Lamb in Creamy Green Cardamom Curry

Serve this lamb curry with rice or naan bread or over boiled, salted potatoes.

  • By Vikram Vij & Meeru Dhalwala
  • September 1, 2010
  • Yield: 6-8


3 lbs stewing lamb – trimmed of fat and cubed
1⁄3 to ½ cup cooking oil
1 large onion – chopped
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
12 cloves garlic – chopped
¾ cup crushed canned tomatoes
1½ tsp turmeric
1½ tbsp ground black mustard seeds (optional)
1½ tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp ground cumin
10 to 12 green cardamom pods – lightly pounded
1 tbsp salt
1 cup water (for oven method) or 2 cups water (for stovetop method)
1½ cups buttermilk or plain yogurt (minimum 2% milk fat) or ¾ cup whipping cream


There are two main ways to make this dish. For dinner parties, we cook the traditional way on the stovetop, sautéing the onions and masala in a pot and then cooking the lamb. But on workdays, Meeru mixes all the ingredients together in a large casserole dish and puts everything in the oven about 1 ½ hours before dinner. The oven method doesn’t have the same punch or deep colour of the sautéed masala, but when convenience reigns, it’s still delicious.

Feel free to replace the buttermilk with either stirred yogurt or whipping cream. Buttermilk or yogurt gives the curry a slight tang, whereas the cream makes it richer. We serve this lamb curry with rice or naan bread, but it is also delicious over boiled, salted potatoes. Serves 6 to 8.

Oven method: Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

Place all ingredients in a large casserole dish and mix until well combined. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil, place in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Using a sharp knife, poke a piece of lamb to make sure it is tender. If it is still slightly tough in the centre, bake for another 15 to 30 minutes or until cooked. Turn off the heat and allow lamb to rest in the oven, covered, until serving time.

Stovetop method: Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan on high for 1 minute. Add onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden. Add asafoetida and stir for 1 minute. Stir in garlic and sauté until golden (about 1 to 2 minutes). Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomatoes. Add turmeric, mustard seeds, cayenne, paprika, cumin, cardamom and salt, then stir and cook for 5 minutes, or until oil glistens on the tomatoes.

Stir in lamb, mixing until well combined. Pour in water and mix well. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 50 minutes.

Place buttermilk (or yogurt or cream) in a medium bowl. Whisk about 1 cup of the hot curry into the buttermilk to prevent curdling, then pour the mixture into the pot of curry. Cover and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife, poke a piece of lamb to make sure it is tender. If it is still slightly tough in the centre, continue cooking for another 15 minutes or until tender. (It should take no longer than 1 ½ hours to cook the lamb.) Turn off the heat and allow lamb to rest on the stove, covered, until serving time.

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