Olive Magazine
A pan of lamb curry with lime wedges on the side

Lamb curry with chana dal

Published: November 26, 2020 at 11:15 am
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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Easy
  • Serves 6-8

This lamb and chana dal curry is a delicious one-pot dish that really requires no special sides, except for some rice or bread, a little salad, and a bit of creamy yogurt

  • Gluten free
low inkcal455

Try this Recipe lamb curry recipe then check out our Rajasthani curry, slow-cooker chicken curry and more Indian curry recipes. Recipe author Nik Sharma says: "Regardless of the [Christmas] holiday, lamb is a celebratory meat in my family and served with a large platter of long-grain basmati rice emboldened with the fragrance of spices... I serve it each year during the cooler holiday season because of the comforting warmth this curry carries."

Nik Sharma is a photographer, author and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. His first book Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food (£25, Chronicle Books) is out now. Find him on Instagram @abrowntable and his blog at abrowntable.com.


  • 200g chana dal (split chickpeas)
  • 4 large onions, 1 roughly chopped, 3 thinly sliced
  • cloves chopped to make 2 tbsp garlic
  • chopped to make 2 tbsp ginger
  • 4 tbsp ghee, clarified butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1kg boneless lamb leg, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 4 cloves, crushed
  • ground to make ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 lime, juiced to make 2 tbsp
  • roughly chopped to make 2 tbsp coriander leaves


  • STEP 1

    Soak the chana dal in plenty of cold water for 1 hour.

  • STEP 2

    Whizz the roughly chopped onion in a blender or small food processor with the garlic, ginger and 125ml of water until completely smooth.

  • STEP 3

    Heat the ghee or oil in a pan or casserole over a medium-high heat. Once hot, fry the sliced onions for 25-30 minutes or until they turn dark brown. Scoop out the onions to a platter lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess fat.

  • STEP 4

    Pat the lamb pieces dry with kitchen paper, season with a little salt, then fry them, in batches, in the left-over fat over a medium- high heat for 4-5 minutes, searing until well browned. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the lamb out onto a plate.

  • STEP 5

    Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onion purée for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground coriander, garam masala, cloves, peppercorns and cayenne, and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until the fat starts to separate and a thick paste forms. Drain the dal and add them to the pan, followed by the browned meat and any juices. Add 500ml of water, raise the heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer, cover with a heavy lid and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the browned onions, cover and cook for another 30 minutes. The meat should be meltingly tender – if not, give it another 20-30 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, flatbreads or naans and a little yogurt.

*This recipe is gluten free according to industry standards

Head here for more lamb curry recipes

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