What is Railway Lamb curry?
Railway lamb curry is an Indian-British hybrid dish named in honor of the lamb curry served to the first-class 19th-century diners who were traveling through India by train. Back when train travel was especially luxurious, cooks prepared hot meals from scratch in train kitchens.
In order to accommodate British travelers with milder palettes, the curry was made milder and incorporated Western ingredients into the dish. Over time it eventually became a big hit amongst train passengers so much now that you can find it in local curry houses.
Instead of using the traditional coconut milk to create a milder gravy, I use lamb stock to create a meatier sauce in this recipe. Now if you don’t have lamb stock hanging around in your kitchen, just do what I do and add stewing lamb (complete with all those lovely bones) to the pot with some extra water and cook for hours. The tough lamb will be tender and will help to create a deliciously savory broth that pairs well with the spices.
What is stewing lamb?
If you are like me and pick up a package of ‘stewing lamb’ at your local grocery store then I bet you are wondering just what kind of meat to expect in it. Stewing lamb should consist of off-cuts of meat that are usually tough to cook and need hours of cooking time to make tender.
These cuts might include neck, bones, and flank which all should be slow-cooked to tenderize. Slow-cooking these cuts of meat not only provides you with tender bits of meat but also beautiful broths that make the most delicious stews such as Scotch broth or spring lamb stew.
If you have the time, I recommend picking up a package or so stewing lamb, and make your own stock. I know a good recipe!
Some like it hot
Traditionally Railway Lamb Curry is made to be milder in spicy heat than other curries. I, however, am the Spicepaw. I like the spice. So when it came to making this dish, I add a little cayenne pepper to give it just the right amount of spicy heat.
If you are cooking for milder palettes, simply omit the chile powder. Also, don’t forget to remove the seeds from the red chile which contains most of that spicy heat. Keep the chile in the curry though as it provides a nice subtle hint of pepper without burning your mouth.
This Railway Lamb Curry is perfect for milder palettes who love a good slow-cooked lamb curry. This spiced-up meat and potatoes dish is meant to impress! #lamb #potatoes #curry #Indianrecipes #slowcooking
~500 g (~18 oz) Stewing lamb
800g to 1 kg (28 -35 oz) Lamb shoulder
2 onions (diced)
4 tbsp ginger (minced)
4 tbsp garlic (minced)
1 red chile (chopped)
4 tbsp butter or ghee
a dash of asafetida
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 green cardamom (crushed)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp black peppercorn
1 bay leaf
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp of ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 large diced tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
480 ml (16 oz or 2 cups) water
2 large potatoes
chopped coriander (optional)
- In a large pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat and add the stewing lamb. Cook until brown then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
- Add a dash of asafoetida, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and 1 bay leaf to the same pan and cook over medium heat until fragrant.
- Add diced onions and cook on medium heat until soft and translucent.
- Add chopped red chile, 2 tbsp of minced garlic, and 2 tbsp of minced ginger. Cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
- Once fragrant, add garam masala, turmeric, and ground coriander and cook for a minute or so.
- Add diced tomatoes, tomato puree, 1 tsp of sea salt, and water. Stir together and bring to a boil.
- Once at a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes of simmering, remove the bay leaf then puree the mixture with a hand blender or by carefully pouring it into a blender.
- Return to the heat and bring to a simmer. Once at a simmer, add the stewing lamb and let cook for 1-2 hours or whenever the lamb becomes tender.
- For those who like their curry with a lot of meat, you can add additional lamb to the curry.
- Cut the lamb shoulder into pieces no smaller than 1 inch (2 cm) small. Toss with 2 tbsp of melted butter, 2 tbsp of minced ginger, 2 tbsp of minced garlic, a light sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper. Place in a preheated oven at 225 C (450 F) or 200 C (400 F) with a fan. Let cook for 10-15 minutes until the lamb is nicely browned.
- Once browned at it to the curry and let simmer in the curry for an hour.
- 30 minutes before the curry is expected to be done, peel and diced potatoes into pieces no bigger than 1 inch (2 cm) big. Add potato pieces to the lamb curry and let cook until soft. Once the lamb is tender and the potatoes are cooked through, the curry is ready to serve!
- Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with fluffy naan or basmati rice.
If you do not have stewing lamb to cook in the curry, just use 480 ml of good lamb stock to cook in the curry instead with the browned lamb shoulder.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Category: Lamb, Main, Curry
- Method: Slow cooking
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: lamb, potatoes, Indian, curry, recipe, spices, lamb stock, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, stewing lamb, railway lamb curry, railway curry, lamb and potato curry