Forget Korma, Jalfrezi, Madras. Try this easy lamb curry recipe for the tastiest lamb curry ever. It's packed with spices for great flavour and enough chilli to give it heat without too much of a bite. It's also loaded with veggies, which makes it an ideal one-pan meal.
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Easy Lamb Curry
We love a good lamb curry. Left to himself, Graham would eat it every night of the week. In fact, the very first dish he ever cooked for me was a lamb curry. (Did I mention that lamb is his favourite meat? He loves my lamb curry in pita and South African bunny chow)
To be honest it didn't taste too bad. What I liked about it was that he'd included potatoes and carrots in the same pan, which went really well with the flavour of the curry. The only drawback was that he'd used a jar of instant sauce.
Made from scratch
We've come a long way since those days. I've introduced him to the art of making a curry from scratch, and I think between us, we've come up with a pretty good-tasting lamb curry.
What I like about this lamb curry is that it's not too hot. There is a lot of flavour from the combination of spices with just the right amount of heat (for my taste). If you prefer a spicier curry, it is easy to adjust the heat - just adjust the amount of chilli flakes that you add.
There are quite a few spices in this lamb curry recipe (8 in all), but they are all readily available in the supermarket for under £1 each. And a little goes a long way. You will get at least 8 to 10 curry meals from the spices, so when you offset the upfront cost of buying the spices, against buying a jar of ready-made curry sauce, this works out to be very economical. There is also no comparison when it comes to flavour. Homemade is always better, and this dish wins hands down.
The lamb curry virtually cooks itself. I'm all for making things easy in the kitchen. Once you've prepared the vegetables, all you have to do is fry the onions with the spices, brown the meat, add the tomatoes and veggies and leave it to simmer on the stove for 40 minutes while you get on with more important things (like relaxing with a glass of wine maybe?).
You don't have to worry about over-cooking either. A little extra cooking time won't hurt. The worst that can happen is that the potatoes might be a little bit soft. Also, the flavours improve on standing so you can also prepare it in advance and warm it up when you are ready to eat it. It freezes like a dream, so why not make a double quantity and freeze half for another meal?
Ingredients for easy lamb curry
You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this easy lamb curry on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
It takes about an hour and a half in total to prepare and cook this homemade lamb curry, but the prep time is less than half an hour. The rest of the time the curry just simmers away by itself.
- Ground Cumin
- Dried Chilli Flakes
- Fennel Seeds
- Garam Masala
- Ground Coriander
- Mustard Seeds
- Hot curry powder - optional
All the rest
- 500g Lamb leg (cubed)
- Tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Sugar (1 teaspoon - optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sunflower oil for frying
How to make Lamb Curry
Prepare the lamb
Start by cutting up your lamb into 2 cm (1-inch) chunks.
You can buy your lamb ready cut up at the supermarket, but I like to buy a whole piece of lamb leg and cube it myself. That way, I'm sure that all the pieces are evenly sized, and I can cut away any bits of sinew or excess fat.
Peel and chop the vegetables
The onions, carrots and tomatoes should be approximately 1 cm (half inch) cubes and the potatoes a little larger. I find that carrots take a bit longer to cook than potatoes, so keeping the carrots smaller ensures that everything ends up being cooked at the same time.
Gather all the spices
Fry the onions and spices
- Pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large frying pan (use one that has a lid) and saute the onion gently until translucent. Do not allow them to brown. I find that if I keep them on a low heat, and cover them with a lid (and give an occasional stir), this takes about 5 minutes.
- I have included hot curry powder as an ingredient, but this is not strictly necessary. The combination of the rest of the spices and the chilli should provide sufficient heat and flavour. If you like a really spicy curry you can add the curry powder, otherwise, just leave it out.
- Add all the spices to the onions and continue cooking, stirring continuously, until the onion is well-coated and the spices start to release their aroma.
- Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.
Brown the lamb
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the same frying pan, and fry the lamb cubes over medium heat, to brown and seal.
- Don't overload the pan. Just brown a few pieces at a time, so that the pan keeps its heat and doesn't draw moisture. You want a nice brown coating on the lamb. You don't want it to boil in its own juices.
Return the onions to the pan and add the tomatoes
- Once the meat is all browned, tip it all back into the pan.
- Add the onions to the meat along with the chopped fresh tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- You can omit the sugar if you prefer. I always add a teaspoon of sugar to cooked tomatoes as it brings out the tomato flavour and reduces the tartness.
- Let this simmer until the tomatoes start to soften and release their moisture.
- Now pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil
Add the root vegetables and season
- Add the potatoes and carrots.
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- The mixture will be quite thick at this stage, and it may look as though it needs extra liquid. Don't worry - as the tomatoes and other vegetables soften there will be plenty of liquid in the pan.
- Put the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.
- Check occasionally and top up with stock if necessary.
- Halfway through the cooking time, check the flavour and seasoning. As with any recipe, you should check the taste as you go.
- For extra heat add a touch more chilli, and if you think it needs more salt you can add it now.
- If there is too much liquid in the dish, remove the lid or the final 10 minutes of simmering to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
Serve and enjoy
- I like to serve lamb curry with a bowl of white rice and a side helping of peas.
- If you would prefer not to serve with rice, this lamb curry is delicious piled on top of a warmed, split pita bread. To warm pita bread just place it in a dry frying pan over a low heat for about one minute on each side.
- South Africans like to serve their curries with a sprinkling of coconut, a few slices of fresh banana, and dollop of chutney on top.
Your questions answered
Yes - this lamb curry freezes very well.
Once cooked, let it cool and then spoon into a suitable freezer container and freeze for up to 4 months.
To reheat just let it defrost in the fridge and then reheat gently in a saucepan.
I always make a bigger batch than I need and freeze half for another meal.
You could turn leftovers into curried dough balls. Just chop up the lamb chunks into smaller pieces and use the leftover curry as a filling in the dough balls. Delicious!!!
Yes, any firm vegetable can be used.
Why not try it swapping out the potatoes for sweet potato, or swap the carrots with parsnips?
You can also add a handful of chopped bell peppers to this dish.
I wouldn't use a soft vegetable like a zucchini because that would become mushy.
Just adjust the amount of chilli flakes you are adding.
Yes, lots, why not try one of these next time the curry-craving hits?
- Chicken Bhuna with Bombay Potatoes
- Vetkoek and curried mince
- Bunny Chow - traditional South African street food
- Curried dough balls
- Samosas with cheese and sweetcorn
- Lamb curry in pita
- Bobotjie - a South African mince curry bake
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Easy Lamb Curry
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 500 g Lamb leg (cubed)
- 2 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Dried Chilli Flakes
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- 2 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Hot Curry Powder optional
All the Rest
- 1 400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 2 medium Fresh Tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 medium Carrots (diced)
- 2 medium Onions (chopped)
- 2 medium Potatoes (cubed)
- 1 teaspoon Sugar (optional)
- 1 cup beef or vegetable stock made with a stock cube
- Sunflower Oil (for frying) or use olive oil
- Salt and pepper (to your own taste)
- Peel the onions and chop into 1cm pieces.
- Peel the carrots and potatoes. Cut the carrots into 2cm pieces and the potato into 2cm pieces.
- Chop the tomatoes into 1cm pieces.
- Cut the meat into 2cm pieces (or bite-sized chunks).
- Measure all the spices into a bowl.
- Dissolve the stock cube in a cup of boiling water
- Fry the chopped onions in a little sunflower or olive oil, over a gentle heat until translucent. Stir occasionally. This should take about 5 minutes. Do not allow to brown - if the onions start to brown, turn down the heat.
- Add all the spices and stir well. Continue to fry gently over a low heat for 1 minute to allow the flavours to combine.
- Remove the onions and spices from the pan and set aside while you brown the meat.
- Add a little more oil to the pan and increase the heat slightly.
- Add the meat and stir it around in the pan until it is nicely browned. Do not overload the pan. You may need to fry the meat in batches so that it browns nicely.
- Once the meat is browned, add it all back to the pan, then add the fried onions and spices.
- Stir in the chopped fresh tomatoes and sugar. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Fry gently, stirring all the while, until the tomatoes start to break down.
- Add the potatoes and carrots, and the tin of chopped tomatoes. Stir well.
- Add ¾ of the stock. You may not need the entire cup.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer with the lid on the pan for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the meat is tender. Top up with the remaining stock if necessary.
- Serve on a bed of rice with a side of naan bread for mopping up the juices.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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