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Lamb Korma

Lamb Korma
Simple Lamb Korma with a Naan

(Skip the blurb)

This is just one version of lamb korma. In a Korma, the meat or vegetables are braised in a sealed pot with small amounts of liquid, this could be yoghurt, stock, cream or just plain water. This is what defines a korma (and what the Hindi word means) I doesn't necessarily have anything to do with almonds, cream and all the other stuff that Westernized Indian restaurants would have you believe.

Kormas probably originated in some form in Persia and were brought to India by the Moghul Empire in the 16th century. Chicken and lamb kormas are probably the two most popular - see my chicken korma recipe

An authentic lamb korma can be mild but can also be very hot, it need not necessarily be creamy The liquids I have used in this one are coconut cream and tomatoes so it might almost resemble a takeaway lamb korma. Kormas, and particularly meat kormas, are northern style dishes and so coconut is not too traditional - yoghurt would be more likely - but I wanted to see how this turned out and it was very good so I thought I would use this variant here..

The traditional cooking technique would have involved a pot with a lid over a low fire and probably with coals on the lid to heat the dish from all angles. Today we have pans with tight fitting lids and slow cookers, sealing the pot is essential and would often have been done using dough as a sealing ring.

Basic Ingredients

¾lb (340g) lamb
1 medium onion
2 large cloves garlic
" (1cm) root ginger
red or green chilli
3 large plum tomatoes or 200 grams tinned tomatoes
pint coconut cream
1 teaspoon blanched almonds
About a handful of fresh coriander leaves
Oil for frying

1"(2.5 cm) stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon amchoor
teaspoon salt
teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Seeds from 3 green cardamoms pods
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
8-10 peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon black cumin seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Notes on Ingredients

Lamb Korma
Lamb Korma

Lamb.Lamb steaks are very good and easy to trim and cut up but any lamb that you can dice up is ok. Shoulder is particularly tasty.

Onions, Garlic and Ginger. This is a Muslim version of lamb korma, most Hindus would eat a vegetarian version, Hindu Pandits and Jains would not use onions or garlic. This would be substituted with about ¼ teaspoon of asafetida.

Chilli. This is optional, korma can be a very mild dish as in most Western restaurants, I like it a bit hotter so I use ½ to a whole scotch bonnet in this quantity sometimes less if I'm cooking for wussy guests. It would still be a korma if you used loads of chillis and made it really hot.

Coconut Cream. See notes on coconut cream

Nuts. These are optional or you can use any other kind of nuts you like.

Spices. You can use normal cumin instead of black cumin and you can really experiment with the spices here. I tend to pick things I just fancy at the time. You can marinate in lime or lemon juice instead of amchoor.

Oil. Ghee is best for this dish and peanut oil is also very good, you can use butter, mustard oil or, if you have none of these, then plain vegetable oil is ok.

Basic Method

Heat a dry frying pan and roast the coriander, black cumin, poppy seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek, peppercorns and cinnamon.
Allow to cool and grind these together with the cardamom seeds, to a fine powder
Chop the lamb into 1" (2,5cm) cubes
Sprinkle the lamb with salt and amchoor, mix and leave for a couple of hours (or in the fridge overnight)

Finely chop the onion
Crush and chop the garlic
Finely chop the chilli
Peel and very finely dice the ginger
Peel the tomatoes if using fresh ones or chop up the tinned tomatoes

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Crush or grind the almonds
Put the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger into the pan
After a few seconds, turn down the heat and continue cooking until the onions are nicely softened
Add the spices to the onions and fry for another 5 minutes
Remove from the pan and set aside
If necessary add a little more oil to the pan and bring back to frying temperature.
Put in the marinated lamb and fry until it is sealed and has all turned brown
Mix the onions etc. back in
Add the coconut milk, tomatoes and almonds
When brought back to the boil reduce the heat to low, stir to prevent sticking.
Now cover with a tight fitting lid and slowly cook for at least 45 minutes

Chop the coriander leaves and either garnish or you can stir these into the dish

Notes on Method

A fairly straight forward lamb korma recipe. Be careful with the heat as this dish can stick and burn easily

Once all the ingredients are in and simmering nicely I usually use a slow cooker to slowly cook the dish


This is a lamb korma recipe which I have cooked often (with variations) and is really good. There are hundreds of variations on this and I will do more recipes later.

As I mentioned above, you can use yoghurt instead of (or even as well as) coconut milk the yoghurt to make it even more creamy sometimes I but a couple of spoonfuls in near the end of cooking.

An option I have used is to add ½ teaspoon of garam masala about 15 mins before finishing.

I usually eat this with naan bread rather than rice but both are good. It depends on time and my hunger factor but this is often enough for me. If I'm hungry, any vegetable accompaniment is good, I like Cauliflower Pakora with this or sometimes a lentil dish.

Just with some naan bread this will serve 3-4 as a reasonable meal, with a vegetable dish, it's even more substantial.

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