Fiery laal maas lamb

Fiery laal maas lamb

This is a truly royal dish having once been a favourite of the maharajas and princes of India. A recipe packed with fiery chillies and garlic, you can expect plenty of heat, although I tone that down a bit by de-seeding the chillies, which are removed before serving and only used for flavour.

Serves 6

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  • 8¾ ounces / 250g natural yoghurt
  • 1¼ ounces / 35g fresh root ginger
  • 1¾ ounces / 50g chilli paste
  • 1 lb 2 ounces / 500g diced lamb
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 4 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
  • 2 onions
  • 5 red chillies
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 teaspoons of coriander seeds
  • 3½ ounces / 100g tomato purée
  • 1 ounce / 28g pack of coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • water


Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan and then grind them. Then toast the cloves, but reserve until they are ready to be used.

Finely grate the root ginger. Put it in a bowl with the yogurt and chilli paste and mix well.

Put the lamb in another bowl and season with some salt.

Crush half the garlic.

Add half of the yogurt, chilli paste and ginger mixture to the lamb, and the crushed garlic and all the ground cumin,  and combine well to coat all the chunks. Leave it to marinate overnight, preferably, or for at least 30 minutes. If leaving overnight, remember to cover the rest of the yoghurt mix with clingfilm and put in the fridge until the next day.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan on a medium heat.

De-seed the chillies. Peel and quarter the onions. Crush the remaining garlic.

Blitz the onions and chillies separately in a food processor.

Add the blitzed onions to the pan and fry for 10-15 minutes until starting to brown.

Add the blitzed chillies to the pan along with the crushed garlic.

Fry for another minute or so.

Add the lamb to the pan, stir well, and cook for 8-10 minutes until sealed on all sides.

Meanwhile, grind the toasted cloves.

Once the lamb is sealed on all sides, add the ground cloves, the coriander, the bay leaves, and the rest of the reserved yoghurt mixture.

Cook for a further 8-10 minutes.

Then add around 10 fluid ounces / 300ml of boiling water to the pan, or enough to just cover the lamb.

Bring to the boil, then simmer briskly for 20-25 minutes until the lamb is cooked through.

Tip the contents of the pan into a colander and strain into a bowl.

Return the lamb to the pan along with the strained liquid in the bowl. Discard the vegetables, spices, and bay leaves.

Add the tomato purée to the pan.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes until slightly thickened. Spoon off excessive fat if you want.

Reserve a few of the coriander leaves for garnishing and stir the bulk of the leaves and stalks into the pan.

Then serve with the reserved coriander scattered over the top.


You can use shoulder of lamb or neck fillet. Alternatively, try diced chicken or beef. If using beef, cook for longer at each stage. You can serve this with rice pilaf and roti (chapatti).


Laal maas (literally “red mutton” in the Hindi) is a traditional curry from the Rajasthan region of India. Traditionally, the dish is very hot and heavy on the garlic. The sauce can be thick or runny, according to preference. It is usually eaten with wheat chapatti or bajra (a millet grown in the region). The fiery nature of this recipe originated in the time when this dish – a favourite of Indian royalty – was made using hunted wild game such as boar or deer. The chillies disguised the strong gamey flavour of the meat, and have survived the crossover to the more tender lamb used today.

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