Neil Perry's simple spiced lamb curry

Neil Perry
This simple curry is very adaptable.
This simple curry is very adaptable. Photo: William Meppem

This is a lovely curry, with lots of flavour coming from the onions and the spice mix. If you want to make it even easier, you can substitute the spices in the sauce for a garam masala or a curry spice mix.


900g boned lamb shoulder, cut into 4cm cubes

For the marinade

6 tbsp plain yoghurt

1 small knob fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ tsp turmeric

For the sauce

1 cinnamon stick

8 whole cloves

½ tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp whole coriander seeds

1 tsp hot chilli powder

6 tbsp vegetable oil

3 medium onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small knob fresh ginger, grated

4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, finely chopped, including skins and seeds

1¼ tsp salt


1. Put the lamb in a bowl with all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight, if you are organised).

2. Place a small cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, toast the cinnamon stick until fragrant, then transfer to a bowl. Next, toast the whole cloves, cumin seeds and coriander seeds in the pan until they darken and become fragrant. Place all the toasted spices and chilli powder in a spice grinder and grind finely.

3. Heat the vegetable oil to medium heat in a heavy pan big enough to fit all the lamb. Add the onion and fry until light brown. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring, then incorporate the ground spice. Add half a cup of water and cook over medium to low heat, stirring for five minutes.

4. Add the lamb, raise the heat to medium-high and fry with the spice paste for about eight minutes. Add the tomato and cook for another five minutes, then add salt and one cup of water, and bring to the boil.

5. Lower the heat to a very gentle simmer. After about 1-1½ hours, the lamb should be very tender. You can remove the fat if you wish before serving, but I think that takes some of the flavour away.

6. Serve with steamed rice and steamed greens such as water spinach. Garnish with coriander.