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Lamb Coconut Curry

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Like coconut and lamb? This is a lamb coconut curry you’ve simply got to try!

I love southern India. It’s a beautiful place and the food is out of this world. This lamb coconut curry recipe is one I always have to order at least once while there. Traditionally, the recipe is made with mutton but lamb works just fine and it’s a lot easier to come by where I live.

Coconut Lamb Curry

About this coconut lamb curry.

I was a bit sceptical the first time I tried this dish. I love coconut but the recipe calls for small chunks of coconut in the sauce and I wasn’t sure if it could possibly compare to the other lamb coconut curry dishes I’d tried using just coconut milk for the coconut flavour.

I need not have worried! The small pieces of coconut not only add flavour but also a texture to the curry that is to die for. After trying it in Kerala, I decided I had to make it for myself when I got home and that is what you have here.

I have since made this lamb coconut curry many times for friends and family and it always goes down a treat. In fact, no matter how much I make, it always seems to go! Not a bit of sauce left ever! It’s really that good.

What’s so good about the recipe?

You will love all the different textures in addition to the amazing flavour the ingredients produce when simmered low and slow together.  You’ve got the tender lamb which together with the crunchy coconut pieces makes the perfect combo. It’s so unique, at least in the west where lamb curries are often quite similar.

It’s worth noting that this lamb coconut curry is also very popular with chicken. In fact, it takes less time to cook when using chicken instead of lamb so you might want to try that too.

If you want to try a curry that is delicious in every way, you’ve got to try this infamous dish that is originally from the town of Erode in Tamil Nadu.

Is this lamb coconut curry spicy?

Some might think so. There are, after all 20 dried Kashmiri chillies and 4 green chillies used to spice up the sauce along with a good dose of black pepper. 

If you are at all concerned about the spiciness, use fewer chillies. You want to make this lamb coconut curry so that it is perfect for your spice preferences.

Make this recipe your own.

I had a good play with the lamb coconut curry to adjust the spices to my own preference. I think I’ve done a pretty good job but everyone has their own personal tastes. Especially when it comes to a good curry.

So feel free to do the same. Many people, myself included like this curry even spicier. That too is in your hands. If you like a nice spicy curry, this is a good one as there is so much flavour in the sauce, it can take the heat without the chillies overpowering the dish.

A word about the coconut.

I know that biting into small chunks of coconut is not going to be to everyone’s liking. I think the coconut is so good cooked this way but you might like to adjust how it is cut.

Feel free to cut it into even smaller pieces or even grate it. 

Just do not use dried grated coconut. You’ll ruin your lamb coconut curry and blame me. You want to use the freshest coconut you can get your hands on for this dish. 

What do you look for in a fresh coconut?

In the UK and many other places for that matter, where coconuts are imported and not grown, it is essential that you know how to find a fresh coconut. Nothing compares to the fresh coconuts you can purchase in warmer climates but you can find good coconuts at most supermarkets along with a few that aren’t very good.

When you pick up a coconut at the shop, it should feel heavy. If you shake it, you should be able to hear lots of coconut water inside. If it feels like the water has all dried up, put it back for someone else to purchase.

How long can you store this lamb coconut curry in the fridge?

You can keep this curry wrapped tightly in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. In fact, as it rests in the fridge, the flavours will develop and it will be even better.

So if you are having friends around for a curry feast, you could make this lamb coconut curry a few days in advance and it will be even better when you serve it. 

To reheat it, just pour it all into a saucepan and heat it up over a medium-high heat until hot.

Can you freeze this curry?

Although you could, you will lose the texture and flavour that only the freshest coconuts will bring to this dish. 

If you do decide to freeze it, be sure to freeze the curry in portion sizes that are convenient for you. Then just allow the curry to defrost completely and heat it up in a saucepan or in your microwave until hot.

Which chunks of lamb work best?

Many people do not like curries with meat cooked on the bone. If that is you, go ahead and purchase lamb leg or shoulder meat and cut it into bite sized cubes.

For the best flavour, you should purchase lamb leg or shoulder cut into bite sized pieces on the bone. This is how lamb is usually sold at many Indian grocers and it is worth sourcing. A good butcher should be able to cut the meat like this for you too.

Step by step photographs.

Ingredients for the curry.

Get all your ingredients together and prepared before you start cooking. It will make the job easier.

Chopped coconut ready to add to the curry.

Cut the coconut pieces into small chunks or grate it if you prefer smaller pieces.

For more detailed instructions on how to crack open a coconut, click here.

Browning the meat in a pan.

Heat about 2 tbsp coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the meat to brown it for about 5 minutes.

Simmering the meat to tenderise it.

Add enough water to cover the meat and bring to a simmer. Then cover the pan and continue simmering for about 40 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Infusing the mustard seeds and curry leaves into the oil.

While the meat is simmering, you can start preparing the curry. Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to crackle, stir in the curry leaves.

Frying the onion until soft and translucent.

Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minuted or until soft and translucent.

Adding the garlic and ginger paste to the pan.

Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a further minute, stirring it into the onions as you do.

Adding the ground spices and rehydrated, dried chillies to the pan.

Stir in the turmeric and black pepper followed by the red chillies and stir into the other ingredients.

Adding the coconut pieces and chopped tomatoes.

Then add the coconut pieces and chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

The cooked meat on a plate, ready to be added to the curry.

When the meat is super tender, transfer it to a plate and set aside. Bring the remaining stock to the boil and reduce by two thirds.

Adding the cooked meat and reduced stock to the curry pan.

Once the stock has reduced down, add it to the curry along with the cooked meat.

Simmering the sauce to thicken it.

Continue simmering to thicken the sauce to your liking. This is a dry curry but you could leave more sauce in if you prefer.


The finished lamb coconut curry.

This is so good. Remember you don’t have to cook the stock down so much. Traditionally, this is a dry curry.

Lamb coconut curry.

Dig in and enjoy!

Like the look of this lamb curry? You might also like to try some of these…

Lamb Rista Curry
7 Ingredient Lamb Curry
Railway Lamb Curry
Lamb Keema Shimla Mirch

Yield: 4 - 6

Lamb Coconut Curry

Lamb Coconut Curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) lamb or mutton leg chopped to small size
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 20 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 red onions - finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 15 cherry tomatoes - quartered
  • 1/2 coconut - meat removed and finely chopped
  • 20 dried Kashmiri chillies - broken in half and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place the lamb in a pressure cooker and cook until tender. Mine only took 20 minutes and I covered the meat with about one litre of water.
  2. Heat the oils in a large wok or saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the curry leaves and fry until fragrant. This takes about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, soft and lightly browned. Then add the garlic and ginger paste and stir it all up together.
  4. Stir in the turmeric and black pepper followed by the red chillies, coconut pieces and tomatoes. Mix it all up and top with the cooking stock from the stewed lamb.
  5. Reduce the stock by two thirds and then stir in the cooked meat. This is quite a dry curry.
  6. To serve, season with salt to taste and sprinkle the garam masala over the top.

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I hope you enjoy this lamb coconut curry recipe. If you do try it, please don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Lamb curry

You’ve simply got to try this lamb coconut curry!


Sunday 12th of November 2023

Hi I presume this a hot curry with so many Kashmiri chilli’s?

Dan Toombs

Monday 13th of November 2023

It’s actually not that hot as dried red chillies don’t have a great deal of heat. Thanks Dan


Thursday 4th of January 2018

I must get round to buying a pressure cooker - until then, I always marinate my lamb in spices and plain yogurt overnight to tenderise the meat - not quick, but very easy - and just sharing that tip if anybody else is reading this and doesn't have a pressure cooker :-)

This looks like a great recipe, and will try it out this weekend when I get home. Thanks again Dan, and Nesan Happy New Year! :-)

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 9th of January 2018

Thank you Paul. I rarely cook this with a pressure cooker. A simple pan will do just fine.

Cheers, Dan


Sunday 19th of February 2017

Your Lamb Pallipallayam looks absolutely delicious and is "the real deal".... This is one special curry I would encorage all of Dan's fans to try out... It's these authentic and unique regional curries that he prepares that makes his cooking a "cut above the rest".

Dan Toombs

Monday 20th of February 2017

Thank you very much for that Nesan. And for sending me the recipe! Love it.

Cheers, Dan

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