Lamb Curry

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Adapted from The Blue Elephant Cookbook


  • 1 lb lean roasting lamb, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 thin slices ginger
  • 4 good-sized coriander (cilantro) plants with roots
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 6 Tbsp massaman curry paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • generous pinches (about 1/8 tsp each) of:
    • cinnamon
    • ground coriander
    • cardamom
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 6 medium shallots (about 10 oz), peeled
  • 6 Tbsp palm sugar (about 3 lumps, or substitute brown sugar)
  • 3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla - Tiparos is the usual brand)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate (we use an Indian brand, or use 6-8 Tbsp tamarind juice)
  • 1 oz cashews
  • 4 tsp cream of coconut milk (optional)


Heat the oil to 350°F in a wok or other vessel for deep frying. Fry the lamb for about 5 minutes, or until well-browned. You may need to remove it sooner if it looks like it is charring. Remove to paper towels to drain. Let the oil come back to temperature and fry the potatoes for about 10 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, thoroughly clean the coriander roots. Take the roots and about 3 inches of the lower stems of the coriander and process with the garlic and ginger in a food processor to finely chop. (Coriander, or cilantro as it is often called when not referring to its seeds, is often sold without the roots attached, but if you look around you might get lucky. If you have only have part of the roots, or very small bunches, use more; if you have no root at all, you can use just stems, but more of them. Without roots, you probably need stems from most of a small bunch.)

Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the curry paste and spices and fry for about 5 minutes. (The original recipe said it should become fragrant, but I didn't notice any change.) Add the coconut milk, lamb, potatoes, and whole shallots.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the sugar and nam pla. Simmer about 5 minutes. Add the tamarind concentrate and 1/4 cup water. Simmer 5-10 more minutes, adding a bit more water if the sauce is too thick.

Briefly fry the cashews in a bit of oil. Transfer the curry to its serving dish, then dot with coconut cream and sprinkle with cashews and some cilantro leaves. Serve over jasmine rice.


† For the authentic Ironic Chefs version, you need to substitute about 1 Tbsp red curry paste for a similar amount of the massaman, because we ran out of the massaman. It turns out that the massaman curry paste recipe doesn't make quite enough for a batch and a half of lamb curry.

Most of the ingredients are pretty widely available, but you might be interested in our list of sources for Thai groceries in the Boston area.