If you've got any leftover lamb, why not turn it into a delicious leftover lamb curry, with lots of vegetables and gravy? This is a quick and easy meal that you can have on the table in less than half an hour, but it will taste as though you've been slaving over a stove all day!
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This leftover lamb curry recipe is based on my easy lamb curry recipe which is made with fresh lamb. I've carried the same flavours through into this leftover lamb recipe so you can have a delicious lamb curry in almost no time at all.
This recipe is the perfect way to use up leftover lamb so that nothing goes to waste. I've used fresh vegetables in this recipe, but there's absolutely nothing stopping you from chopping up any leftover vegetables you have and adding those instead.
Whenever I have leftover lamb from a roast, I chop it into small pieces, and then pack it into a Ziploc bag and freeze it for when I want to make this recipe. Leftover lamb stored in this way will keep for up to 3 months. To use it, I just take it from the freezer and defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. Or if I'm in a hurry I defrost it in the microwave for a few minutes while I prepare the vegetables.
Because the lamb is already cooked, this meal is ready in the time it takes the vegetables to cook.
My favourite way of serving this leftover lamb curry is either in pita bread or with a crusty bread roll to mop up the delicious gravy. However, if you are looking for a more substantial meal, it is equally good served over a helping of fluffy white rice.
This recipe originated years ago when I lived in South Africa. You will find that most South African curry recipes tend to call for one or two tablespoons of fruity chutney. The sweetness of the chutney really brings out the flavour of the spices, and I've included a small amount of chutney in this recipe too.
I'm a bit of a wimp where chilli is concerned, so I tone down the amount of chilli I add. If you prefer a bit more heat you can simply up the chilli flakes to your own taste. Either way, there is a ton of flavour in this curry. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Is this lamb curry very spicy?
You can make this leftover lamb curry as mild or as spicy as you like.
As with all curries, the flavour comes from the mix of spices, but the heat is governed by the amount of chilli that you add.
If you want a mild curry then adjust the amount of chilli or leave it out altogether.
If you prefer a hotter curry then just add more chilli.
What you will need
As far as equipment is concerned, you will need a large pan with a lid. I like to use a saute pan, but you could get away with a large saucepan instead. You will also need a sharp knife and a chopping board for cutting up the vegetables.
The actual quantities of ingredients will depend on how much lamb you have left over, and I've estimated the approximate amount of meat and vegetables that you will need per person. The recipe card at the bottom of the post provides quantities for enough leftover lamb curry to feed between 4 to 6 people.
- Leftover roast lamb - this should be cut into bite-sized pieces. You should aim to have about one cup of diced lamb per person - or even less for smaller appetites.
- Vegetables - I used diced celery, onions and carrots. If you have vegetables left over from your roast you could use those instead, however, I would recommend that you use freshly chopped onions as these will be fried with the spices. Once again you will need about one cup of vegetables per person.
- Frozen peas - I know that these are vegetables 🙂 but I'm including them separately because I think the curry really benefits from the sweetness that the peas add.
- Potatoes - this is one medium potato per person and should be cut into quarters.
- Tinned tomatoes - I used an entire tin. If you are making a smaller portion you could use half a tin and freeze the remainder for a later meal.
- Stock - this is simply a chicken or vegetable stock cube dissolved in one cup of water.
- Fruit chutney - if you don't like sweetness in your curry you can leave it out, but if you do, I would recommend adding a scant teaspoon of sugar to counteract the tartness of the tomatoes.
- In addition, you will need a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil for frying the spices and the vegetables, and also salt and pepper for seasoning if needed.
- You may also like to add one or two crushed garlic cloves along with the onions.
These are the spices I used. If you don't have all these spices you can use your favourite brand of curry powder from the supermarket. When I lived in South Africa I used a brand called Rajah, which had a lovely blend of flavours. Since coming to the UK I haven't been able to find a brand that I like, so I tend to mix my own spices.
- garam masala
- dried chilli flakes (adjust according to your own taste)
- mustard seeds
- ground coriander
- ground cumin
- ground cinnamon
- ground cardamom
- bay leaves (optional)
What to do
- Cut the leftover lamb into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Peel and chop the potatoes, carrots, celery and onions and set aside. Make the pieces quite small (about half an inch or 1cm in size).
- If you don't have stock, make your own by dissolving a chicken or vegetable stock cube in one cup of boiling water.
- Measure all the spices out into a small bowl - this way you won't forget anything!
Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large pan and tip in all the spices (except the bay leaves). Stir them over moderate heat for a minute or two until they release their aromas.
Add the cubed lamb and stir well to coat the lamb with the spices. Remove the lamb to a plate and set aside while you fry the vegetables.
Add another splash of oil to the same pan and then fry the onions, celery and carrots (still on moderate heat) until the onions start to turn translucent.
Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, chutney, bay leaves (if using) and potatoes. Half-fill the tomato can with water and add that too.
Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are almost cooked. I like to taste at this point so that I can add extra chilli if necessary.
Stir in the lamb and continue to simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes until well heated through.
Stir in the peas then taste for seasoning and add salt and ground black pepper to your own taste.
You should find that the sauce has thickened sufficiently. If you feel it needs thickening, make a slurry with a tablespoon of cornflour mixed with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and stir that slowly into the curry until it has thickened to your liking. You may not need all the cornflour mixture.
There are several ways that you can serve this lamb curry:
- Warm pita bread in the oven or microwave, or heat gently in a dry frying pan on the stove. Fill the warmed pita bread with the lamb curry mixture.
- If you don't want to use pita bread, you could serve this leftover lamb curry over a bowl of white rice.
- My favourite way of serving this lamb curry is to serve it as you would a stew, in a bowl with lots of crusty bread for mopping up the juices.
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Absolutely - this curry freezes beautifully. Just allow it to cool and transfer it to suitable freezer containers in meal-sized portions. You can freeze it for up to 3 months.
To use, allow it to defrost in the refrigerator (or use the microwave) and reheat it in a saucepan on the stove until piping hot.
You can store this lamb curry in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The flavour actually gets even better on standing!
This is a tradition that has been picked up from the Cape Malay community who were originally brought from Indonesia and parts of Africa as slaves in the early 17th century. Their cuisine is based on their love of combining fruit such as apricots with exotic spices. Even though they do add chilli to their curries it is only in small amounts, to enhance rather than overpower the other flavours.
The other popular South African curry is known as Durban curry, and is probably the only curry in the world to be named after a city! This is a reddish-coloured, slightly oily extremely hot and spicy curry, its origins going back to 1860 when the first Indian labourers arrived to work on the sugar plantations.
Legend has it that when the labourers went to work they took left-over curry from the previous nights' supper for their lunch. Instead of a container, they carried their curry in a hollowed-out loaf of bread, and so the famous South African bunny chow was born.
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Other curry recipes
You may also enjoy these other curry recipes:
And of course, no curry is complete without an accompanying dish of fluffy rice
Leftover lamb curry
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- 3 to 4 cups leftover roast lamb cubed
- 4 medium Potatoes quartered
- 1 large carrot cut into 1 cm dice
- 1 stalk celery cut into 1 cm slices
- 2 medium onions cut into 1 cm dice
- 2 cloves garlic (optional) minced
- 14 ounces / 400 gram tin chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup frozen petit pois or garden peas
- 2 tablespoons fruit chutney
- 1 teaspoon sugar optional
- 2 - 3 tablespoons sunflower oil for frying spices and onion
- 1 cup chicken stock You can substitute chicken stock with 1 stock cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed to a thin paste with a little water for thickening if necessary
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes adjust according to your own taste
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 Bay Leaves optional - remove before serving
- Peel and chop the vegetables set aside.4 medium Potatoes, 1 large carrot, 1 stalk celery, 2 medium onions
- Chop the meat into cubes and set aside.3 to 4 cups leftover roast lamb
- Measure the spices (except the bay leaves) into a small bowl2 teaspoons garam masala, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large pan and tip in all the spices (except the bay leaves). Stir them over moderate heat for a minute or two until they release their aromas.
- Add the cubed lamb and stir well to coat the lamb with the spices. Remove the lamb to a plate and set aside while you fry the vegetables
- Add another splash of oil to the same pan and then fry the onions, celery and carrots (still on moderate heat) until the onions start to turn translucent.2 - 3 tablespoons sunflower oil, 2 cloves garlic (optional)
- Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, chutney, bay leaves (if using) and potatoes. Half-fill the tomato can with water and add that too.14 ounces / 400 gram tin chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons fruit chutney, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 Bay Leaves
- Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are almost cooked. I like to taste at this point so that I can add extra chilli if necessary.
- Stir in the lamb and continue to simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes until well heated through.
- Stir in the peas then taste for seasoning and add salt and ground black pepper to your own taste.½ cup frozen petit pois or garden peas, Salt and pepper
- You should find that the sauce has thickened sufficiently. If you feel it needs thickening, make a slurry with a tablespoon of cornflour mixed with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and stir that slowly into the curry until it has thickened to your liking. You may not need all the cornflour mixture.1 tablespoon cornflour mixed to a thin paste with a little water
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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What do you make with leftover lamb? Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.