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Lamb karahi is a fabulous dish. It’s a curry made with lamb, tomatoes, and spices. Whilst it is relatively easy to make, it’s always a hit with spice fans. The key to making a good curry is to use fresh ingredients and to carefully balance the flavours. Look no further for a recipe that is tasty, warming and hearty!
What is it?
Karahi is an unbelievably delicious curry, yet it’s one of the simplest you’ll ever make. It requires only a handful of ingredients and just 3 mainstream spices, yet it lacks nothing in flavour. The curry is made with a tomato base and uses green chillis to add heat. While this recipe uses lamb, the dish is also commonly made with chicken, mutton or beef.
Karahi is actually named after the cooking pot which is used to make the curry. A karahi (aka a kadai) is a large pot traditionally made with wrought iron. As they are deep they are used for frying, or for simmering away a stew. The cooking utensil is widely used across in India and Pakistan, while this recipe is traced to Northern India and Pakistan. In India, you’ll typically find red peppers and onion included, whereas I’m following the more traditional Pakistani recipe which does not include them.
Of course, for authenticity, if you can get your hands on a karahi then use one. However, you can certainly use a standard pan to cook this recipe.
Is karahi hot?
Lamb karahi is typically served with medium to high heat. Although it’s not in the leagues of a vindaloo. Of course, when you are making it at home you can control the spice as per your personal tastes. If you cook this recipe ‘as is’ then the result is medium. If you want to make it spicier then you can use hot chilli powder rather than medium. You could also use more chillis or chop the chilli rather than simply cutting a slit into it as we do for this recipe.
Conversely, if you want to make it milder then you could use a mild chilli powder, or even substitute smoked paprika. You can also use a weaker variety of chilli (larger chillis are typically milder than smaller ones).
What kind of lamb should I use?
I like to make this with bone-in cuts of lamb. Shoulder or leg pieces work well.
If you want to use bone-in pieces, then depending on where you live you may need to visit a butcher rather than your local supermarket. However, you can certainly use boneless chunks of lamb too.
You don’t need to trim any fat from the meat, as it will render down while cooking and it adds a lot of flavour to the curry.
Can I make it in a slow cooker?
As this dish requires long and slow cooking, it’s a perfect contender for slow cooker cooking. If you decide to use a slow cooker, then follow the instructions up to and including adding the spices to the pan. Then transfer everything to your slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
What can I serve it with?
As with all great curries, a side of basmati or pilau rice is always a good idea. As is a soft buttery naan or chapati.
This curry is fairly hot so whipping up some cooling cucumber and mint raita to dollop on top is a good shout. A simple side of sliced tomatoes and onion goes particularly well too. You could also add some extra side dishes for variety such as this chicken pakora or these masala chips.
Can I make it in advance?
This curry is great for batch cooking, as it can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months, without any discernible effect on the taste or texture. In fact, the flavour is slightly intensified after a day or so.
The curry can be reheated in the microwave or on the hob/stove. You can add a splash of water if it’s looking a little dry in texture. If freezing, then defrost it thoroughly before reheating.
For a full list of ingredients with weights and measurements jump to the printable recipe card.
- Vegetable oil
- Lamb chunks – ideally with bone-in (although boneless also works)
- Garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- Ginger paste
- Coriander powder
- Medium red chilli powder
- Green chillis, a slit cut into the side
- Tomatoes, diced
- Finely chopped coriander, to garnish
How to make it
For more detailed recipe steps with tips jump to the printable recipe card.
- Heat the oil in a large pan or karahi pot.
- Once hot add the lamb and brown on all sides.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further minute.
- Add the cumin, coriander and chilli powder along with the chillis and cook for a further minute.
- Mix the tomatoes into the pan and season well. Add the water and bring to a low simmer.
- Cover the dish with a pan and cook for 2 hours.
Looking for more great curry recipes? Try:
Products that work well for this recipe:
Magnetic Spice Rack – Set of 12
2 in 1 Garlic Press
Indian Karahi Curry Bowls
Lamb karahi is a fabulous curry that is sure to be a hit with any spice fan! It’s a flavoursome and hearty dish, yet is very simple to make!
The default recipe serves 4
- 85ml / 1/3rd cup vegetable oil
- 800g / 1.75lb lamb chunks, bone-in (see note 1)
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp medium red chilli powder (see note 2)
- 2 whole green chillis, with a slit cut into the side of each (see note 2)
- 800g / 1.75lb tomatoes, diced
- 250ml / 1 cups water
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
- Heat the oil in a large pan or karahi over medium-high heat.
- Add the lamb and cook until sealed all over.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute.
- Tip the cumin, coriander and chilli powder into the pan along with the green chillis and stir everything together and cook for another minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and mix everything together. Season well and add the water before reducing to a low simmer.
- Add a lid to the pan and cook for 2 hours to allow the flavours to infuse and the lamb to become fall-apart tender.
- I buy bone-in lamb leg pieces from a butcher to make this, however, you can use other cuts such as shoulder, and you can make it with boneless pieces if preferred. If you use boneless meat then reduce the amount to around 4-500g (approx. 1 lb)
- This curry is fairly hot. If you prefer it milder then use mild curry powder (or even smoked paprika) and use milder large chillis (or leave them out). If you want it very spicy then use hot curry powder and dice the chillis finely before adding.
- You can also cook this in the slow cooker. Follow the steps up until adding the tomatoes (up to and including step 4) and then tip everything into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4.
- Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly before reheating on the hob/stove or in the microwave. Add a splash of water if the dish is looking a little dry.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2.5 hours
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Hob / Stove
- Cuisine: Pakistani
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 338
- Fat: 23g
- Carbohydrates: 9g
- Protein: 24g
Keywords: curry, pakistani, dinner, lamb, spicy, hot, chilli