laal maas – spicy lamb curry

Laal maas is a creamy, rich and spicy lamb curry from Rajasthan. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s time to fix that.

This is a homestyle curry. Not restaurant style. Slow cooking. Gentle simmering. Tender, flavourful lamb. And a crazy delicious sauce.

I do a lot of restaurant style Indian recipes on this blog. But don’t think I don’t love home cooking. It’s not what you get from your local joint. This is what people cook at home. For family. For friends.

If you’ve been making restaurant style curries. And you like a spicy lamb curry. Then laal maas is something you need to try.

Laal maas surrounded by lentils, rice and spinach.

Kashmiri chilies keep the fire down

Don’t be put off by the amount of chili in this recipe. It sounds like a lot. But it’s not that hot. I’d say medium hot. Tingle your tongue hot. Not burn a hole in the back of your head hot.

Technically laal maas is supposed to be a fiery lamb curry. I like hot. But not everybody does. So I tone it down a bit. If you want hotter then add more chili to the curry paste. Or mix in a bit of hot Indian chili powder in with the paste. Easy as that.

Laal maas is an Indian spicy lamb curry you need to try!

Kashmiri chilies are why it’s not screaming hot. Be sure you get the right ones. They give the curry a nice colour. And they aren’t that hot. Lots of flavour though. That’s why I’m a fan.

You can get them at any Indian grocer. Just ask them. They will fix you up.

Laal maas starts with a curry paste

This one does anyway. That’s one thing I have picked up from restaurant style cooking.

There’s a pretty good South Indian restaurant in town. They have shared some tips and tricks. For some of their curries they start with a paste.

Their vindaloo is based on a paste. They won’t give me the recipe but I can guess. In fact, I’m working on a vindaloo paste  right now. Stay tuned.

The idea of a chili paste is pretty common in Mexican cooking. I do it when I’m making chili. Puree the chilies along with some aromatics. Then fry it up to smooth out all the flavours. Works great.

So I make my laal maas with a paste. Not conventional. But a great way to do it. Streamlines the recipe some. And the flavours work well.

Laal maas with rice and raita from above.

Lamb shoulder for braises

Leg of lamb makes a great roast. Indian style or not. But I don’t think it makes the best laal maas. Or any lamb curry for that matter. Certainly your butcher isn’t cutting up leg of lamb and calling it lamb stew. No way. They would lose money.

But that’s not why I prefer lamb shoulder for curries. For any stew really. I like tougher cuts when I braise. Beef short ribs. Chuck. Pork shoulder.

See what I mean. You knew it too. Lamb is no different. Shoulder is cheaper too. It’s just a win win.

Laal maas can be made with goat meat as well. That’s actually what they usually use. They call it mutton but they mean goat.

If I could get fresh goat without driving clear across town I would make it with goat as well. But lamb curry rocks so I’m not too worried.

laal maas in a serving bowl

What’s with the pictures of really red laal maas?

I look at food pictures all the time. And I don’t understand what’s going on with some of the laal maas recipes out there.

There are 15 whole red chilies in the curry paste. There’s a full tablespoon of kashmiri chili powder. And a tablespoon of paprika. And it’s not bright red.

This laal maas is kind of reddish brown. Nowhere near the red I see out there.  Either they are putting in a cup of kashmiri chili or they are using food colour. My guess is food colour. Or photoshop. Don’t see how they get there otherwise.

Glebekitchen is what you see is what you get. Don’t expect a bright red curry if you make this recipe. Not going to happen. Sorry. Want red? Get food colour I guess…

Laal maas curry in a bowl from above.

A kick from the spicy raita

Raita is usually cooling. Something to put out the fire. Sometimes with cucumber and lemon. Sometimes just cilantro and salt. But usually a place to hide from the fire.

Not here though. Just the opposite. A couple crushed kashmiri chilis in the raita gives it some bite. It’s a little twist. If you think the curry has enough bite leave the chili out. Maybe add a little lemon juice instead. Make it your own.

Laal maas. Spicy lamb curry. Homestyle. Try it sometime. It’s just tasty, tasty Indian comfort food.

Laal maas curry with rice and raita
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5 from 10 votes

laal maas

Laal maas is a spicy lamb curry from Rajasthan India that's sure to be a crowd favourite.
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Keyword laal maas, lamb curry, spicy lamb curry
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 6
Calories 464kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


laal maas curry paste

  • 15 kashmiri chilies the dried ones
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2-3 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • enough water to form a paste

lamb marinade

  • 2/3 cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 lbs lamb shoulder cut into 1 inch chunks

laal maas

  • 4 cups onions finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp neutral oil total
  • 3 black cardamom
  • 5 green cardamom
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • the marinated lamb
  • the laal maas curry paste
  • 1 cup water

spiced raita

  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 kashmiri chilies crushed
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro


Make the laal maas curry paste

  • Seed and stem the dried kashmiri chilies. Just break them in half and give them a shake. A few seeds won't kill you.
  • Place the chilies in hot tap water and soak until rehydrated. This takes about 30 minutes.
  • Combine the rehydrated chilies along with the rest of the paste ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add a bit of water. Puree. Keep adding water until a paste forms. Really have at it. The skins from the chilies are pretty hard to break down.

Marinate the lamb

  • Combine the lamb, garam masala, yoghurt and salt. Mix. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Make the laal maas

  • Pre-heat your oven to 325F.
  • Pre-heat a dutch oven large enough to hold all the ingredients over medium heat. Add 4 tbsp of oil. 
  • Add the black and green cardamom and cook for 20-30 seconds. 
  • Add the onions and cook until they are well browned. Regulate the heat to prevent burning. Stir them often.
  • Push the onions to the side around the edges of the pot. Add the remaining two tbsp oil to the middle of the pot. Pour in the laal maas curry paste and fry until it darkens. This takes a couple minutes. Stir constantly and regulate the heat to avoid the paste burning. Watch your onions.
  • Once the curry paste has darkened slightly mix it in with the onions. Add the tomato paste. Cook the onion/paste mixture over medium low heat for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the lamb and marinade. Stir to mix everything together. Cook about 5 minutes over medium low heat. Don't forget to give it stir every minute or so.
  • Add one cup of water. Stir to combine. 
  • Cover and place the dutch oven in the 325F oven. Cook until the lamb is tender. This takes somewhere around 90 minutes to 2 hours. It depends on the size of the chunks. It's ready when it's ready.
  • Remove the pot from the oven. If the curry is a little thin simmer uncovered until you get the consistency you want. Spoon off the excess oil. But remember, there is flavour in that oil so leaving a bit behind is not the worst thing you can do...
  • Taste and adjust salt. Serve with spiced raita.

Spiced raita

  • Combine the yoghurt, salt, crushed chili and cilantro. Mix to combine. Let sit at room temperature while you cook your curry.


Serving: 6servings | Calories: 464kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 1448mg | Potassium: 844mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1335IU | Vitamin C: 11.5mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 4.7mg

32 thoughts on “laal maas – spicy lamb curry”

    • You are very welcome.

      I haven’t tried it (I love the smell in my kitchen when I do it in the oven) but yes, I’m pretty sure it would work just fine.

  1. Hi. I am getting prepped to make this – looks sooo delicious!! – but have a couple of questions about ingredients. If I can’t find the Kashmiri dried chilies and chili powder, are there decent substitutes? Also, if I can’t find black cardamom pods should I increase the green, or is there a different substitute? Thanks.

    • Tough one. The Kashmiri chilies and chili powder are already substitutes for the traditional mathania chili that is really hard to find. In Canada I get my kashmiri chilies, kashmiri chili powder and black cardamom at Indian grocers. The cardamom and chili powder I can always find. The Kashmiri chilies aren’t always at every Indian grocer all the time (in Ottawa) but they are available on Amazon. You won’t find any of these ingredients in a regular grocery store that I have ever seen.

      If you can’t get black cardamom just leave it out. It is a taste unto itself. Green is not a substitute.

      Sorry I don’t have an easier answer.

  2. 5 stars
    I also used some of the water from soaking the chillies but not the 1 cup at the end. Did increase the red colour of the sauce a bit I think.
    Utterly delicious recipe. Made this with mutton on the bone and slow cooked in my Instant Pot for around 2 hours 30 minutes.
    Will definitely be making this again.
    Yet another recipe I have printed out in case any of them disappear off the website… had this happen with other sites from time to time 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    This just gets better and better each time I cook it! Definitely our favourite curry! Swapped out the standard paprika for a heavily smoked variety to add that little extra smoky flavour … fabulous served with lavash bread!

  4. 5 stars
    Still rate this as one of our all time favourite curries. Rich unctuous sauce, flavours to die for … simply marvellous! The only downside is the cooking time LOL … definitely worth the wait though!

    • It is slow food for sure but so worth it. The real problem for me is the wonderful smell filling the house while you starve waiting for it:-)

  5. 5 stars
    The Laal Maas takes a bit longer than the restaurant style curries as it’s done from scratch each time but is very simple to make – also a bit less hectic and messy 🙂
    I’ve made it a few times and scale the recipe down by a 1/3 to make enough for 2-3 people at a time, leaving it in the oven for a shorter time (about 60 mins). Lovely rich deep taste.

    Also works great with Beef!

  6. Hi made this last night once again easy to follow and make! Really tasty my mum says her favourite so far! Thanks Romain!

  7. Hello Romain
    If I want a really red curry, I take the Ratan Jot root. I get this root from India, there are no such spices in Switzerland. This root, which is also called alkane root, is only soluble in alcohol, ether or oil. I therefore take 1 tablespoon of ratan jot and fry it in 2-3 tablespoons of ghee (or oil). As soon as the liquid turns dark red, I sift the Ratan Jot out of the liquid and then add the red oil to the curry.
    But there are also the so-called cockscomb blossoms that you boil in water until the water turns red, then sieve and add the red water to the curry. I also buy these flowers in India. Greetings from Switzerland Sonja Menzi

  8. 5 stars
    This was really easy to make, the times on the recipe are realistic. I liked the spiciness, but it is not too hot. I did take a small liberty with the instructions, anywhere that the recipe called for water to thin things out I substituted the water that had been used to soak the chillies, it looks like a red tea and has a little kick to it. I highly recommended Laal Maas.

    • Awesome to hear! I don’t use the chili water because I find sometimes (depends on the chilies I expect) it can be bitter. But if it’s not bitter that’s a great tip.

5 from 10 votes (1 rating without comment)

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