On days when I want to make something special and indulgent, this is my go-to: lamb Chettinad. This rich, spicy gravy with tender chunks of lamb goes great with rice or naan.
Here are some things you’ll need for this lamb Chettinad recipe:
What is lamb Chettinad
Lamb Chettinad is a dish that originates from the Chettinadu region of South India. The cuisine of this region is well known for being aromatic, flavorful, and spicy. Chettinad cuisine typically makes use of a variety of spices such as cumin and fennel seeds, peppercorns, and dried chilies.
As a child, whenever my parents brought me to a restaurant that serves Chettinad cuisine, I knew I was in for a treat! I would always go with the expectation of enjoying spicy, mouth-watering South Indian curries and side dishes, and I was never disappointed.
Making this South Indian lamb curry recipe at home is my way of reconnecting with those sweet childhood memories. The lamb Chettinad taste is fiery, rich, and super comforting.
It has a thick gravy that pairs well with rice, or even naan, if you prefer.
Lamb Chettinad Ingredients
Here are some of the key ingredients you’ll need to make this Chettinad dish:
For this recipe, you’ll need 500g (17.5oz) of lamb that’s cut into 1-inch cubes. You can substitute this for mutton if you prefer.
I opt for bone-in lamb as the bone imparts flavor to the curry, but you can also use boneless lamb. Before cooking, I marinate the lamb with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, and turmeric for 1 hour.
Here’s how to make ginger-garlic paste at home.
For this recipe, I dry roast a handful of different spices to enhance their aroma and flavor before grinding them up to make a Chettinad spice mix.
These spices include:
Of course, you can’t make a proper South Indian curry without curry leaves!
How to make Chettinad lamb curry
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make lamb Chettinad at home:
1. Marinate the lamb.
In a bowl, combine lamb and the other ingredients for the marinade. Mix well and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
2. Prepare the Chettinad spice mix.
Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice mix. To do this, heat a frying pan and, without adding oil, toast all the spices together until fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool.
Once the spices are cool, put them in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside for later.
3. Get started on the curry.
Heat oil in a non-stick pot on medium-high before adding chopped onions, chili, and curry leaves. Sauté until onions brown, around 8 to 10 minutes. Add ¼ tsp salt to help the onions brown faster.
On medium-low heat, add tomatoes. Once the tomatoes soften, add the marinated lamb cubes and the freshly ground spice mix. Mix well and cook for 3 – 4 minutes.
Then, add water and 1½ tsp salt. On high heat, bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow the curry to simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After that, continue to cook uncovered for 15 minutes to thicken the curry.
4. Finally, garnish and serve the Chettinad lamb curry.
Taste the curry and add more salt if needed before garnishing with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rice or naan.
How to serve lamb Chettinad
As a South Indian, I love rice! My favorite way of devouring his dish is with a plate of rice and lots of chopped cilantro on top.
This curry is quite spicy, so you can serve some cool raita on the side to counteract the heat. When it comes to raita, the options are endless! My favorites include a simple cucumber onion raita that you can whip up in under 5 minutes and vibrant beetroot raita.
Prefer something crunchy on the side? You can opt for these crispy air fryer bhindi instead.
If you’re not a diehard rice fan like me, you can also pair this curry with some naan bread.
Pro tips for making lamb Chettinad
- Dry roast your spices over medium flame. Avoid turning the heat up as the spices could burn. Stir continuously until the spices are aromatic.
- Use bone-in lamb. The bones impart flavor to your curry, making it even more delicious.
- For the last 15 minutes, cook your curry uncovered. This help to thicken the gravy, resulting in a thick, luscious curry sauce.
- Halve the number of dried chilies for a milder curry. This curry is spicy! The combination of peppercorns, dried chilies, and fresh green chilies results in a satisfyingly fiery dish. If you prefer a milder curry, halve the number of dried chilies in your spice mix.
- Serve with something cool on the side. Since this is a spicy curry, serving it with something cool helps to counteract the heat. This could be a dollop of yogurt on the side, a simple raita, or even a cool beverage like lassi.
How to store leftovers
For me, the best part about making a curry is enjoying the leftovers! Curries usually taste even better the next day because the flavors have had more time to mingle.
You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 – 3 days.
When you want to consume the leftovers, avoid reheating in the microwave. This tends to make the lamb tough. Instead, reheat on the stovetop on low heat until heated through.
Other curry recipes you can try
Frequently Asked Questions
Is lamb chettinad spicy?
Yes. Chettinad food is usually pretty spicy. You can serve it with cool raita on the side to tone down the heat. Alternatively, you can make the curry milder by using fewer dried chilies in the Chettinad spice mix.
What is lamb curry made of?
Lamb curry is made differently in different regions of the world. Usually, it starts off with a base of aromatics such as onions, ginger, garlic and chilies. Lamb and various spices are added to this base, and cooked on low heat until the lamb is tender.
Which lamb meat is good for curry?
Bone-in lamb chunks are great for curry as the bones impart flavor to the curry, making it really delicious. You can use boneless lamb if you prefer, but substitute part of the water used in the recipe with chicken stock to make up for the loss of flavor.
How do you make lamb curry tender?
Marinate the lamb with yogurt. Yogurt is a great marinade for meat, as it helps break down the protein in the meat and tenderize it. Marinate for an hour or even overnight in the fridge before cooking to allow the yogurt to tenderize the lamb and impart its flavor.
Is lamb healthy to eat?
In addition to being protein-rich, lamb is also loaded with vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. However, it is a type of red meat, and high consumption of red meat is said to increase one’s risk of illnesses such as heart disease.
Ultimately, it’s best to follow the age old mantra – everything in moderation.
How do I thicken lamb curry?
Let the curry simmer uncovered for a few minutes. By doing this, any excess water evaporates and the steam escapes, resulting in a thicker curry. This way, you don’t need to add thickeners such as cornflour or tomato puree that could alter or dilute the flavor of your curry.
Why is my lamb curry tough?
This could be because the lamb wasn’t marinated before cooking. Lamb is generally a tough meat, so its need some tenderizing before you cook it. Marinating the lamb with yogurt for a few hours in the fridge helps with this.
What is the secret to a good curry?
To cook a good curry, keep four important things in mind: brown your onions well, use fresh spices, season well, and use bone-in meat to impart more flavor.
Spices lose their aroma and flavor over time, resulting in an underwhelming curry. Here’s how to store spices long term to keep them flavorful and aromatic for as long as possible.
What gives curry depth of flavor?
A curry derives its depth of flavor from nicely browned onions, aromatic spices, and the bones. Using bone-in meat imparts a lot of flavor to the curry. When using boneless meat, substitute water with chicken stock to make up for this loss of flavor.
What spices to add to a curry?
Different cultures use different spices to make curry. Even within India, different regions tend to have their own unique blend of spices. Typically, spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, coriander, and turmeric are added to meat-based curries.
Why does my curry have no flavor?
A bland curry could be due to several factors: the onions (that form the base of the curry) aren’t browned or caramelized well, the spices used are old and have lost their flavor and aroma, or the curry is under-seasoned.
For the lamb marinade:
- 500g (17.5oz) lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp yogurt
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- ½ tsp turmeric
For the spice mix:
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 3 cardamom
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 4 dried chilies
- 1 tbsp freshly grated coconut
For the curry:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 1 green chili, chopped
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 2 tsp salt
Marinate the lamb
- In a bowl, combine lamb and the other ingredients for the marinade.
- Mix well and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
Prepare the spice mix
- Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice mix. To do this, heat a frying pan and, without adding oil, toast all the spices together until fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Once the spices are cool, put them in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside for later.
Make the curry
- Heat oil in a non-stick pot on medium high before adding chopped onions, chili and curry leaves. Sauté until onions brown, around 8 to 10 minutes. Add ½ tsp salt to help the onions brown faster.
- On medium-low heat, add tomatoes. Once the tomatoes soften, add the marinated lamb cubes and the freshly ground spice mix. Mix well and cook for 3 – 4 minutes.
- Then, add water and 1½ tsp salt. On high heat, bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow the curry to simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After that, continue to cook uncovered for 15 minutes to thicken the curry.
- Finally, taste and add more salt if needed before garnishing with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rice or naan.
- This curry is quite spicy. If you prefer it to be milder, use 1 – 2 dried chilies in the spice mix instead of 4.
- You can also use mutton instead of lamb for this recipe.
- This curry serves 3 – 4 people.
This authentic lamb curry recipe is such a treat! Tender chunks of lamb coated in a thick, spicy sauce, served with basmati rice and raita on the side.
Is that not the most luxurious and satisfying weekend lunch ever?!
Treat your family to this Chettinad mutton curry and enjoy some delicious family bonding time!
If you tried this recipe, please rate and comment below! We’d love to hear from you.