Lamb in Pickling Spices

For a richly spiced Indian dish try Mehernosh Mody's flavourful recipe for lamb cooked with traditional pickling spices
By Mehernosh Mody
Lamb in Pickling Spices
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: Plus 1 hr soaking
  • Effort: medium



  • 500 g leg of lamb, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2.5 cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 125 ml thick yogurt
  • salt
  • 25 g cashew nuts
  • 2 green chillies
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • cardamom pods
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cm cinnamon sticks
  • 200 g onions, (ideally Spanish)sliced
  • 2 tsp malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • plain flour, or sealing dough
  • water, to moisten
  • chopped coriander, to garnish

For the pickling spices:

  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black onion seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds


1. First prepare the pickling spices. Using a pestle and mortar coarsely pound the pickling spices then set aside.

2. Using a pestle and mortar pound the ginger and garlic together with a little water to make a smooth paste.

3. Mix the garlic ginger paste with the yoghurt and add salt to taste. In a large bowl, toss the lamb cubes in the yoghurt mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

4. Meanwhile, soak the cashew nuts in water for 1 hour. Drain and grind or process into a smooth paste.

5. Slit open the green and red chillies lengthways and stuff with some of the pounded pickling spices. Retain the remainder.

6.Preheat the oven to 180°C.gas 4. Make the dough for sealing by mixing flour with just enough water to form a stiff dough. (the quantity of dough you need here depends on the size of your casserole dish). Shape the dough into a long sausage shape.

7. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a casserole dish. Add the cardamom, clove and cinnamon. Then add the sliced onion and fry, stirring often, until it is translucent.

8. Remove the meat from the marinade (reserving the marinade), add it to the pan and sear it on all sides.

9. Whisk the reserved marinade to give the yoghurt a smooth texture and add it to the frying pan.

10. Stirring continuously to prevent the yoghurt curdling, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Then add the cashew nut paste and salt to taste and, continuing to stir to prevent the paste from sticking to the bottom of the pan, simmer for a few minutes more.

11. Heat the remaining oil in a small heavy-based frying pan. Adding the stuffed chillies and the remainder of the pickling spices and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing to prevent them burning. Add the vinegar to the chillies.

12. Add the chillies and the contents of the frying pan to the casserole dish. Add the garam masala powder, stirring well, and put a lid on the pan. Use the sealing dough to seal the lid to the casserole dish.

13. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or alternately simmer it on top of the stove over medium heat for the same length of time. Uncover the casserole and serve the lamb garnished with chopped coriander.

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