Lamb cutlets in masala with almond and pumpkin curry

Neil Perry
Sumptuous: Lamb cutlets with a pumpkin-almond curry.
Sumptuous: Lamb cutlets with a pumpkin-almond curry. Photo: William Meppem

Use freshly ground spices if possible to make the most of the rich, aromatic marinade in this dish. Pre-ground spices rarely match the flavour of whole seeds. Prepare the marinade a couple of hours before cooking the curry to allow the meat time to absorb the flavours. You could serve the curry alone for a vegetarian main.


12 lamb cutlets

vegetable oil

For the masala marinade

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

seeds of 8 cardamom pods

1 large handful coriander leaves

1 large handful mint leaves

1 tsp ground chilli

1 tsp ground turmeric

1½ tsp garam masala

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 heaped tbsp plain yoghurt

For the curry

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ tsp brown mustard seeds

1 cardamom pod, crushed

½ tsp cumin seeds

4 fresh curry leaves

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 small brown onion, cut into 1cm dice

350g butternut pumpkin, cut into 4cm chunks

⅔ cup coconut cream

½ tsp ground turmeric

¼ cup whole blanched almonds


For the marinade, toast fennel, coriander and cardamom seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant (about 4-5 minutes). Using a mortar and pestle, grind spices with a pinch of salt into a fine powder. Remove and reserve.

Pound the coriander and mint leaves with a pinch of salt in a mortar with a pestle until broken down. Add chilli, turmeric, garam masala, the freshly ground spices, lemon juice and yoghurt.

Coat the lamb cutlets in the masala mixture and marinate for about 2 hours.

For the pumpkin-almond curry, warm oil in a large saucepan or wok on a low heat and sauté mustard seeds and cardamom pod for a minute. Add cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add pumpkin, 1 cup water, a pinch of salt, coconut cream, turmeric and almonds. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and sauce has slightly thickened (it should have the consistency of a soup).

In a frying pan, warm 1 tbsp oil over a medium heat. Cook cutlets in batches for about 3 minutes each side. Rest somewhere warm for 5 minutes, then serve with the curry.