Give me your best Lamb Curry!
September 15, 2016 2:36 PM   Subscribe

I need a recipe for a fantastic lamb curry that would be fit for a milestone birthday dinner.

The beau's birthday is coming up, and every year, I ask him to tell me what kind of fabulous dinner he'd like. This year, he wants a knock your socks off lamb curry. I've made curries before, and I've made lamb curry before, but they were mostly toss this, do that, have dinner.

I have a well-stocked kitchen, access to Asian and Middle Eastern markets, and intermediate-to-advanced cooking skills. I'm fully prepared to mail order whole spices to make my own spice blend if I need to.

All I need is a great recipe, technique, tip, or trick to making it. So, give me your best lamb curry recipes, so I can make the best curry we've ever eaten.
posted by PearlRose to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a Madhur Jaffrey recipe that I've had great success with and have also passed on to several friends who have also reported very good results. Don't worry about the length of the instructions - Jaffrey just likes to be really clear:
Lamb with onions (Lamb do piaza -- literally lamb with two onions)
4 medium onions, peeled
7 cloves garlic, peeled
1 inch cube of fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
425 ml water
1 inch stick of cinnamon
10 whole green cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
1 kg and 125 g boned lamb, preferably from the shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes with most of the fat removed
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds (you would need to buy coriander powder ready made (should get at the store) or lightly dry fry the whole seeds and then grind)
2 tsp ground cumin seeds (same as above -- would recommend that you just get the coriander and cumin powders -- easier)
6 tbsp plain yogurt, beaten lightly
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
~1.25 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala (spice blend you should be able to get at store)

Cut three of the onions into halves lengthwise, and then cut them, crosswise, into very fine half rings. Chop the fourth onion finely. Keep separate.
Put the garlic and ginger into the container of an electric blender or food processor. Add 100 ml of the water and blend until fairly smooth.
Heat the oil in a wide, heavy saucepan over medium-high flame. When hot, put in the finely sliced onions. Stir and fry for 10-12 minutes or until the onions turn a nice reddish-brown color (don't skimp on this step). You may have to turn the heat down somewhat towards the end of the cooking period. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and spread them on a plate lined with paper towels (or clean brown paper).
Put the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves into the hot oil. Stir for about 5 seconds over medium-high heat. Now put in 8-10 cubes of meat, or as many as the saucepan can hold easily in a single, loosely-packed layer. Brown the meat on one side. Turn it over and brown the opposite side. Remove the meat cubes with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. Brown all the meat this way, removing each batch as it gets done.
Put the chopped onion into the remaining oil in the saucepan. Stir and fry it on medium heat until the pieces turn brown at the edges. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Stir and fry it until all the water in it seems to boil away and you see the oil again. Turn the heat down a bit and add the coriander and cumin. Stir and fry for 30 seconds. Now add 1 tbsp of the yogurt. Stir and fry until it is incorporated into the sauce. Add another tbsp of yogurt. Stir and fry incorporating this into the sauce as well. Add all the yogurt this way, a tbsp at a time. Now put in all the meat and any accumulated juices in the meat bowl, with the remaining water, the cayenne and salt. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low and cook for about 45 minutes or until the lamb is tender. Add the fried onion and the garam masala. Stir to mix. Cook, uncovered, for another 2-3 minutes, stirring gently as you do so.
Turn off the heat and let the pan sit for a while. The fat will rise to the top. Remove it with a spoon.
posted by peacheater at 2:47 PM on September 15, 2016 [12 favorites]

Best answer: The one major tip/trick for making any kind of curry ever is tadka, or tempering. Basically you fry spices (usually in my experience at least mustard seeds and curry leaves, but exactly what spices vary based on recipe) very quickly in ghee and then throw them in to the rest of the curry right at the end of cooking. It contributes a very different flavor profile than just throwing them in while the curry is cooking, and is the difference between a good curry and a great curry
posted by Itaxpica at 3:12 PM on September 15, 2016

Peacheater beat me to it. This recipe is awesome. I usually put a couple curry leaves in mine, when I put the lamb in to cook, and 1/3 cup of raisins during the last 20 minutes of simmering.

If you want it to taste more like a korma, grind up 1/4 cup each of cashews and almonds with the ginger and garlic.
posted by ananci at 3:13 PM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Update: looking at the recipe the 'Put the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves into the hot oil. Stir for about 5 seconds over medium-high heat' step is the tadka; I usually do a separate tadka and throw it in right at the end but what Jaffrey is doing here works great too)
posted by Itaxpica at 3:15 PM on September 15, 2016

I am a big fan of April Bloomfield's lamb curry.
posted by saeculorum at 3:24 PM on September 15, 2016

Nigella Lawson's "Lamb Maharaja" from "Feast" is specifically aimed at this purpose.
posted by rongorongo at 3:31 PM on September 15, 2016

Best answer: My favorite by far is this Lamb Roganjosh recipe by Madhur Jaffrey. I do everything as described, except for using less oil (I don't need ten tablespoons to brown the lamb) and less water (since slow cookers don't evaporate as much), then put everything into a slow cooker for several hours until the lamb is tender. I like this recipe so much that I bought a used copy of the book it's from, Indian Cooking, and have since been working my way through a great many of the recipes.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 4:53 PM on September 15, 2016

If you want something more visually impressive (and you’re cooking for more than two people), there’s a recipe for a Kashmiri roast leg of lamb in Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook which is nice. But it serves 8.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:59 AM on September 16, 2016

"Curry" somewhat loosely defined, but explore rendang. (I'm afraid I don't have a favorite recipe - I just cook lamb shanks in coconut milk with spices.)
posted by Dotty at 6:55 AM on September 16, 2016

Best answer: A quick note on the recipe I posted above: I typed this up for a friend for everyday use and wrote that they could use ready to use coriander powder and cumin powder. For a special occasion though, it would be worthwhile to lightly toast the coriander and cumin seeds (separately) until fragrant but not burnt and use a coffee/spice grinder or mortar and pestle to make a powder. You will get a better flavor that way.
posted by peacheater at 7:52 AM on September 16, 2016

Best answer: The specific Rogan Josh recipe linked above by artistic verisimilitude is the reason I got into Indian cooking 25 years ago. It's utterly fantastic, subtle, and has a savory combination of flavors that are somehow simultaneously intriguing and mysterious and yet immediately appealing to many people's palates.
posted by werkzeuger at 12:05 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found the method highlighted by the Kitchn to be eye-opening, whether you use that specific recipe or not.
posted by spelunkingplato at 5:15 PM on September 16, 2016

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