Railway lamb curry is a lot like a traditional British stew.
The original curry was served in the first class cars of the Indian railways and stems back to the British Raj.
The story goes that a British officer ordered a curry, found it to be too spicy and asked for the curry to be milder. The chef added some yoghurt and coconut milk to the sauce to cool it down and the officer loved it.
Over time, railway lamb curry became much milder with only a little chilli powder added. You could always add more to taste.
Most of our curry house style curries were developed here in the UK for the British palate. This famous curry was developed for the British as well but most definitely has its origin in India.
When I cook railway lamb curry at home, I do it slightly differently to this method. I simmer the meat (usually a lot more of it) separately for about an hour until tender.
Then I add the amount of cooked meat required and some of the cooking stock to the curry to finish. I do this because I cook a lot of lamb curries so it is great to have pre-cooked meat and stock available for when I need it.
Both the stock and cooked meat freeze really well.
The cooked meat and stock can then be used in lamb curries from mild to fiery hot.
By the way, rice is delicious with this curry but I like naans even better. Dip those naans into the hot railway lamb curry and you will be in curry heaven. Here’s my curry house style stovetop naan recipe.
- 1 kilo (2 lbs) lamb or mutton shoulder or leg cut into bite sized pieces on the bone
- 5 tbsp (1/4 cup) mustard oil
- 5 cardamom pods – bruised
- 3 dried Kashmiri chillies
- 4 cloves
- 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
- 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
- 2 medium red onions – finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste
- ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 300g chopped tomatoes
- 3 green chillies – finely chopped
- 3 potatoes – peeled and quartered
- 1 generous tsp tamarind concentrate
- 200ml thick coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- Salt to taste
- Heat the mustard oil in a large saucepan. When visibly hot, add the cardamom pods, Kashmiri chillies, cloves and cinnamon stick and let these whole spices infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds.
- Add the curry leaves and let them fry with the spices for another 30 seconds before adding the chopped onions.
- Fry the onions for about five minutes until soft and translucent and the stir in the garlic and ginger paste and continue frying for a further 30 seconds.
- Now add the ground spices and chopped tomatoes, stir well and add the chopped chillies. This is your base for the curry.
- Stir in the cubed meat and add just enough water to cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until fork tender.
- When your meat is almost cooked to perfection, add the potatoes to the simmering meat and cook them with the meat until they are tender.
- This curry can be either really soupy or thick, depending on what you prefer. So reduce the stock down until you are happy.
- Stir in the tamarind concentrate and coconut milk. You’re almost done now.
- To finish, add the kasoori methi by rubbing it between your fingers into the sauce. Season with salt to taste and garnish with some chopped coriander if you like.