Lamb Madras Curry

I love cooking with lamb. I know I'm not in the majority here. Lamb can be fatty and many people just seem to shy away from it.

I promise you'll change your mind after trying this recipe for Lamb Madras Curry!

This was one of the recipes I learned to make in my cooking class a few weeks ago. I wanted to make sure I made it myself at home within enough time that I could remember the steps we went through that aren't necessarily listed in the recipe.

The full recipe is posted online HERE (along with some other great ones!), but it doesn't have all the tips and tricks I learned in my  Arvinda's Curries Class.

Below is how I prepared the meal for the first time at home (with the ingredients I had, and the lessons I learned)

A few things to remember before you get started at home:
  1. Caramelizing onions right is SO important.
  2. Every time you add a new ingredient, let the ingredients reheat to the desired temperature. Don't just throw in ingredient after ingredient; you need to let them simmer so the flavours meld
  3. When you add your spices, sprinkle them around, don't drop them in one place.
  4. Try not to burn your onions, spices, or other ingredients. It will make your curry bitter.

with that in mind, let's get started!

Lamb Madras Curry (serves 4) 

  • 1 lb lamb, cubed 
  • 1 extra-large onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 tbsp oil 
  • ½ tsp Garam Masala (use cinnamon bark if you have it)
  • 1-2 star anise
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tbsp curry powder 
  • 3 tbsp Madras Masala (If you don't have Madras Masala, use the indented ingredients, but ignore them if you have a mix) - reduce by half if you prefer a mild curry.
    • 1 tbsp cumin powder
    • 1 tbsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp garlic paste
    • 1 tsp ginger paste
    • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, finely crushed
    • 1/2 tsp peppercorns, crushed
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 cup tomato sauce 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cup water 
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)  


1) Caramelize your onions in advance. To do this you'll need your onions chopped INCREDIBLY finely. they'll almost resemble a coleslaw, rather than chopped onions. Over medium heat in a good quality frying pan, pour 1 tbsp of olive oil and heat up, then add your onions.

Stir consistently until they brown (it will take about 15-20 minutes) adjusting the heat up and down as necessary. Try to keep the edges of your onions from burning. The onions will reduce in size to about 1/3 their original volume (or more!). This step is tedious but really important, so hang in there and keep stirring! Here's a little before and after:

2) In large pot over medium-low heat, pour in your olive oil and your aromatic spices: cardamom, star anise and cinnamon bark  (If you don't have cinnamon bark, hold off on the garam masala substitute). Cook in the oil until the flavours release. You'll know when you're ready to move on as the cardamom pods will actually puff up.

At this point, if you're using garam masala, sprinkle evenly into the oil. Heat for another minute stirring so it wont burn.

Now, sprinkle your curry powder evenly into the oil, again heating and stirring so it wont burn. Cook until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes)

3) Add your pre caramelized onions. mix in and reheat, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Reduce temperature to medium-low. 

Add Arvinda’s Madras Masala and salt. Mix well and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Pour in your vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes.

4) Add cubed lamb, stirring until meat is well coated and seared closed. Add sugar and mix well. 

Add water, cover and simmer on low heat until meat is tender and cooked, approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mine had a pretty consistent bubbling going.

When ready, serve with fresh Basmati rice and Naan. I'd also recommend a delicious Kingfisher beer!