Lamb Curry

1-PotIndianCurryLamb

Craving lamb curry? Make this recipe on the stovetop, in the slow cooker, or in the pressure cooker. Whatever you choose, slow cooking is the key to tender lamb in this dish. Make a pot of rice and dinner is served.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

This lamb curry is made by slow cooking lamb shanks and chunks of lamb shoulder in a flavorful curry base with chopped apple, potatoes, onions, garlic, lemon, and raisins until it is fall apart tender.

It’s so good! The apples, onions, and raisins give the lamb curry some sweetness, while a couple slices of lemon add some acidity and bitter to balance the flavors of the dish.

I first encountered this lamb curry at my friend Elizabeth Abbott’s parent’s house and begged her mother Maria for the recipe, which, thankfully, she gave me. I’ve played around with it over the years, upped the spices, added raisins, cooked it on the stovetop, cooked it in an Instant Pot. It all works.

The Secret to Great Lamb Curry

The key is slow cooking the tougher cuts of lamb. Both the shanks and the shoulders of a young lamb get plenty of exercise, which makes the meat much more flavorful than, say, a delicate lamb chop. But this activity also makes the meat tough, and so you need to cook it for a longer amount of time to soften the connective tissue and make it tender.

Those 1-hour lamb stews? Chewy. You need at least 2 to 2 1/2 hours to get the meat so tender that it is falling off the bone. Want to speed up the process? You can cut the time in half if you use a pressure cooker.

Lamb Curry in bowl with a bowl of rice on the side

Lamb Curry in the Instant Pot

You can easily make this lamb curry in a stovetop pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Brown the lamb and onions as directed on the stovetop or using the sear function of the Instant Pot. Cook the curry for 50 minutes on high pressure. Then release the pressure, add the potatoes, and cook for another 10 minutes at high pressure.

Lamb Curry in a Slow Cooker

To make in a slow cooker, brown the lamb and onions as directed on the stovetop, then put all of the ingredients into a slow cooker. Slow cook for 6 hours on low, then add the potatoes and cook on high for 45 minutes more before serving.

Bone-in or Boneless Lamb?

I typically use bone-in lamb shanks, shoulder, and stew meat for lamb curry because of the additional flavor and marrow goodness you can get from the bones. By the end of cooking the meat just falls off the bones making it really easy to pick out the bones before serving.

That said, use boneless if that is what you like and you don’t want to deal with bones. Just make sure you are using meat from the more flavorful cuts like a lamb shoulder or shank.

How to Store and Freeze Leftovers

This curry will keep in the fridge for at least five days, and like many stews, the flavors continue to improve with time.

This recipe also freezes quite well, though the potatoes might be a little on the soft side once thawed. Freeze for up to three months, thaw in the fridge overnight, and reheat over low heat on the stovetop to serve.

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Updated April 23, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle with new photos and updates to the headnotes. No changes to the original recipe. Enjoy!

Lamb Curry Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6

Have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker? You can brown the lamb and cook the onions on the sear function. Add the meat and cook at pressure for 50 minutes. Then release the pressure, add the potatoes and cook 10 minutes more.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless (or 3 pounds bone-in), lamb stew meat, lamb shanks, and/or lamb shoulder steaks
  • 2 onions, chopped (about 3 - 4 cups)
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), or 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons curry powder (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 2 slices of lemon, with rind (use 3 slices if using Meyer lemons)
  • 2 peeled and chopped apples, preferably tart green Granny Smith apples (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) of golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) small potatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • Chutney and/or yogurt to serve

Method

1 Brown the lamb pieces on all sides: Heat the ghee or the butter-with-olive-oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot (with cover) or Dutch oven on medium-high.

Working in batches if necessary, brown the meat well on all sides and remove it from pan.

2 Make the curry base: Lower the heat to medium low and add the curry powder to the ghee or oil. Cook gently for a minute or two.

Add onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes.

Return the lamb to the pan, and add the coriander, black pepper, cumin, rosemary, thyme, sliced lemon, apples, raisins, chicken stock, and salt.

6 Cook the curry: Bring to a simmer, lower the heat to low, and cover the pot. (You can also put the pot in a 300°F 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.

7 Add the potatoes and cook for another 45 minutes.

8 Cook the rice: While the curry is cooking, cook the rice. Put 2 cups of basmati rice in a medium thick-bottomed pot. Add 3 cups of water (less or more depending on package instructions), a tablespoon of butter or ghee, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a low simmer, cover the pot and let cook for 15 minutes (again check your package instructions).

Remove from heat, keep covered, and let steam for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

9 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 add cayenne if you want things spicier.

Serve over rice with chutney and/or yogurt for drizzling over top.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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17 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. vivek

    By far the best recipe I’ve come across. I’ve made it several times over the past few years and it’s always a hit. Try smoking the lamb. I use a Big Green Egg. Then prepare as directed. Fantastic. Smoky rich but not over powering.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Stacy R

    Just added the potatoes and the entire house smells amazing. Thanks for posting; I can’t wait to eat!

  3. mo

    this might seem like a stupid question. but how do you eat the yogurt chutney? do you pour it on the rice and then pour the curry on top of that?

    You would serve the curry over rice, with the chutney and the yogurt on the side. ~Elise

  4. Reesha

    I am a South African Indian. Indian cooking does not use lemons/lemon juice/vinegar in a lamb curry recipe. We add the acid to a salad as a side dish. Half a large ripe fresh tomato (or a whole small fresh tomato) is usually added to the curry well after the meat has softened. The addition of tomato results in a beautiful thick gravy. Due to the fact that we eat curries often, we prevent the addition of acid, except tomatoes, as this causes gout and numerous other acid related maladies.

  5. Taya

    This was just beautiful ! I’ve never cooked with curry powder before (always used curry paste) and am now going to try currying all sorts of vegetables and meats. Thanks for a really delightful dish.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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