My Madras Lamb Curry is one of my favourites to cook at home. An impossibly delicious Indian lamb curry with coconut milk, so tender and super fragrant. The aromas permeate every corner of the house when it's on the stove. It's one of the first Indian dishes I memorised (this Madras curry recipe is engrained!) and it's one I return to over and over again.
An authentic Madras recipe
My first taste of Madras Lamb was in a restaurant at the source in Chennai, India. As usual we'd ordered half the menu, so by the time this lamb curry arrived I was SERIOUSLY struggling to push it down. It was one of those food incidents when you know you should stop, but can't and won't. I was prepared to suffer.
I remember the amazing flavour - peppery, slightly sweet and sour and a texture so creamy and glossy. It's difficult to pinpoint an actual flavour here as there are so many spices at play, meaning each small measure of something brings everything to the party. Spice alchemy at its best.
Once in a while a curry comes into your life that is so special, you just have to learn how to cook it yourself. I knew I had to recreate it at home, so the quest was on to find the best Madras recipe on my return! Over the years, my version has been tweaked here and there - this is the final tried and tested version! And it's one of my all time favourites.
Is lamb Madras spicy?
It's really up to you. If you follow the recipe, it's definitely a sauce with a decent spice level. About 6/10. There's not on the same spice hit as my Chicken Pathia or Goan Chicken Vindaloo but it still has a personality! That said, it doesn't suffer in taste if you dial down the heat. Just put less chilli in. Similarly, if you want it hotter - here comes the science... add more chilli!
Time = taste
This Madras curry can seem a bit of a Mahabharata epic, time and ingredients wise, but don't let that deter you:
- it's not really that difficult to put this curry together.
- it's worth the time.
- it's worth the effort.
- See above (to infinity)
That's all I have to say on the Madras Lamb Curry. Complex, delicious, worth the wait. If you're looking for a quicker curry, try my delicious South Indian Salmon Curry or maybe the vibrant Sri Lankan green Masala Shrimp - but if you're up for it - you won't be disappointed in the slightest in this. Go for it.
How to make my Madras Lamb Curry
For the curry powder
- Coat the lamb with salt, turmeric and garam masala and set aside
- Toast the cumin, corriander, chilli peppers together in a small pan until aromatic (1-2 minutes) then blitz together in a spice grinder or pestle & mortar until you have a fine powder.
- Mix this powder with the garlic, ginger and about 1/3 cup water, and set aside.
- Toast the fennel seeds until aromatic and set aside.
- In a large lidded pan fry the onions gently in the ghee until soft and golden brown. Add the curry paste and stir in for 30 seconds. Add the lamb and stir for about 3 minutes. If the lamb sticks turn down the heat.
- Add 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil and cook vigorously for 10 minutes stirring frequently to avoid sticking before adding the remaining coconut milk together with 1 cup of water. Bring back to the boil and add the toasted fennel seeds, the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick.
- Reduce heat and gently simmer with the lid partially on for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the lamb is falling apart. If the sauce looks too thin remove the lid during the last 20 minutes to reduce the sauce. It should be fairly thick and creamy. Before serving, add the tamarind paste and sugar. Adjust salt seasoning and you're finally done!
- The Lamb Madras Curry is a Northern Indian dish, and the sauce thick and creamy so it pairs beautifully with Indian Breads. Mine were served with Fenugreek Chapati - which you should cook once (or more) in your lifetime! Basmati rice is also perfectly suited.
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