Lamb Korma

The Food of Love

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Uncle Stanley glimpsed his future every day. It felt so close yet elusively unobtainable.

He’d been wounded deeply by a dart from cupid’s bow and the object of his desire was an angelic vision of Cockney charm with high cheekbones, an East End brogue and razor-sharp wit. He worked the line at Black & Decker and she was office staff. His charm offensive consisted of Hai Karate aftershave, slicked hair, flared collars and a movie-star moustache. Stan wasn’t alone in his admiration for Doreen Crew’s looks and character, but he fought valiantly in the battleground of love until he captured her heart. They were soulmates for over thirty years, competing against ugly looks from strangers, whose eyes questioned their mixed-race union. Many doubted that this cross-cultural marriage could work, but in the end their devotion to each other silenced the cynics.

I remember my aunt as a woman with joie de vivre. She had a taste for curry and a weakness for quality rum, both of which she enjoyed until her early departure from us all. She acquired a voracious appetite for Stan’s curry, and amongst her favourites was an old classic: korma. Unlike the insipid impostor on many an Indian take-away menu, this dish didn’t contain cream or nuts and come with a ‘mild’ rating. Instead its intense deep flavours and rich sauce set off a round of delightful fireworks, as if our taste buds were celebrating some auspicious occasion. I call it ‘kismet korma’ (which means it’s ‘meant to be’), because for my auntie Doreen it truly was love at first bite and it's an easy Indian lamb korma recipe. 

Kismet lamb korma

How To Make Lamb Korma

Serves 4–6

  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg boneless mutton, diced
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, pounded into powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 400g natural yoghurt
  • 5 green chillies
  • 250g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml water
  • 1 tsp kewra (aka screwpine or pandanus water) or rosewater
  • Coriander leaves, chopped
  • Cook this the night before you want to eat it.

Fry up the onions in the oil until crispy and golden, then set them aside on kitchen towel to dry out. Keep the oil. In the same pan, using the onion oil, brown off the mutton, adding the cardamom, fennel, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. When the mutton is browned, drop in the cloves, peppercorns and salt and cook over a low heat for around 30 minutes, until the meat has started to cook in its own juices and the mix is looking darker. Blend the yoghurt, chillies, reserved fried onions and tomatoes, turning it into a paste. Add the paste into the pan and swish the ingredients around until everything is coated. Turn up the heat to medium and cook for a further 1½ hours, making sure you stir frequently. To stop the ingredients drying out and sticking to the bottom of the pan, add the water at intervals. The curry shouldn’t be too runny. Just before serving, add a teaspoon of kewra or rosewater.

It takes time but classics like these shouldn’t be rushed. Serve this Indian lamb korma recipe with rotis or rice and garnish with chopped coriander.

Try this and scores more recipes from my cookbook Urban Rajah's Curry Memoirs BUY IT NOW!!

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Tried this curry last night, thought it was excellent!
Made it for me and five friends.
Will be doing again next week 10/10

By mark mason on May 30, 2013

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Hi Mark, nice work…glad it worked out for you, let me know what else is on the menu and I’ll be over! Spread the word…

By Urban Rajah on May 30, 2013

If I want to use bone-in mutton, should I increase the amount of mutton used? I also noticed on the video when you use/say a “teaspoon” or “tablespoon” you are going off cutlery. Would that be approximately the same as the US standard measuring teaspoon and tablespoon? Just want to make sure I follow your recipe to a T (except for having bone-in mutton lol) smile

By Rachel on June 10, 2013

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Hi Rachel, yep depending on how many you’re feeding you’ll want to increase the weight by approximately a quarter. Thinking about measuring in US terms, you’ll want to use 1 teaspoon i.e. 5 grams and a tablespoon i.e. 15 grams in weight, don’t worry if you go a little off piste as this curry is a pretty forgiving recipe. All the best with it and do share your experience!

By Urban Rajah on June 11, 2013

This was wonderful, I made it with lamb neck filet and reduced the cooking time. I have been cooking Indian food for nearly 40 years. These recipes are easy to cook and inspirational, guess I will have to buy the book.

By Shirls on June 15, 2013

Hi…love your recipes…so glad I found this web site. I made the Kismet Korma on your youtube page and everyone loves it. Love your style of presenting !!  Looking forward to trying the rest of them.

By Jan on January 30, 2014

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Jan, I cooked this dish very recently and every time I taste it….I can’t help going back for that wrong?!

By Urban Rajah on January 30, 2014

Superb recipe and so different to the British ‘take-away’ version. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against an occasional dose of the sweet, creamy coconut stuff but this was a different level of curry. I cheated a bit and used chicken [reducing the cooking time a little to compensate], rather than lamb, and it still tasted great. However, I can definitely see how it would have worked better with some lamb, slow cooked until it was practically falling apart. Thanks!

By Antony on October 31, 2014

If I am wanting to use beef what would be the best cut to use and what sized pieces?

By Casey Read on February 06, 2018

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Hi Casey - sure thing, beef will work. I tend to use stewing beef cut into 2cm cubes approximately…a similar cooking time will work too. Hope that helps.

By Urban Rajah on February 11, 2018

Do you grind the cardamom pods, cloves & peppercorns?

By Malcolm on May 01, 2018

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HI you’ll want to leave these whole as they soften during the cooking process and the whole spices will infuse the oil and the meat at the same time. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for dropping by.

By Urban Rajah on May 25, 2018

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