Archive for June, 2011

Jamie Oliver – Peter’s Lamb Curry

Curry & Rice

I take my hat off to Jamie Oliver. I’ve never tried a recipe of his where I wasn’t pleased with the outcome. His first book, The Naked Chef, has to be one of the most useful cookery books available. It’s worth the price of admission for the bread and pasta recipes alone. The curry recipes in Jamie’s latest books do tend to use ready-made curry pastes for speed and convenience. Nothing wrong with that, of course, I just prefer to make a ruby from scratch.

This recipe is extremely good, worthy of Camelia Panjabi herself. It’s adapted from his second book, “Return of the Naked Chef”. I thought it looked interesting and was tempted enough to try it last weekend. It’s quite similar to the base lamb curry I normally use, so I thought I’d adapt my own recipe to include Jamie’s “fragrant spice mix”. I’ve upped the amount of green cardamom in the recipe, as I love the flavour so much. The whole spices are toasted in a dry frying pan before being finely ground and added to the curry. I also cook the entire dish in the oven rather than cooking the lamb on the hob. It requires less babysitting, as I can just throw the casserole in the oven and forget about it.

Serve with some pilau rice and naan bread. Jamie recommends adding paneer to the curry, a type of Indian cottage cheese. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Jamie Oliver recipe without a final flourish of “fresh ‘erbs”, would it?

Masala Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 clove
  • small piece of cinnamon stick
  • 10 green cardamoms

Curry Paste Ingredients

  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 large red onions, peeled
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 red chillies

The Other Ingredients

  • fresh coriander & fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons butter/oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml stock
  • 1.5kg lamb, diced
  • fresh mint, handful
  • fresh coriander, handful
  • 300ml natural yoghurt
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lime juice
  • salt and black pepper


  1. Toast the whole spices for a minute or two in a dry frying pan until they release their aroma. Transfer to a spice grinder (or mortar) and leave to cool. Grind to a fine powder and set aside.
  2. Put the curry paste ingredients in a blender and process until you get a smooth paste. Add a little water if you wish.
  3. Heat a large casserole and add the oil/butter. Gently fry the curry paste and ground spices, stirring regularly.  Add the tomatoes and the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the casserole with a lid and place in the oven for one and a half hours to intensify the flavour.
  4. Fry the lamb pieces in the oil until coloured before adding to the curry sauce. Return the casserole to the oven and cook for around 2 hours or until the lamb is tender.
  5. Stir in the chopped fresh coriander and mint, then stir in the yoghurt.  Season to taste with some freshly ground black pepper and some lime juice.

Serves 6.


  • If you’d like take try some different curry recipes, I’d recommend my South Indian Lamb Curry as a good starting point. After that, try your hand at these! 🙂

Lamb Shank Rogan Josh


This is a really special recipe, for those who like putting a bit of love (and time) into their curry-making. The spicing is different to my standard Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh recipe because it doesn’t use any shortcuts. I don’t use a lot of pre-ground spice here – I toast the cumin, coriander, fennel, peppercorns and cloves before grinding and adding to the gravy. I use authentic Kashmiri chillies for both their flavour and deep red colour. I use shanks of lamb because traditional Rogan Josh is slow-cooked with the meat bones, giving a very deep flavour and rich consistency. It would make a fantastic dinner party dish.

I also use a whopping 25 green cardamoms in this recipe – no, it’s not a mistake! I love the flavour of cardamom and it’s certainly pushed centre-stage in this recipe. Removing the seeds from the green husk is a bit of “pullaver”, but it’s worth the effort. You could add a little saffron, as it’s very traditional in Rogan Josh, but I find the flavour tends to dominate and I don’t want anything to interfere the other spices. A traditional Rogan Josh will also normally include some yoghurt but I prefer it without as I don’t want a creamy consistency in my RJ. Give it a try, it’s the best curry you’ll ever taste.


  • 4-6 lamb shanks
  • 2 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • knob of butter
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 8 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 25 green cardamoms
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2-inch piece of cinnamon (broken into small shards)
  • 5 cloves
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 500ml water
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chili powder (if you can’t find this, replace with 1½ tsp regular chili powder and 2 tsp sweet paprika)
  • 3 whole dried Kashmiri chilies
  • 2 large black cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala (optional, but make sure it’s homemade!)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Crush the green cardamoms using a mortar and pestle. Separate the black seeds from the green husk and discard the husk.
  3. Using a dry frying-pan, carefully toast the cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon shards. Keep the seeds moving in the pan, taking care not to burn them. You’ll know they’re done when they start to release a heady aroma. Transfer to a spice/coffee grinder (or a mortar and pestle) and allow to cool.
  4. Grind the toasted spices to a fine powder.
  5. Place a cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil and butter. Add the lamb shanks and turn until golden on all sides. Remove the shanks using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  6. Add the onions to the residual oil in the casserole and cook gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour. Add the garlic and ginger and for another two minutes.
  7. Remove the browned onion mixture from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to a blender. Add a little water and blend until very smooth.
  8. Put the casserole back on the heat. Add the onion/garlic mixture to the casserole, then add the ground spices, chilli powder, whole dried chillies, black cardamom pods, bay leaves. Fry for a minute before adding the tomato passata and the water. Stir well to combine before returning the lamb shanks to the gravy, along with any juices that have collected. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 3 hours until the meat is very tender, almost falling off the bone.
  9. Before serving, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. You can add a little garam masala to taste also. Best served with plain basmati rice or a Kashmiri pilaff.

Serves 4-6.


  • Of course, you could use good quality stewing lamb in place of the lamb shanks. Use 1.2kg of leg/shoulder and follow the instructions in the Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh recipe.
  • This recipe requires a very smooth gravy. For this reason, I’d recommend investing in an electric spice (coffee) grinder. But a mortar and pestle will work well too – it just requires more effort to get a finer textured masala.

Roasted Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Garam Masala is literally translated as “hot spice mix”, but the “hot” refers to the intensity of the spices and the heat they generate in the body – not the pungency we associate with chillis. The spice mix can be bought pre-prepared and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, but you should prepare your own if you’re doing a special dish. I’ve only recently started grinding my own garam masala and I’ve found that the difference in flavour is staggering. It is said that commercial garam masala preparations are bulked up with the cheaper and milder spices such as cumin or coriander. The homemade version will be much more intense and fragrant.

You don’t have to toast your spices first but I find it gives a nice roasty flavour and a deeper colour which goes particularly well with lamb curries. I wouldn’t consider making a rogan josh without this. I’ve experimented with various combinations of spices and this is the one I like best. Mamta Gupta of the fantastic Mamta’s Kitchen advises adding black cumin and fennel seeds for a Kashmiri-style garam masala.


  • 5 green cardamoms
  • 3 brown cardamoms
  • 3 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 dry bay leaves
  • 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick


Heat a heavy frying pan and gently toast the spices for a minute or two until they start to smell really fragrant. Transfer the toasted spices to a coffe/spice grinder and allow to cool. Grind to a fine powder and store in an airtight jar.