Mum's Classic Lamb Curry
Updated: May 1
Today mum made lamb curry. This is one of her special dishes she makes when guests come over or when my dad feels like eating lamb. Today was not especially special. We are all inside due to shelter-in-place orders so I suppose every small thing feels special now in a way. To be honest, this reminds me of when we used to prepare for hurricanes back in Fiji except this shelter-in-place has lasted a lot longer. Anyways, my parents had gone grocery shopping and had brought back some lamb meat from the Indian store. The lamb meat they bought was pre-cubed and boneless so my dad did not have prep the meat for my mum. So I guess today was a special boneless lamb curry day.
In terms of the lamb meat, I don’t think we have ever purchased this from a regular grocery store but I do believe that you can substitute lamb chops (lamb lollipops?) or some other form of lamb (from a regular grocery store) in this recipe. Just that the cooking times will differ slightly. We cook our meats well-done. Once you have your lamb pieces, make sure it is thoroughly washed and left to drain in a colander over another bowl or in the sink. Also, wash your hands thoroughly afterwards! In the meantime, you can start your pot. We cooked these dishes in aluminum pots in Fiji but over here, any medium sized non-stick pot will do. As a side note, my sister recently bought my mom a ceramic white pot. My mum loves this pot and cooks everything in this new pot now!
Mum's curry bases are pretty straightforward and generally similar. You will generally always need some kind of vegetable oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves (which are sort of
like bay leaves but not quite), onions, garlic, ginger, chilis, turmeric powder and garam masala. Nowadays, you can find most of these spices in your neighborhood grocery store or your friendly, neighborhood Indian grocery store or ethnic food store and many online vendors carry these ingredients too.
Ok so back to the recipe. Turn on flame to medium heat, add oil and let it heat up. Once oil is hot, add your mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves (if you are using them). At this point, if the oil is hot enough, the seeds will sputter and smoke a bit. This is ok and will create a great smoky flavor in the curry! After a minute or so, add diced onions. Let them cook until they get nice browned edges then add the crushed garlic, crushed ginger and chilis (to taste). We use a wooden mortar and pestle for crushing the garlic and
ginger. You can use a mini food processor to do this as well. Or the fine grate on a box grater would work too. Once the garlic and ginger have cooked for about a minute and have become aromatic, add the turmeric and garam masala. At this point, the mixture will look like a brownish paste. This is ok and normal. Let this cook for a minute.
Then add your lamb pieces. Mix well so lamb is thoroughly coated in the paste. Add salt to taste and mix. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. The lamb will release a lot of juices. The lamb has to be cooked until the juices dry up. You will start seeing a thick gravy at the bottom of the pot. Once you see this, add two cups of water. The lamb pieces have to be submerged but not drowning. At least that is what I am telling myself. Hey, I am still learning after all!
Bring this to boil and let it boil away for another 15 minutes or until lamb meat is tender and cooked thoroughly. By this time, at least a third of the water would have evaporated. At the end of cooking, add chopped cilantro both as a garnish and for freshness and you now have yourself Mum's Lamb Curry! Serve over rice or with a flatbread like roti or naan. See full recipe below complete with measurements!
-2 tbsp vegetable oil (we use olive oil)
-1 tsp mustard seeds
-1 tsp cumin seeds
-handful of curry leaves (can be left out)
-1/4 onion medium dice
-1 tbsp ground garlic
-I tbsp ground ginger
-1 tsp ground chilis (to taste or can be left out)
-3 tsp garam masala
-2 tsp turmeric
-2lbs boneless cubed lamb pieces
-salt to taste
-2 cups water
-handful of chopped cilantro for garnish
Place pot on medium heat. Add oil and let it heat up.
Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. After 1-2 minutes, add diced onions. Once edges are brown, add garlic, ginger and chilis. Let this mixture cook until aromatic.
Add garam masala and turmeric and mix well. Let this cook for 1-2 minutes until aromatic and forms a paste. Do not let this burn.
Add lamb pieces, salt to taste and mix well. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes or until released juices start to dry out.
Once a little bit of thick gravy has formed at the bottom of the pot, add 2 cups of water. Mix well and let this mixture boil for about 15 minutes or until lamb is tender and cooked through. At this point, at least one third of the water should have evaporated.
Add handful of chopped cilantro for garnish and your lamb curry is ready! Serve hot over plain rice or roti or naan!