Lamb Curry with Tomato

Two weeks ago I posted the recipe for the first of two lamb curries made at the same time with 4 lbs of lamb shanks. That first one used tamarind as the souring agent; this one uses tomatoes. Those are not the only differences, of course. The blend of spices is different and, on the whole, while the first is in a generic “South Indian” style this one is in a more North Indian style. These are, of course, generalities but the truth is neither is from a specific South Indian or North Indian regional tradition. Rather, the first is made using ingredients/flavours more common in various South Indian preps and the second using ingredients/flavours more common in various North Indian preps—both broadly speaking. Like a good Bengali I add potatoes to this one and I have to say that if you have good potatoes and time their cooking just right, they will be the star of the dish every time.


  • 2 lbs lamb on the bone, preferably with some shanks in there too
  • The following whole spices: 2 tez patta or dried bay/cassia leaves, 5-6 pods green cardamom, 5-6 cloves, 2 2″ pieces of cinnamon/cassia bark
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • Roughly 1 tspn each freshly pounded ginger and garlic
  • The following lightly toasted, cooled and ground to a coarse powder: 2 tspns cumin seeds, 2 tspns coriander seeds, 1 tspn black peppercorn, 1/2 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 2-4 dried red chillies
  • 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 3 medium potatoes (not a starch kind), cut in half
  • 2-3 Thai chillies, slit lengthwise
  • Salt
  • Water, off the boil from a kettle
  • 2-3 tblspns of neutral oil, such as grapeseed or avocado


  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and when it shimmers add the whole spices.
  2. As soon as they become fragrant (30 seconds or so) add the onions and saute, stirring frequently, till beginning to nicely brown (5-7 minutes).
  3. Add the ginger and garlic, mix and saute for another minute or so or till their raw smell disappears.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the ground spices and haldi, mix in and saute for another minute or so.
  5. Add the cut-up lamb, mix thoroughly, raise the heat back to medium and saute, stirring often, till you see oil separating.
  6. Add the diced tomato and salt, mix in and saute, stirring often, till the tomato has completely broken down and the oil separates again.
  7. Add enough water to cover the meat by an inch or two, bring to a high simmer, cover and cook till the meat is almost done (i.e cooked but not falling off the bone). Uncover, check and add more water as necessary till this point is reached.
  8. Add the potatoes and the slit green chillies, mix in gently, bring back to a high simmer, cover and cook till the potatoes are just done.
  9. Serve with steamed rice or chapatis/parathas


  1. This will, of course, work just as well with goat and also with beef (though try to get some bones in there for better flavour).
  2. I wish I could tell you exactly how long the meat will take to cook but it will depend on the type of meat you use, the cut etc.
  3. Timing the potato is a matter of practice. You want it to be just cooked through but still firm. Don’t use russet or other starch potatoes which are likelier to soften and fall apart. I use the Yukon Gold type and typically it takes about 20 minutes to get to the optimal state. Your times will likely vary.
  4. I use mostly byadgi chillies for the dried chilli component. The peppercorn and slit Thai chillies bring a fair bit of heat and so if you use 4 hot dried chillies in the spice mix this might become a bit out of balance on the heat front.
  5. You could up the tomatoes to 2 cups if you like but if you do that, add a tspn of sugar as well.
  6. I don’t usually peel potatoes for these kinds of dishes but the kids were going to be eating this too and I did not want to deal with their microsurgery to get the peels off.
  7. You could if you like garnish this with some freshly chopped dhania/cilantro (I just unaccountably did not have any).


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