roasted Lamb Shoulder in 15 minutes.

And while at it, the same pot cooks the root veg - onions, potatoes etc.

How much is a PC? Depending on the brand and type, it ranges between S$90 to $200. Even your Ipod or Zen costs more than that.

How safe is it?

With a safety pressure equalizing valve, some simple common sense, in using the modern designed PCs, I do not see why there are worries re safety issues. Some are also induction friendly. Which means that if you are afraid that you will doze off (in spite of the hissing sound), you can time the cooking using your induction cooker. Read the manual. Get used to the extra steps and some "button management." Some learning to be done but once you get the hang of it, it is smooth sailing.

Henceforth, you will reclaim two-thirds of your cooking life. (Generally, the PC cooks in about a third of the traditional cooking time)

In its place, you can sweep the floor, wash the dishes, iron your clothes and change the toilet paper. Everything that will keep your wife happy. Or if you are a female, after cooking, take a nap, go to the gym etc. When your hubby is back, he comes home to a relaxed and happy wife, instead of a stressed out and frazzled housewife, frantically getting the dishes ready.

Or throw a party for your guests and save some time for other things (when cooking for a party, every minute you save means you can deal with something else) because the PC makes short work of your dishes.

Cheap. Safe. Fast.

How about the outcome? You are probably aware that slow cooking is a technique about bringing out the flavours of the ingredients. It cannot be rushed. You cannot do a good chicken stock by boiling in high flame and hope to get it done in 20 minutes. But with PC, you can because the technique used brings out the flavours of the ingredients in a way similar to the results of slow-cooking.

Convinced yet?


Beef Rendang in 20 minutes.
Curry Chicken in 15
Tau Yew Bak in 15
Char Siew in 15
Braised potatoes in 5
A good chicken stock in 30
Bak Kut Teh in 20

What other dishes can you think of?

And it is not just about stews and soups. You can even make grilled pork ribs once you figure out the versatility of this gadget. And bake a cake!

You do not need a lot of liquid or oil. And you save on gas or electricity. Very green.

By the way, this is not an advert post. I am just sharing this bit of info to help you cook faster.

PC technology has been around since the last century. And I predict that this tool will be making a comeback in many homes.It will be in mine.

Braised Lamb Shanks in 30 minutes. All done in the pot.

Borrow a PC from someone and convince thyself.

I heard that there is a large section on using the PC in the Modernist Cuisine cookbook.

Since I can't steal, I will beg or borrow. And whether you think you are old-fashioned (after all, your grandma may have used it) or a modernist cook, the PC is a gadget you can work with.

P.S. By the way, the lamb dishes turned out superb. I am not a fan of braised Lamb shanks as I like to chew my meat. But it tasted like, well, braised lamb shanks dishes that I have tried in the past in restaurants. I like the 'roast' lamb, and even more because it was done in 15. 

Braised Lamb Shank in Massaman Curry 


2 pieces of Lamb Shank

4 pieces of potatoes
2-3 pieces of large red onions

3 tablespoon of Massaman Curry Paste 
1 tablespoon of Palm Sugar (Or use white sugar)
1 tsp of salt 
2 tablespoon of tamarind paste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Some oil

Tamarind paste. I use the seeded ones. Soaked in some hot water.
Then press in a colander to release the juice. You can also use your hands.  


  1. Heat up some oil in the Pot.
  2. Brown the Lamb Shanks. About 3 minutes per side. Take out of the pot. 
  3. Add the Matsaman curry paste, salt, tamarind paste and palm sugar to the pot and stir fry for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add one and a half glasses of water. After the water is heated up,, return the lamb to the pot.
  5. Close the lid. After 1 or 2 minutes, you will hear the hissing sound. Lower the flame.
  6. At the 20 minute mark, switch of the flame and release the pressure. Add the onions and potatoes.
  7. After another 10 minutes, the dish is done. Salt and pepper to taste. Served garnished with coriander leaves. 

I bought my Matsaman curry paste from the supermart at Golden Mile Complex. You can use other kinds of dry curry paste with this dish. 

Using the pressure cooker:
There are some variations depending of course on the model.There will be a hissing sound when the pressure cooking is on. If you have closed the lid properly, this will happen. When you need to open the lid, it won't open unless the pressure is released. Just open the valve to release the pressure as per instructions.

Just read the manual. The model I used has only 3-4 pages of simple instructions. Quite a no-brainer. If you are experimenting with the PC for the first time, start with some basic recipes (like chicken stock). The PC normally come with some basic recipes which you can use first. 

Beautiful - Matsaman curry Lamb


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  1. Hi, what is the brand of PC you used?
    I saw an advertisement for Silit Sicomatic econtrol pressure cooker. Have you heard any feedback from friends using it?

  2. I am using Tefal. I think most of the recent brands will work okay. I have not come across Silit or heard any feedback from my friends.

    check these link:

  3. Hi I'm planning to get a pressure cooker soon but hesitating over the 6L or 8L. What's the size you have? Thanks.


  4. I only bought a pressure cooker recently and I'm loving it! It saves me lots of time and my food is delicious! A pressure cooker is really not that intimidating to use. If you don't know which one to buy, go browse pressure cooker reviews. This site explain all the pros and cons and help you find one to suit your budget.