South Indian Lamb Curry

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 4/8


This has become my “default” curry recipe and with good reason. It’s best made with lamb, but also good with chicken (see notes below). It’s essentially a “copy-cat” recipe of Bombay Pantry‘s excellent curry, of which  I’m a big fan. I think it’s pretty close to the original, in both flavour and texture. I call this “South Indian” curry because it includes many ingredients indicative of the region: curry leaves, mustard seeds and coconut.

Incidentally, I recently bought a bag of fresh curry leaves to see if they made a difference to this dish (I normally use the dried variety). I was very pleased with the result. They cost me about a euro in the Asia Market (on Drury Street) for a large bag of leaves. I just rinsed them well, let them dry completely, and froze in a ziplock bag.


  • 1.2kg diced lamb (shoulder or leg is good)
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 10 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 tbsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, black/brown mustard seeds
  • 15 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli flakes, ground coriander, garam masala
  • ½ tbsp each of the following: paprika, turmeric, dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tsp light muscovado sugar
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (chilli flakes, ground coriander, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, fenugreek) and one with the whole spices (cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves). Set aside.
  3. Place a deep cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger and tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Add a little water to loosen if necessary. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced lamb and the ground spice masala. Add the chicken stock, coconut, salt, sugar and tomato pureé, then stir to combine. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. This is good with plain basmati rice or lemon rice.

Serves 6.


  • Lamb curries are best, in my opinion, because the meat gives a deep flavour to the gravy. Chicken gravies can be good too, but need a little extra help. If you want to make this into a chicken curry, make the sauce as normal and cook in a low oven for 1 hour and turn the oven off. Leave the casserole to cool in the oven overnight. This will really develop the flavour of the gravy. When ready to cook, add cubed chicken breast and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is well cooked through.

6 Responses to “South Indian Lamb Curry”

  1. 1 Caroline@Bibliocook August 13, 2010 at 9:12 am

    This sounds really good! I used to be a fan of Bombay Pantry when I lived in Dublin but there’s nothing like that down here in the middle of nowhere, north Cork. Must pick up some fresh curry leaves next time I’m in Dublin and stash them in the freezer like you suggested.

  2. 2 Toasted Special August 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Thanks Caroline. It’s definitely the first recipe I’d try out of the “Big 8”. Do try the fresh curry leaves if you get a chance. They make a huge difference.

  3. 3 Noella November 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    just tried your south indian curry. As a hugh fan of Bombay Pantry i was very excited when i happened upon this recipe. It was so so good. I couldn’t get fresh curry leaves so i used dried but next time i’m in Dubin i will get some. Can’t wait to cook it again.
    Thanks a mil.

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