Lamb Curry

bowl of lamb curry over rice

When students ask me to teach them a “basic lamb curry”, I revert to this recipe that I cooked in the restaurant kitchen during my early career. The flavors are typical of versions found in many North Indian restaurants. These flavors seem to dominate the American and European Indian restaurant scene.

Of course, you can decrease the quantity of cayenne if you wish. This curry is typically served with baskets of hot buttered naan and white basmati rice. Indian restaurant goers almost always request slices of raw onion, fresh green chilies, and wedges of lime to go with a bowl.

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Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hour 45 mins
1 1/2

boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed, cut into 1” cubes

2 tbsp.

ground coriander

2 tsp.

ground cumin

1 tsp.

smoked paprika

1 tsp.

kosher salt

1/2 tsp.


1/2 tsp.

ground turmeric

2 tbsp.

fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped


garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp.

canola or vegetable oil


medium red onion, finely chopped

1 c.

canned tomato sauce

1 c.


2 tbsp.

fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped, for garnish

Cooked basmati rice, for serving

Naan, for serving

  1. In a large bowl, coat lamb with coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, cayenne, turmeric, ginger, and garlic. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  2. In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook onion until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add lamb and brown it on all sides, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Stir in tomato sauce and water and scrape the pan to deglaze (loosen) the stuck-on bits. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, until meat is fork-tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Top with cilantro and serve alongside basmati rice and naan if you have it.
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