Indian Lamb Curry
Authentic North Indian Lamb Curry with lamb shoulder, spices, yogurt and aromatics. Stove top & Instant pot methods included.
- 1 lb (~450g) lamb (leg or shoulder, cut into 2.5 inch pieces)
- 2 tablespoon oil mustard or cooking oil
- ½ cup onions chopped
- 1 large tomato
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- ⅓ cup yogurt plain
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 1.5 teaspoon ghee optional
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder or paprika
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder or cayenne (adjust to taste). I use extra hot red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 3 dried kashmiri chillis or add 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 black cardamom , use green cardamom if you have those
- 1 twig mace , skip if not available
- 6 cloves
- 1.5 teaspoon cumin seeds
If you are cooking lamb on stove top, a wide mouthed dutch oven or the heaviest pot or kadai (with lid) is the best utensil to cook it. Heavy utensil makes sure that the heat conducts better and the meat cooks evenly.
Set the Dutch oven on a medium stove and add oil. Let oil warm up. Once the oil is warm, add all the whole spices (except cumin) and saute for 10-20 seconds taking care not to let them burn. Note:- If you are using mustard oil, make sure that you let heat till its a little smoky. Add the onions next and brown the onions on low medium heat. The browning process takes anywhere between 8 to 12 minutes. We want to brown them to a dark shade but don't let onions get black. Tip:- While browning the onions, avoid stirring them too much. Do keep a close eye. The less you stir them, the evenly they will brown.
Next, add 2-4 tablespoon water to the browned onion and then sprinkle the cumin seeds and add the ginger & garlic. Stir together for 10-15 seconds.
Add the lamb to the pot. Sprinkle some salt. Stir lamb for 3-4 minutes such that onions stick to it. You dont have to continuously stir it but make sure that the lamb is not sticking to the pot, add a little water(1-2 tablespoons) if needed. Cook until lamb is not pink and the edges are lightly browned. Tip:- Whenever you add meat to browned onions, make sure to add a little water first, this prevents the meat from sticking to the pot. Note:- You can brown the meat a little extra if you wish.
Sprinkle all the powdered spices(except garam masala) next. Stir around so that the spices coat the lamb. By this time you will notice that the lamb would start releasing its juices.
Next, slice the tomato in half or in quarters and add on top of the lamb. Now, cover for 15 minutes. Keep the stove on low-medium. After 10-12 minutes, open the lid and using tongs peel off the skin of the tomatoes. By this time tomatoes will be soft, smush them and mix with lamb. Tip:- Never add the tomatoes (at the beginning of cooking) with the meat, the acid toughens the meat and it takes longer to cook.
Add 1 to 1.5 cup water and cover the pot again for about 1 to 1.25 hours or so and let simmer on low heat. You will need to stir frequently, if at any point you feel that the bottom is dry, add a little splash of water(¼ to ½ cup).
Once the lamb is quite tender(about 95 percent cooked), reduce the stove to low and add the whisked yogurt and garam masala and mix well. After 3-4 minutes you will see that the yogurt will release its water & fat and the curry will look rich.
Adjust water to desired consistency at this point. I like to keep it on thickish side if I am serving with rotis. With rice- a runny sauce is better.
Cover and let cook for another 8-10 minutes more until lamb is fork tender. You will see that color of the curry is red and there is thin fat layer on top.
Finish with ghee and chopped cilantro. Rest the curry for at least 20 minutes before serving .
Using Instant Pot
Set the IP on saute mode. Add the oil. Let warm. Add the whole spices and onions. Let the onions brown. Then add the cumin, ginger garlic paste, powdered spices and chopped tomatoes. Cook this masala sauce for 5-6 minutes until the tomatoes soften a little. Add the lamb next and sprinkle salt. Stir to coat the lamb with masala. Saute for 5-6 minutes until its not pink. Then add 1 to 1.5 cup water making sure that the lamb is covered in liquid. Close the lid and pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Add the whisked yogurt along with garam masala. Mix well and let cook on saute mode for 7 to 8 minutes till the sauce is nice and bubbly. You will notice that the sauce will have a nice color. Finish with ghee & chopped cilantro. Using Stove Pressure Cooker - All the steps noted above remain the same. Pressure cook for 7-8 whistles for about 20-25 minutes.
- Use trimmed lamb meat. You dont want to fatty curry. It is unappetizing and quite heavy.
- If you can find bone in lamb, that is ideal for making curry since the bones boost the flavor the sauce. In fact I suggest, adding 3-4 trimmed lamb chops while making this curry. The chop bones will give a wonderful deep flavor of the sauce.
- Black cardamom - I like using woody black cardamom in meat dishes however you can use green cardamom pods if you have those in the pantry. Both these cardamom have a very different flavor profile and though they aren't exactly a substitute for each other, they do lend a wonderful flavor to lamb curry in their own way.
- You can add curry powder + garam masala instead of different powdered spices.
- Onions - Brown them to a deep shade but dont let them get black else there will be a bitter hint in your sauce. Secondly dont be tempted to add a lot of onions - your sauce will become sweet.
- Tomatoes - Ideally, in indian curries, tomatoes are added to introduce a little acidic tang. Too much tomato overpowers the taste of meat and makes it very tangy.
- Variations - You can add vegetables like potato chunks, cauliflower florets or taro root towards the last 10-15 minutes to make this lamb curry more hearty. You can also add some peas at the very end.
Please make sure to read the FAQs
- If by chance you feel that the sauce is too thin by the time the curry has finished cooking, simply take out the cooked lamb pieces in a plate and reduce the sauce by simmering it. Add back the lamb once the sauce is of desired consistency.
- The sauce got a bit too salty? Just add a few potatoes and let cook. The potatoes will absorb the extra salt.
Calories: 445kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 669mg | Potassium: 499mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 734IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3mg