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Monday, June 17, 2024

Lamb Korma curry | RecipeTin Eats


Rich with coconut cream and cashews, Lamb Korma is gently spiced and mildly sweet. It’s so family-friendly and easy to love, I call it “the other butter chicken!” Serve this lamb curry with basmati rice and homemade naan for a cosy Indian night in. Update: slow cooker, instant pot and pressure cooker directions added by popular demand!

Lamb korma curry ready to eat

Lamb Korma curry

Not all curries are fiery hot and intense flavoured, like Vindaloo and Rogan Josh. Like – everybody’s favourite Butter Chicken. And today’s Lamb Korma! The sauce is gently flavoured with spices, and it’s not spicy at all. It’s got a triple hit of creamy – pureed cashews, coconut cream and regular cream. And it’s a little bit sweet.

I describe it as “family friendly curry”, being one that everyone can enjoy!

Pot of Lamb Korma Curry

Why make your own Lamb Korma?

Most Lamb Korma curries I’ve had at restaurants are far too sweet and much too oily for my taste. Same with jarred sauces from shops which also tend to completely lack depth of flavour.

I mean, Korma is supposed to be a bit sweet. But not candy sweet!!

Making Lamb Korma at home is so much better. It’s reliable, far cheaper, healthier and it’s really no harder than making a regular beef stew. Plus, you’ll find everything you need from large grocery stores except perhaps Kashmiri chilli which you can easily substitute with smoked paprika + cayenne pepper.

Are you ready to make your own Lamb Korma with fall-apart lamb smothered in a gorgeous creamy cashew-coconut sauce?? Yes you are!!

PS Proof of fall-apart lamb hunks:

Lamb Korma Curry close up of fall apart lamb

About this Lamb Korma curry

There are many types of kormas. Some of the more authentic versions I’ve had are brutally rich and wildly spicy (but delicious!) This lamb korma is the much mellower style we’re more used to Indian restaurants in the West that have creamy, subtly spiced sauces that are mildly sweet.

This recipe was created by my brother. His kitchen superpower is making recipes that call for juggling complex flavours. So I often turn to him to help with curries like this! We had a few “heated debates” arriving at the end result – he! But we got there, and everybody who tried it loved it. We hope you do too!

Ingredients in Lamb Korma curry

As I mentioned earlier, you should be able to find all the key ingredients from regular grocery stores (albeit large ones, perhaps not your cheerful local corner store!). There are a couple of speciality items you might not be able to find (ghee, Kashmiri powder) but there are easy substitutes!

1. Best lamb cut for lamb korma

Lamb shoulder is the best cut because it becomes meltingly tender with hours of slow cooking to break down the tough fibres. We cut the meat into large cubes else they will cook too quickly, before the sauce has had sufficient time to develop flavour.

The recipe calls for 800g/1.6 lb lamb sounds like a lot for 4 servings, but it shrinks a lot! In fact, the initial recipe used 600g of meat but it wasn’t enough for 4 adults.

Other lamb cuts – I can’t think of any other cut of lamb that will produce the same results, not even other slow cooking cuts of lamb. For example, there’s not enough meat on lamb shanks to cut large 5cm/2″ cubes we need for lamb korma. You can cook the shanks whole, though there’s not enough liquid to submerge 4 shanks. Lamb neck is great for slow cooking but too bony for this recipe (again, can’t cut large chunks). Lamb leg is too lean, and it’s illegal in my books to cook lamb cutlets and backstrap beyond medium rare (too expensive!).

Like I said, I can’t think of any other lamb cut suitable for this recipe. I have applied thought to it!!

Other meat (beef, pork) – Korma is traditionally made with lamb and the distinct flavour of lamb is partly what makes the korma curry sauce so special. However, the recipe will work as written with similar slow-cooking cuts of beef (chuck or boneless rib are the ones I’d recommend) or pork (pork shoulder). Chicken isn’t suitable for this recipe as written because it will be way overcooked in the time it takes to develop enough flavour in the sauce. I’d have to concentrate the sauce flavour a bit, so it’s a separate recipe!

2. lamb korma spices

Here are the spices you need for lamb korma. Don’t worry if you can’t find Kashmiri chilli powder! There’s an easy substitute.

  • Kashmiri chilli powder is a spicy, smoky Indian chilli powder sold at Indian grocery stores and some speciality stores. Substitute with 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika plus 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

  • Garam masala– a spice mix used in Indian cooking that is easily found these days in the spice aisle of large grocery stores. Think of it as the better curry powder! If you can’t find it, substitute with an Indian curry powder.

  • Green cardamom pods – These are fairly easily found these days in regular grocery stores. They have a kind of citrusy fresh herbal flavour.

  • Turmeric powder – Bright yellow powder that adds earthy flavour.

  • Ginger powder – a warm flavour that is quite different to fresh ginger.

  • Cinnamon sticks – Sticks rather than powder add a subtle perfume of flavour into the sauce.

3. onion-garlic-ginger paste & cashew puree

Two unique aspects of this curry is the use of pureed cashew to thicken and enrich the sauce, and starting the curry sauce with a good amount of sautéed pureed onion, ginger and garlic. Don’t even think about just using chopped onion, it’s not the same at all!

  • Onion – Use brown or yellow onions.

  • Garlic – 8 whole, large cloves!

  • Ginger – A 5 cm/2″ piece, skin scraped or cut off then sliced.

  • Cashews – Roasted, unsalted cashews which we puree into a thick sauce with a little water.

4. everything else for the curry sauce

And here’s everything else we need to make Lamb Korma:

  • Ghee – A type of clarified butter used in Indian cooking, tastes like butter on steroids! It has a texture and melts like butter but can be kept in the pantry rather than in the fridge. Fairly readily available these days in the Indian section of large grocery stores, Indian and Asian shops, or make your own (super easy). Substitute with unsalted butter, or coconut oil (unrefined/virgin which has lovely coconut flavour).

  • Sugar – Just 4 teaspoons adds a touch of sweetness in the sauce.

  • Coconut cream – Thicker and richer than coconut milk! Full fat please. Low fat doesn’t have nearly as much coconut flavour.

  • Regular cream – Again, full fat please! Else the sauce will lack richness.

  • Chicken stock/broth – I see a lot of Indian home cooking recipes using water instead of stock or broth. To me, the sauce lacks depth of flavour when made using water. I have a theory that spices in India could be fresher and more aromatic that what we get a grocery stores in Western countries, which could explain this!


How to make Lamb Korma Curry

A stick blender is your friend here! Makes the pureeing of the onion and cashews a breeze. 🙂 While the onion can be pureed in a food processor, you will struggle with the cashews unless you have a small one because there isn’t enough volume.

  1. Puree onion – Place the onion, garlic and ginger into a tall container that fits the head of a stick blender. Blitz until smooth. It only takes about 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape it into a bowl, then set aside.

  2. Cashew puree – In the same jar, blitz the cashews and water with the stick blender until smooth. It will only take about 10 seconds. Cover the mouth of the jar with your hand (to prevent flying cashew comets!). Then set aside. We will add it into the sauce partway through the slow cooking time.

  1. Cardamom sachet (OPTIONAL) – Bundle and tie the cardamom pods into a sachet using muslin or cheesecloth. Otherwise, just put the loose pods in the curry and pick them out when eating (this really doesn’t bother me, but I know someone people don’t like it!).

  2. Reduce onion puree – Melt and heat the ghee over high-heat. Then cook the onion puree for a good 8 minutes or until it reduces by half. Because it’s so watery, it won’t “sauté” like chopped onion. Rather, it just reduces and dries out. Don’t let it caramelise or brown.

  1. Add lamb then stir until the lamb changes from red to light brown. Don’t try to brown the meat – it won’t happen!

  2. Sauce – Stir in the ground spices (turmeric, ground ginger, garam marsala and kashmiri chilli). Then add the stock. The liquid will barely cover the meat. Add the cardamom pod sachet and cinnamon sticks, then stir. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid then transfer to the oven.

  1. Slow cook 2 hours – Cook for 1 1/2 hours at 180°C/350°F (160°C fan-forced). Stir in the pureed cashews, put the lid back on then return to the oven for another 30 minutes. The sauce should have thickened to a creamy consistency and lamb should be tender end to pull apart with forks with no effort.

Slow cooker, pressure cooker and instant pot METHODS

This Lamb Korma can be made in a slow cooker, pressure cooker or instant pot. But the recipe needs to be altered else the sauce lacks flavour. This is because you don’t get surface caramelisation when using slow cookers etc, like you do in the oven which adds flavour in the sauce. Also, because there is no evaporation, the liquid in the sauce needs to be reduced else the sauce ends up too thin with diluted flavour.

So I’ve added directions in the recipe notes for how to make this in a slow cooker, instant pot etc, adding steps to brown the meat off and reduce the liquid in the sauce to address the above. It works really well!

  1. Finish & serve  – Place the pot on a low heat. Add the sugar, salt, coconut cream and cream, then stir. Simmer for 2 minutes, then it’s ready to serve. Look at the sauce!! Full of the promise of flavour!

Lamb Korma Curry in a pot

What to serve with Lamb Korma

Serve over basmati rice, the type of rice traditionally served with Indian food. It’s more aromatic than plain white rice though really, you can use any type of rice in a pinch – see options here.

Adding naan for dunking is highly recommended! It’s exceptional – fluffy, bubbly and chewy like real restaurant naan rather than just a basic flatbread which all too many recipes are. It is a yeast dough, but it doesn’t require kneading!

Eating Lamb Korma Curry

If you’re looking to put on a full Indian feast (I feel you must, one of these days!), try Samosas or Pakoras as starters and add a Tomato Salad with Minted Yogurt Dressing as a fresh vegetable side.

suggested dishes to serve alongside lamb korma

Regretfully, I don’t have any Indian dessert recipes. The closest I can offer up is a Persian Love Cake which is a gently spiced cake made with almond meal and semolina. Strictly speaking, it’s Middle Eastern (and in fact, was part of a Middle Eastern menu I shared, find it in the Persian Love Cake recipe) but the flavours would fit in nicely for an Indian themed dinner! – Nagi x

PS I just had another thought – Mango Ice Cream (no ice cream maker method) or Mango Cheesecake would also suit nicely, being that India is rather obsessed with mangoes!


Watch how to make it

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Lamb korma curry ready to eat

Lamb korma curry

Servings4

Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. In stark contrast to bold spicy curries like Vindaloo, Lamb Korma is creamy, nutty and gently spiced. It’s easy to love and so family-friendly, I call it the “other butter chicken“! Slow cooked until the meat is fall-apart tender, I particularly love the subtle cashew flavour in the sauce from the pureed cashews, and the distinct flavour that lamb adds to sauce.* Oven method yields the best flavour but see note 8 for slow cooker, instant pot and pressure cooker methods. Super handy, and I was very happy with it!

Instructions

  • Onion puree – Place the onion, garlic and ginger into a tall container that fits the head of a stick blender. Blitz until smooth – about 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape into a bowl, set aside.

  • Cashew puree – In the same jar, while covering the mouth of the jar with your hand (to prevent flying cashew comets), blitz the cashews and water with the stick blender until smooth, about 10 seconds. , Set aside.

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan-forced).

  • Reduce onion puree – Melt and heat ghee in a ~24 cm/ 10″ oven-proof pot over high-heat. Cook the onion puree, stirring regularly, for 8 minutes until it has reduced by half. Don’t let it caramelise.

  • Add lamb, reduce to medium-high heat then stir until the meat changes from red to light brown. Don’t try to brown the meat (it won’t happen).

  • Sauce – Add turmeric, ground ginger, garam marsala and kashmiri chilli, then stir through. Pour in the stock (the liquid should just barely cover the meat). Add cardamom pod sachet and cinnamon sticks, then stir. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid then transfer to the oven.

  • Slow cook – Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Stir in Cashew Puree, put the lid back on then return to the oven for another 30 minutes. The sauce should have thickened to a creamy consistency and lamb should be tender end to pull apart with forks with no effort. (Note 6)

  • Creamy sauce – Place the pot on a low heat. Add the sugar, salt, coconut cream and cream, then stir. Simmer for 2 minutes, then you’re done!

  • Serve over basmati rice with a sprinkle of cashew nuts and coriander, if desired. Naan for dunking highly recommended!

Recipe Notes:

1. Ghee – A type of clarified butter used in Indian cooking, tastes like butter on steroids! Fairly readily available these days in the Indian section of large grocery stores, Indian and Asian shops. Substitute with unsalted butter, or coconut oil (unrefined/virgin which has lovely coconut flavour).
2. Lamb shoulder is the best because it becomes meltingly tender with hours of slow cooking to break down the tough fibres. No other cut of lamb will produce the same results (see Ingredients section for commentary). Cut large cubes else they will cook too quickly, before the sauce has had sufficient time to develop flavour. PS I know 800g/1.6 lb lamb sounds like a lot for 4 servings, but it shrinks a lot! 
Other meat – Beef chuck or boneless ribs, or pork shoulder, follow recipe as written, though note that korma is most commonly made with lamb.
3. Garam masala is a spice mix used in Indian cooking that is easily found these days in the spice aisle of large grocery stores. Think of it as the better curry powder! If you can’t find it, substitute with an Indian curry powder.
4. Kashmiri is a spicy, smoky Indian chilli powder sold at Indian grocery stores and some speciality stores. Substitute with 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika plus 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
5. Cardamom – Bundle up and tie to hold the cardamom pods in a bag. Otherwise, just put the loose pods in the curry and pick them out when eating (this really doesn’t bother me, but I know someone people don’t like it!).
6. Avoid low fat! If you go down the low-fat path, you will find that the sauce lacks the creamy mouthfeel and Korma-coconut-flavour. I really recommend sticking to full fat!
7. Sauce thickness – If the sauce is not thick enough, just reduce on the stove before adding the cream and coconut cream. If the lamb is not tender enough, cover and return to the oven in 10 minute increments.
8. Slow cooker, pressure cooker, instant pot method – Need to alter recipe else the sauce lacks flavour because the meat is not browned off and you don’t get surface caramelisation like you do in the oven. Here’s how to do it:

  • Reduce chicken stock/broth by 1 cup
  • Increase coconut cream and cream to 2/3 cup each, and increase salt by 1/4 tsp.
  • Puree cashews with 1/3 cup chicken stock instead of water
  • Start on stove or sauté function of instant pot/slow cooker.
  • Melt all the ghee OR 1 tbsp plain oil on high heat then brown the surface of the lamb in batches (but still raw inside). Remove. (If you used oil, add butter now). 
  • Cook down the onion puree per recipe then follow recipe as written (returning browned lamb into pot) up to step 6.
  • Add cashew puree and coconut cream (but not regular cream), bring to simmer. Transfer everything into slow cooker/IP (scrape out pot well!). 
  • Cook times – Slow cooker (LOW 8 hrs, HIGH 3 hrs), pressure cooker/IP HIGH 40 min.
  • Stir in regular cream. Simmer with lid off if needed to thicken sauce (shouldn’t need, but sometimes lamb drops more juices than expected). Serve!

Storage  – Leftovers will keep for 3 days, though I always feel the spice flavours start fading!
Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings. Does not include rice or naan.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 604cal (30%)Carbohydrates: 23g (8%)Protein: 33g (66%)Fat: 44g (68%)Saturated Fat: 26g (163%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 143mg (48%)Sodium: 1012mg (44%)Potassium: 820mg (23%)Fiber: 5g (21%)Sugar: 8g (9%)Vitamin A: 444IU (9%)Vitamin C: 6mg (7%)Calcium: 99mg (10%)Iron: 5mg (28%)

Life of Dozer

This week, we had a photo shoot at Bayview dog beach with Rob, Dozer’s favourite photographer. He can only do these sprints for short bursts these days. So what a treat it was to have it captured – thank you Rob!

Also, Dozer says sorry for spitting sand on the very expensive lenses….

DOZER FOOD CREATION CONTINUES

And in the kitchen, the new senior-citizen Dozer swallow-safe food project continues. I think I’m getting close! Inspired by the soft, slippery, bouncy Asian fish balls, I think I’ve come up with a formula and method to make large quantities of swallow-friendly food that will work with most proteins as well as incorporating fresh vegetables.

Glutinous rice flour seems to be the key, to hold the mixture together without drying it out!

The ability to make big-batch food is important for me because Dozer eats a LOT!! 1 kg / 2 lb a day, to be exact. What you see above is just 2 1/2 days worth of food for him!!

I haven’t forgotten my promises to share the recipe. I just hesitate to share anything before I get fully comfortable with it myself because it’s designed for dogs with medical conditions and I am not a qualified veterinarian or nutritionist for that matter. I shall be caveating heavily when I share the recipe!

Oh, and a snap from this morning on his Digestion Bed on which he perches for 30 minutes after every meal, set on an incline to coax food does his throat. He’s very comfortable on it these days! And why wouldn’t he be? I wouldn’t complain if someone told me I had to lounge on a soft bed after every meal!

And in case you are wondering if Dozer is still able to carry out his important work as the Chief Recipe Tester of RecipeTin Eats – yes he is. He can’t have everything – flaky / crunchy things like croissants and crispy biscuits are too dangerous because little bits are at risk of being inhaled into his lungs = aspiration pneumonia = bad.

But if it can be squished and rolled into a rough ball shape, it’s fine!

Here he is, taste testing pikelets earlier this week. With jam and cream, of course.

Look at the intense concentration and focus in his eyes! (Well, perhaps wild-eyed excitement is a more accurate description 😂).

Thank you, as always, for the messages of concern, support, advice and suggestions you have shared as we’ve moved into Dozer’s senior years and with it, the inevitable problems that come with age.

In all honesty, he is doing so, so well. I truly believe getting back into a routine of good real food has made such a difference to his well being. I think he has more to go and I’m very committed to continuing with his physical therapy and ensuring he gets all the nutrition he needs.

He’s worth it. He’s an important company asset!! 😂



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