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Kerala Lamb Curry

Kerala Lamb Curry

This one is for lovers of curry, more specifically, those who crave south Indian cuisine. I ate this recently in India and thought I was in heaven. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. It is really very easy. However, please do not make substitutions if at all possible, as the taste just won’t be the same. It is important to use fresh curry leaves, as in the dried form they are quite tasteless (I buy them fresh, then store them in the freezer). The coconut is optional, but I cannot imagine this dish without it, and unfortunately, dried coconut just won’t do. Sometimes I buy frozen freshly grated coconut and store it in the freezer, otherwise you can buy a fresh coconut. You will notice ingredients for ‘tempering’. Tempering is the final seasoning of your masterpiece. It involves heating a little oil to which a selection of small amounts of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black gram dhal, curry leaves, asafetida or other spices, are added. The result is an undeniably Indian flavor and aroma. I like to use coconut oil when cooking south Indian cuisine, but any vegetable oil will suffice. Add less chili if you prefer your food not too hot! Adapted from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey.


  • 3

    tablespoons coriander seeds

  • 4 -6

    dried hot red chili peppers, to taste


  • 3 -4

    tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1

    teaspoon salt, to taste

  • 3

    ounces shallots or 3 ounces white onions

  • 3

    cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped


  • 1

    teaspoon split Urad Dal, with or without skin (optional)

  • 2

    ounces shallots or 2 ounces white onions


  • To make the spice powder, dry roast the spices in a medium-sized skillet, over medium heat, and stir and toss them around for 1-2 minutes, or until they begin to look toasted and release their aromas.
  • Immediately remove from heat and place the spices in a clean coffee grinder, and when cooled slightly, grind to a fine powder, then set aside.
  • If you choose not to grate the coconut, cut the thinly sliced coconut flesh into ¼-½ inch dice.
  • Next, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, return to medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  • When hot, add the diced coconut, the turmeric and ½ teaspoon of salt, stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, or until the coconut is toasted, then set aside.
  • Heat 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large pan, preferably non-stick, over medium to high heat.
  • Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, and stir a few seconds until they pop.
  • Add 20 fresh curry leaves, 3 oz shallots, and all the ginger and garlic, and saute, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until the shallots are lightly browned.
  • Now add the meat and the roasted ground spice mixture, and stir well to coat the meat with the spices.
  • Toss in the toasted coconut dice and ½ teaspoon of salt, and then add the vinegar and 2½-3 cups water.
  • Bring to the boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for 50 minutes to an hour until the meat is almost tender.
  • Remove the lid and, increasing the heat if necessary, continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is thick and clings to the meat.
  • Finally, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and when hot, add the urad dhal (optional) and the mustard seeds.
  • Stir until the mustard seeds pop, and then add 2 oz shallots and 20 curry leaves, and stir-fry until the shallots are golden brown.
  • Add this shallot mixture to the meat, stir well, remove from heat and serve with rice.

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