Punjabi lamb curry

Author: Marthinus Strydom
Category: Curry
Serves/Qty: 6
Marthinus Strydom

A steaming bowlful of tariwala gosht with tandoori roti served on a rickety table at a no frills dhabba (roadside home cooked stalls) near Ambala is the essence of India and Pakistan.

The Story

Tariwala gosht is very much part of everyday Indian home cooking too and a basic curry that most households make. This can be made with chicken, mutton or lamb. Legend has it that Punjabi Tariwala curry is the grandma of all curries. This is purported to be the oldest curry recipe in the world. The flavours, the vibrant colour of the dish, served with tandoori roti or naan is a thing of beauty.

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Adjust Quanities

4 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
4 red onions finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh ginger minced
2 tbsp fresh garlic minced
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp turmeric
1½ tsp chilli powder
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 kg lamb knuckles or cubed lamb
1 liter hot water from the kettle
5 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tsp garam masala


  1. Heat the oil on a medium/high heat in a large saucepan. Sear the lamb in batches until brown. Remove and set aside.
  2. Add the cumin seeds to the oil and let them sizzle, when you smell the sweet aroma of cumin add the onions and salt. Cook the onions for 8-10 minutes until they're caramelised and a deep shade of brown.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes stirring continuously as the fibrous ginger trends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and follow with cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder and turmeric then cook for around 1 minute. You need to let the spices cook and start releasing their oils.  Make sure you stir all the time to ensure the spices don't burn.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase the flame to medium then add 250ml of hot water and reduce the mixture again, this should take 4-5 minutes, it will really helps develop the flavours in your gravy.
  5. Add the lamb and stir with the fragrant masala. Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring continuously.
  6. Add 750ml of hot water from the kettle and stir throughly scraping down the sides for any caramelised masala residue. Put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer for 30-35 minutes stirring every 3-4 minutes.
  7. Once the lamb has cooked, if you prefer to have a runnier sauce add more water from the kettle and cook for 2-3 minutes. If the sauce is not thick enough you can either reduce more by leaving it to cook for another few minutes, or you can add a slurry (1 tablespoon cornflour desolved in a 2 tablespoons of cold water)
  8. Stir in the coriander and garam masala. Serve with pilau rice, naan or roti.