Lamb with Green Chili Masala

Preparing for a long trip can be a lot of work, but I try and make the most of it. You might say I’m a bit of a pack-rat, especially in the kitchen, and a trip is a great excuse to finish off those lingering bags of legumes in the back of the cupboard. I also try to stop shopping for fresh ingredients a few weeks before taking off and delve into the darker reaches of the freezer in search of hidden treasures.

After eating my way through some pork belly and a whole chicken I’d stashed away in the bottom drawer of the freezer, I uncovered a huge lamb shoulder that Lava Lake Lamb had sent me back in December. I was thrilled at the find, but a little worried about whether I’d be able to use it all before the trip.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with them, Lava Lake Lamb has a huge ranch in Idaho where they raise some of the best grass-fed lamb you can find in the US. It’s tender, well marbled, and doesn’t have the gamey funk that turns many people off lamb. I ended up roasting half the shoulder and cut the other half up into cubes, which I used to make this curry.

It looks a bit like the lamb green chili I made last year, but the flavors are very different. It’s more curry than chili, but the chili peppers are still the heart of the dish. Along with the cumin, mustard and fenugreek, the jalapenos give this stew a piquant flavor that’s made it one of my favorite curries.

If you don’t happen to have any lamb on hand, chicken thighs would also work as well. I served this with some saffron basmati with raisins, but it would be delicious with some freshly baked naan.

Lamb with Green Chili Masala

makes 5-6 servings

2 pounds of lamb shoulder cut into 1.5″ cubes
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt (halve if using regular salt)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon garlic, grated
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
3 onions sliced thin

6-10 jalapenos seeded and cut lengthwise into quarters
1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
cilantro for garnish

Combine the cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl and sprinkle all of it onto the lamb pieces, tossing around to coat evenly. Heat heavy pot with a lid over medium high heat until it is very hot. Add the oil and brown the meat meat on both sides. Work in small batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. You want to get a nice dark brown crust on the outside of the meat as this contributes to the flavor of the sauce. Transfer the browned meat to a plate and set aside.

Add a little more oil if the pan needs it, then add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds to the pot, stirring for about 30 seconds to lightly toast them. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute or so while stirring continuously to prevent burning. Add the onions, then turn down the heat to medium low and cover with a lid for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, and stir vigorously to loosen the bits of flavor from the bottom of the pan. Let most of the accumulated liquid evaporate, then return the lamb to the pot along with any juices. Stir to combine, then cover with a lid and cook over medium low heat for 1 1/2 hours.

Add the jalapenos and tamarind concentrate. Since the capsaicin (the compound that makes chili peppers spicy) is in the light color membranes the seeds are attached to, leaving some of the membranes will make your masala more spicy. partially cover to allow steam to escape, then cook until the lamb is very tender and the sauce is very thick (about 1 to 1.5 more hours).

Serve with rice and some chopped cilantro to garnish.

  • Maureen

    This looks so delicious.  I love lamb and this is a new way to serve it for me.  I’ll give it a try !  Hope I can do it nearly as well as you did.

  • Prerna@IndianSimmer

    Ok, I bow to you my friend! You are a genius :-)
    LOVE it!

  • Darren Tran

    I am always jealous of your pictures lol

  • Maris Callahan

    What a delicious dish! Gorgeous photos!

  • Kankana

    This looks so delicious and those lambs so moist with all the juice .. loving it :)

  • tasteofbeirut

    Despite the +100F temperatures over here, I would love to savor this succulent lamb and have noted the source. 

  • Bren @ Flanboyant Eats

    you’ll make me some next time I’m in NY, right?!?! I love how you just happened to find it stashed away! 

  • Kulsum

    This is just what I wanted to see today to make me more hungry. Fabulous

  • Jackie

    Mhm, Marc this looks awesome! I love lamb curries but it’s not really the season for it over here! Autumn is just around the corner, though…

    Jax x

  • Ana Helena Campbell

    Marc! First time in your blog and loved it! I watched chopped tonight and really think you did a great job. Your dishes are beautiful and I am so glad I found you. Love your photos too. You food is Excellent!

  • Rhonda

    Marc, I’ve been out of touch for awhile…imagine my surprise when I just watched Chopped and saw you! I was so impressed! You are a fabulous chef and you have a great TV person.

  • Tasteslikehome

    Ummmm, I can smell how fragrant the lamb is.

  • patomaru

    Marc, in this recipe you keep mentioning sauce and liquid, but I don’t see where this liquid comes from.  I tried making it but after the first 1.5 hours of cooking on low heat I just had a lot of burnt garlic and ginger bits and no accumulated liquid.  Was water supposed to be added in there somewhere or did I need to use a less lean cut of meat?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you. You shouldn’t need to add water,
      but if it starts burning you should add water. The liquid comes from the
      onions and meat. Since the strength of the flame on different stoves
      changes, you may need to lower the heat a bit. Also be sure to use a pot
      with a tight fitting lid (such as a dutch oven) so you don’t lose all the
      moisture as steam.

      • patomaru

        Well it turned out great.  I was using goat stew meat which it seems is
        much leaner than lamb so I wasn’t getting any juice from it and things
        just seemed to char in the first hour, but then with a tamarind I added
        about a cup of water and that finally gave it some liquid to stew in and
        the final product was delicious.  One of the best (and pretty easy too)
        curries I have ever made.  Thank you.

  • Bevweidner

    I am about to die this looks so good.

    Like, I lost my balance in life there for a second.


  • Smriti D. Isaac

    Very nice, Marc, although one comment on cooking technique:  after the initial frying and stirring, if you cook this in a quality pressure-cooker, you may cover the pressure cooker lid and simmer for 45 mins as opposed to cooking it for four hours.  The steam in the pressure cooker is contained within and there is no chance of escape, which will result in the most succulent pieces of lamb soaked up in all that good masala. 

    Incidentally, I am of Indian origin and have dozens of variations on the masalas to make lamb.  Another reason why a pressure cooker is the ideal cooking container is b/c the bones are rendered soft and the juices from make the gravy/curry are made even more delectable.  Again, bravo on a great dish, and best wishes for continued success!

  • Tay Mor

    this looks amazing!! I’m definitely going to try this out! *drool* And I’m a curry girl too!!


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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