Rajasthani Kick-Ass Lamb Curry – Laal Maas

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Sometimes a kick-ass curry is what one needs to enliven the senses and to feel blessed to be alive. It also does wonders if you are suffering from a cold or feeling a little run down. This curry, known as Laal Maas – which in Hindi translates as  ‘red meat’ – is a traditional Rajasthani dish that is loved, adored and eaten in every Rajasthani household. My version is not ‘blow your brains out’ chilli hot, although it does have more heat than the majority of my Indian curries on my blog.  I think if you generally like spice then this will appeal. If you are more of a korma person then I would give laal maas a wide berth.

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I cooked it earlier in the week when I had a bunch of friends over for supper and not one lamb morsel or spoonful of sauce was left. I served it with an ivy gourd/tindora/gentleman’s toes curry – see recipe here as I felt they would compliment and not overpower one another. I also made some pakora with some homemade coriander chutney and tamarind and date chutney – recipes for all of these I will post soon.

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Rajasthani cooking is traditionally a lot spicy than Bengali and this dish clearly demonstrates this. It is not a hot as you may think, largely owning to the Kashmiri chilli powder that is added which gives the curry a deep red colour but not so much heat that it is difficult to eat. The yoghurt also tones the down the heat making it enjoyably palatable. Not one of my guests requested milk to deaden the heat or were perspiring uncontrollably. So give it a go. I like to cook it earlier in the day and then gently reheat before serving. I find that leaving it to rest a while before reheating also calms the heat so don’t stress if you taste a spoonful when it is cooking in the first instance as it will calm down if it is left for a few hours.

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Laal Maas – Rajasthani Kick-Ass Lamb Curry

Serves 6

125ml vegetable oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

6 cloves

6 fresh red chillies, storks removed (you can also used dried – see footnote)

1/2 mace blade

6 green cardamom pods, opened

2 black cardamom pods

2 large red onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 tbsp ginger paste

1.2kg lamb, diced

2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp salt

250g plain yoghurt, whisked

coriander to serve – optional

1. Using a pestle and mortar (or a bowl and the end of a rolling pan if you do not have one), gently bash the green cardamom pods so that they open and some of the seeds come out. Place to one side. If you are making your own ginger and garlic paste I find gently grating them first is the best way to form a paste. Add a drop or two of water to make a more paste like consistency. For this recipe I used a jar of garlic paste and ginger paste for ease and speed.

2. In a large pan or casserole dish add the oil and when it is hot, but on a medium heat, add the cumin seeds and move them around the pan for 30 seconds to allow the flavours to open up.

3. Add the chilli, the green and black cardamom pods, mace blade and cloves and continue to move around the pan for a further minute.

4. Add the sliced onion and cook on a low heat for 6-8 minutes, by which time the onion will begin to brown in colour.

5. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir in well with the other ingredients and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes.

6. Now add the diced lamb and completely coat in all the ingredients. Add the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder and salt and leave to cook gently so the lamb has browned – this will take up to 10 minutes.

7. Place the whisked yoghurt into the pan and fold into the lamb. Cook for a further 5 minutes, before reducing the heat and allowing the lamb to simmer in the sauce for 40 minutes. Continue to stir intermittently.

8. Ideally cook this curry at least a few hours before serving allowing the curry to rest. When you are ready to eat gently reheat and if you like scatter with coriander before serving.

Serve with Basmalti rice or Indian flat bread to mop.

The same curry can be made easily with either chicken or goat. 

You can also used dried Kashmiri chillies. Best to soak them in warm water for 10 minutes and then either keep them whole or blitz them to make a coarse paste. 

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Goat Curry….I’m not kidding!

I have had a frozen goat, well part of one, sitting at the bottom of our freezer for quite some time, so I thought it was high time I dug it out. As my mother-in-law was returning from her two month vacation in Kolkata I thought goat curry might be the perfect dish to welcome her back to the UK. I adore goat, but I realise that perhaps it is not as easy to come by as lamb. If you live near a Middle Eastern or Asian butcher you will be able to purchase it without too much trouble. If however this is tricky for you, lamb works equally well for this curry.

As with all the Indian recipes, there is a certain amount of artistic license involved with creating them, so whilst I list a teaspoon of this and a teaspoon of that, if you put a little extra or less it will alter the dynamics slightly but still taste really good;  just remember it is not an exact science as baking is. Scales are not commonly used in Indian kitchens, instead the cook relies more on sight, smell and taste to get the right balance in a dish. After you have cooked the dish a number of times, you too will improvise more with the quantities, but until then it is best to follow my amounts listed below.

Goat Curry

Serves 4-6


1,600 kg goat, diced into mouth sized portions

1 yellow onion, grated

2 inch fresh ginger, grated

1 whole garlic, grated

2 tbsp malt vinegar

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

2 tbsp yoghurt

3 tbsp mustard oil

3 bay leaves

4 tbsp tinned tomatoes

2 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp ghee (optional)

1. Dice the goat (or lamb) into bite sized morsels and remove excess fat.

2. Grate the onion, ginger and garlic and add to the meat. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, sugar, salt, yoghurt, malt vinegar, coriander and cumin  powder. Some cooks like to add a little mustard oil at this stage, however, I felt that it was unnecessary.

3. Really mix the ingredients into the goat meat thoroughly and if you have time leave to marinate in the fridge between 4-6 hours.

4. Heat the oil in a pan and add the bay leaves a few seconds before adding the marinated goat meat. Let it simmer gently, stirring from time to time.

5. After about 10 minutes of cooking add the tinned tomatoes and continue to simmer. You will probably need to add a little water, so gradually put in a little at a time so that there is some sauce and is not too dry.

6. The curry should take just under 1 hour to cook. 10 minutes before you turn off the heat add the garam masala and stir in well to the curry.

7. To enhance the flavour further you can also add a little ghee, but this is not essential and if you are watching your waste line then you might want to ignore this ingredient.

Serve with rice, paratha, luchi, roti.

Please note: it is great to cook in advance and then reheat before serving hot. I find curries taste better if they have had time to rest for sometime before eating. If there is leftovers you can keep in the fridge and eat the next day.