Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Little Lamb Korma Who Made Thee?...Me

I love lamb. That wasn't always the case. I went from eating lots of lamb as a kid, usually roasted in the Italian style with garlic and rosemary. Also usually roasted in my mothers' style until it was a uniform drab overcooked grey. I won't even go into the vegetables that came along with this dish.
Many years passed where I didn't eat lamb. I was scared of lamb. Lamb was dry, grey and tasted funny. Also, I hated mint jelly. Then I experienced lamb cooked in the Indian fashion, or rather cooked in one of the many ways that it's cooked on the subcontinent. It resembled nothing I'd ever had before, and I was hooked. Since then I've had lamb, hot and spicy, mild and creamy, with saffron and almonds, and chilies and tomatoes,from the north, south, east and west.
A very easy and basic lamb dish that everyone seems to like is Lamb Korma. It's a staple in Indian restaurants and its' mild creamy flavors are a good introduction to people who might be afraid of "the hot it burns!".
We've had a houseguest for the last several days and I cooked an Indian dinner for him the other night the main entree was Lamb Korma.

Since this is a classic Moghul dish the variations on it aren't very many. The recipe that I use is from the Berkeley restaurant Ajanta It's pretty straightforward and goes well with any number of vegetable dishes,rice, chapatti. It's the sort of dish that one can leave to slowly simmer, in fact it's best that way, making the lamb extremely tender by the time you're ready to serve.
Heat up
1.) 4 Tbs of oil in a deep skillet or Karhai
when it's hot toss in .
2.) 2 tsp. of cumin seeds
when they start to sizzle toss in
3.) A 1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
Fry it all up after a few seconds
4.) Toss in 3 or 4 thinly sliced onions stir fry them until they're soft and turning a bit brown.
turn the heat up a bit and add 2 lbs of lamb cut in cubes. I chopped up a butterflied leg of lamb, it worked great.
Brown the lamb,get most of the moisture out . Then..
5.) Add 1 1/2 tsp of turmeric
6.) 2 tsp of salt
7.) 2 tsp. of kashmiri chili (if you don't have it mix 1 tsp of cayenne with 1 tsp of paprika
8.) 1 tsp of ground black pepper
Stir it all up for a but then take it off the heat and mix in
9.) 1 cup of plain yogurt.
The reason for taking it off the heat by the way is to keep the yogurt from curdling in the pan.When it's all mixed in nicely put the pan back on the heat and bring it all to a boil. If you don't have enough moisture feel free to add up to 1/2 cup of water to keep everything from sticking.
Turn the heat down partially cover the pan and simmer it over a low heat. Now here's where things got different.
The recipes say to cook it for about 35 minutes on a low heat until the lamb gets tender, however after 35 minutes it still didn't seem tender enough so I set it onit on a very low heat and simmered and simmered for an additional hour or so, in fact it simmered until dinner a couple of hours later.
10.) Before serving add 2 tsp of *Garam Masala and
11.) 1/2 cup of whipping cream
Mix it through, cover your pan and let it simmer another 5 minutes to warm through.
12.) Sprinkle it with 1/2 cup of slivered almonds and 1/2 cup of finely chopped cilantro.
In the end, all my worries were for nothing, it was tender and succulent and devoured.
The recipe claims that it will serve 6 , however 5 people ate it all up. No left overs.
* A quick recipe for a north Indian style Garam Masala you can grind yourself at home.
1.) 1/4 cup black peppercorns
2.) 3 Tbs of whole cloves
3.) 4 3inch long cinnamon sticks
4.) 1/3 cup green cardamom pods, shell them take the black seeds out, toss pods
5.) 1/2 cup cumin seeds
6.) 2/3 cup coriander seeds
7.)1/2 tsp. ground ginger
8.) @ Tbs of ground nutmeg
9.)2 Bay leaves
10.) 3 Tbs of mace

take the whole spices and place them in a heated skillet pan roast them on low heat until they start to turn brown and fragrant. It should take about 10 to 15 minutes on a very low flame.
Finally place all your spices together in a spice grinder or blender, and grind it away to powder. Place it in a contain and store it in a cool dry place in your spice cabinet. This will make enough Garam Masala for several months worth of use.


  1. wow i love lamb curry this rocks, Rebecca

  2. Do you still use this garam masala recipe? I was wondering how much nutmeg is calls for, since it says @, instead of an amount. Thank you.

    1. Yes, I use 4 , 3inch long cinnamon, looks like use 43!



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