Spingtime Lamb Curry

By Riki Shore


Springtime always makes me think of new buds, cherry blossoms, the first shoots of asparagus and lengthening days. Although I like to eat lamb all year round, it seems especially appropriate at this time of new beginnings.

Except for one thing. Here’s where my springtime reverie comes screeching to a halt.

Nearly all the lamb I can buy at the grocery store comes from New Zealand. Where it’s not Spring at all. It’s autumn. Huh?!?

How are we getting lamb all year round from halfway around the world, and it’s still more affordable than grass-fed beef at Whole Foods?

I can’t explain it, but I continue to buy it, mostly because I love the flavor of well-cooked lamb. It’s gamier than beef, and a bit more tender.

One of the most affordable cuts of lamb is a boneless shoulder roast. Two pounds of it will yield a generous pot of lamb curry, enough for 4 – 5 servings. Because it has Russet potatoes in it, this is truly a one-dish dinner. If you’re hankering for a side, try a fresh green salad with mustard vinaigrette or a tangy slaw.

These flavors are inspired by a recipe called Durban Lamb Curry, hailing from the port city in South Africa, which boasts a sizable Indian community.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic

1-inch piece of fresh ginger

1 cinnamon stick

1 dried red chile

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon cardamom

¼ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 cup chicken stock or water

4 medium Russet potatoes

2 tablespoons cilantro

  1. Sprinkle the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the lamb and brown on all sides, until golden, about 10 minutes. (Do this in two batches, if necessary, so as not to crowd the lamb and to ensure even browning.)
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients. Dice the onion, peel and mince the garlic and ginger. Measure all spices and have them ready to go.
  3. When the lamb is nicely browned, place it in a slow cooker.
  4. Reduce the heat on the cast-iron skillet to medium-low. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and all the spices. Cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, 3 – 5 minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes to the skillet and cook 1 minute.
  6. Add the tomato paste and stock or water. Stir and cook another 2 minutes. Scrape everything into the slow cooker on top of the lamb. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low, until the lamb is very tender and easily shredded with a fork.
  7. Peel the potatoes and cut into ½-inch dice. When the lamb is done, remove it to a cutting board and add the potatoes to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 40 – 60 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, shred the lamb with two forks. Once the potatoes are tender, add the lamb back to the slow cooker just long enough to heat through, about 10 minutes.
  9. Serve the lamb curry in shallow bowls with chopped fresh cilantro. If you have some on hand, a dollop of chutney, such as mango or mint, would brighten up this stew beautifully.


Riki Shore blogs at Three Squares where she writes original recipes, conducts interviews, organizes quizzes and takes awesome photos. A professionally trained pastry chef, she’s gluten-intolerant and represents the intersection of gluten-free and Paleo diets. Like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or visit her blog.

Categories: Cooking, Recipes


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  1. says

    Did you know that Ewes are pushed to conceive early and deliver in winter, so that the lambs are ready for December… this means that they often are seriously subjected to the cold of winter. It saddens people to see so many deaths in the snow… no one dares suggest delaying lambing until warmer weather.

  2. Ed says


    Looks like you could use 2 tablespoons of good curry powder, instead of 1 T plus all those other spices. You think that would be almost as good?

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