Kerala Lamb Curry

inline_kerala curry 2Kerala lamb curry forgoes the thick, soup-like sauce often associated with curry. Instead, chunks of meat soak up almost all the sauce, creating a fragrant stew of spices and meat that can be eaten with a fork, no spoon or rice needed.

Recipes for Kerala lamb curry vary slightly in their cooking methods and ingredient lists. What the recipes all share are tender chunks of lamb, plus lots of spices. This recipe uses ingredients you probably have in your kitchen already—coriander, turmeric, onion, garlic, shallot, ginger, coconut milk—and a few you might have to search out, like Kashmiri chili powder and fresh curry leaves.

If you have an Indian grocery store in your city, this recipe is a good reason to visit. Or, you can hunt and gather the ingredients on the Internet. You’ll be rewarded with a richly flavored and complex dish with outstanding levels of antioxidants from the wide array of spices. Plus, you’ll also get all the good stuff that lamb brings to a dish, like 8 essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and protein.

This curry is great the night it’s made, and tastes just as good the second or even third day after.

Servings: 6

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour



  • 2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch/25 mm pieces (1 kg)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (10 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder, divided* (10 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander (10 ml)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric (2.5 ml)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (60 ml)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (5 ml)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves (leaves pulled from stems)
  • 2 inches/50 mm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 or 2 green chilies, sliced (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk (240 ml)
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala (2.5 ml)
  • Garnish: unsweetened coconut flakes and cilantro


seasoned meat

Recipe Note: Kashmiri chili powder can be found in some grocery stores and most Indian food stores. It adds bright red color and medium heat.

Season the lamb with salt, Kashmiri chili powder, coriander, and turmeric. Rub the spices into the meat. Let the meat sit and “marinate” while you prep the rest of the ingredients for the recipe.

Sear the meat in batches, browning on all sides. Pour ½ cup water into the skillet, using a spatula to scrape up any bits of meat or spices that have stuck to the skillet. Pour the water into a pressure cooker and add the meat. Cook the stew meat in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. If the meat is not tender, set the pressure cooker for 10 more minutes.

In a Dutch oven or wide, deep skillet, warm coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until very soft, 10 minutes or more. If needed, turn heat down slightly so onion doesn’t burn.

When onion is soft, turn heat up to medium high. If the skillet is dry, add a little more oil. Add mustard seeds. Cook 1 minute, then add shallot and curry leaves. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, then add ginger, garlic, green chilies, garam masala and remaining teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder.

Add coconut milk, lamb and ½ cup of the liquid in the pressure cooker. Simmer until the sauce is almost entirely absorbed by the meat.

Garnish with coconut flakes and cilantro.


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9 thoughts on “Kerala Lamb Curry”

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  1. I don’t have a pressure cooker. How long should I cook it for in a regular pot?

  2. sounds great and I am looking forward to it.

    However. . . cocoanut is like kryptonite to my wife. Any substitutes you could suggest for the cocoanut milk??

    1. I can’t do coconut milk either. You could try substituting light cream (half & half) or a combination of chicken or beef broth and cream. I would probably just use broth and maybe a splash of wine. It won’t taste quite the same but should still be pretty good.

  3. really! 🙂 Mark and the worker bee touched my heart and soul with this dish 🙂 . what about adding Kerala beef fry sometime ? 🙂 .. a wonderful mix of spices and beef pressure cooked to tenderness and stir fried (to evaporate the water content) in coconut oil with byte size chunks for coconut pieces, some sprigs curry leaves and green chilly.

  4. I made this recipe using ground lamb. I didn’t have onion so I used just shallots. I didn’t have chili powder so I ground some red pepper flakes. I didn’t have coriander so I used italian seasoning. I didn’t have garam masala so I looked up a recipe and had everything but nutmeg. It turned out fantastic.

  5. Made this yesterday with beef instead of lamb, and in a slow cooker instead of a pressure cooker. To adapt it for the crockpot, I left out the water in the recipe, and cooked it on high for five hours, then transferred it to a pot on the stove to simmer (partially covered and on low heat) and reduce for another hour. Turned out brilliantly – the meat was falling apart and super tender, nom