This Indian restaurant lamb curry is nameless. There’s no long standing traditional dish behind it. It’s a bit of an accident really but a really tasty one. I set out to make a particular curry one night. Didn’t have the ingredients I thought I had so I had to improvise. Since then it’s become one of my house curries. I guess it has a name. It’s the glebe kitchen house curry.
I used lamb here but it works really well with chicken. In fact, depending on your mood, chicken might even be better. Beef works too. And for vegan options fried eggplant, mixed vegetables, potatoes or paneer would work nicely. Most Indian restaurant curries are like that. Well, except chicken tikka masala I guess…
This is my house Indian restaurant lamb curry. It’s a good starting point to make your own house curry. Something you don’t like? Leave it out. Want it a bit zingy? Add some lemon or tamarind. Like it sweet? Add some extra sugar. Hotter? Bring it on. Have fun cooking. That’s the important thing.
Do your prep before you get started. Make your curry base and have some heated and ready to go. Pre-cook your meat. Measure out your ingredients. Have everything ready. Put on some old clothes – a bit of splatter is part of the fun.
If you have not yet read the guide to Indian restaurant technique yet, do it now. It has pictures to help you understand the recipe. There’s also a guide to Indian ingredients in that post.
- 2 tsp indian restaurant spice mix or curry powder
- 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder or ¼ tsp cayenne mixed with ¾ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp kasoor methi
- ½ tsp tandoori masala
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp butcher grind (coarse) black pepper
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 2 inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
- 1 black cardamom or 2-3 green cardamom pods
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tbsp onions or shallots minced
- 1 Tbsp garlic ginger paste
- 1½ Tbsp tomato paste with enough water to dilute to the consistency of pasatta
- 2 Tbsp cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
- 15 oz curry base
- 10-12 oz pre-cooked chicken, beef or lamb
- ½ tsp sugar
- 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Make the spice mix.
- Dilute the tomato paste with enough water to get to the consistency of passata.
- Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add the oil.
- When the oil starts to shimmer add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cardamom pods. Toss the whole spices around the pan for about 15 seconds until bubbles start to form around them. They may crackle a bit.
- Add the onions or shallots and chopped cilantro and stir constantly until the edges of the onions start to brown. This takes about a minute.
- Next comes the garlic ginger paste. Add it into the pan and cook it, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
- Turn down the heat and add the spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn.
- Turn the heat up to medium high. This is important. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form (the oil will likely separate). This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
- Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here. Sticking is OK. Burning is bad. Just scrape anything that forms back into the curry. If it really burns, chuck it and start again...
- Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked lamb, beef or chicken.
- Mix in the sugar.
- Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they are heated through.
- Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.