Lamb Curry

Lamb curry recipe, lamb shanks and shoulders braised in curry sauce with potatoes, apples, raisins, and lemon. Serve with chutney, yogurt, and rice.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

What a blessing it is to have friends, and parents of friends, who cook. I had this dish at my friend Elizabeth Abbott’s parent’s house and begged her mother Maria for the recipe, which, thankfully, she gave me.

I changed it ever so slightly – added some raisins to the mix, and upped the spices. When at their house again recently, I showed Maria her recipe on the site. Delighted yet also surprised, she remarked, “But I don’t use raisins!,” and then added, “but that’s not a bad idea.”

Whew. Saved by the spirit of experimentation. Maria is one of those people who is such a good cook, you are inspired to learn how just by being around her. Thank you Maria!

Lamb Curry Recipe

  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6


  • 2 lamb shanks AND 2 lamb shoulder steaks (yielding about 2 lbs of meat without the bone)
  • 1 large onions, chopped, about 3 1/2 cups
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or 1 Tbsp olive oil with butter
  • 2-3 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1/2 Meyer lemon sliced (with rind)
  • 2 peeled and chopped apples (tart green granny smith if possible), about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup of raisins (my addition to Maria's recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth*
  • 8-12 small potatoes, quartered, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • Chutney, yogurt, rice

*If cooking gluten-free, use homemade chicken stock or gluten-free packaged broth.


1 Brown the lamb shanks on all sides: Preheat oven to 300° F. On stovetop, add the ghee or the butter-and-oil mixture to a large covered pot or Dutch oven and turn the burner to medium-high. Brown the meat well and remove it from pan.

2 Add curry powder: Add curry powder to the ghee or oil, turn the heat down to medium and cook gently for a minute or two.

3 Add onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Return lamb to pan.

4 Add coriander, black pepper, cumin, rosemary, thyme, sliced lemon, apples, raisins, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Cook for 2 hours. Check at 2 hours to see if the meat is falling off the bone. It should be starting to do so.

5 Add the potatoes and cook for another 45 minutes.

6 Serve: To serve, you can pull the meat off the bones or leave it on. Taste for salt and add some more curry powder or cayenne if you want things spicier. Serve over rice with chutney and yogurt.

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Here's Maria with a batch of lamb curry on the stove in her brand-spanking-new kitchen.

Showing 4 of 20 Comments

  • Joyce Aney

    hey, we discovered a great way to always have lamb. last Fall, while driving around the countryside, we saw a farmer’s sign for lamb for sale. Well, I called and sure enough there it was, a half lamb all butchered, cut and wrapped for the deep freeze. It has been wonderful We are down to one package of lamb stew meat and a leg of lamb, which I’m planning for Easter dinner. I was vary pleased with the quality and the cleanliness of the meat. i plan to do the same next Fall, but may buy a whole lamb next time

  • Kirsten

    This looks very much like something we ate with some Indian-descended families in South Africa (minus the apples and raisins). I really liked the food that our families cooked for us (except for the Springbok jerkey, lol). And I loved being served roiboss (or coffee/sweet drinks) whenever we visited people. South Africa has good food and hospitality.

    They also served us something similar to the recipe below, with rice. It has been a recipe that I’ve used for years, so I felt quite at home when they served us something with such a familiar taste! I don’t remember where I got the recipe, but it is filling and good. If you like ethnic cooking (Indian-influenced), curry, plus the filling quality of meat and potatoes, you might like this one. I’ve made it with beef, but the flavors would probably meld very well with lamb. Add extra curry if you like the heat! :-)

    Tanzanian Meat Stew
    1-2 lbs. stew meat (beef, lamb, etc.)
    1/2 cup oil
    1 tbs. salt
    Juice of one lemon
    1 cup water
    1 tsp. curry powder
    1 onion, chopped
    2-3 potatoes, cubed
    2-4 tomotoes, chopped (optional)
    1-2 carrots, chopped (optional)

    In a deep pan, fry the meat in half the oil. Add salt, lemon juice, and water. Reduce heat. Heat the remaining oil in another pan. Add the curry powder while stirring. Add onions and potatoes (and optional vegetables). Stir over medium heat until the onions are clear. Add curry-onion-potato mix to meat. Simmer until meat and potatoes are done. Serve with rice or bread.

  • Sharon

    We loved this recipe. Made it for a bookclub dinner to discuss a book on the Mughal history of Delhi. I did not have time to marinate the meat, so I added the cumin, corinader seeds, thyme and rosemary to the broth. I sliced one whole regular lemon into a doubled recipe, and found the fruit overall delightful, not bitter. We served it with basmati rice, this veggie curry and the regular assorted sides.

  • Cherita

    Hi Elise-I was wondering what kind of curry powder you used? I have found the curry powder that is available in the grocery in the States to lack a lot of flavor. I think it’s mostly tumeric powder. I have started going to a Indian groceries now to get my spices but there are many different kinds of curry powders there (madras is one I can think off the top of my head). Thanks for posting this :)

    Hi Cherita, regular ole turmeric-based curry powder is what we used. But it is worth experimenting with other kinds. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. ~Elise

  • Shannon

    This was my first time cooking Indian food, and I am so excited, because this was awesome, it came out way better than I could have hoped! I did add an extra cup of chicken broth, but that was my only change. I hope to see more recipes and try them out as well. This was excellent.

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