Lamb with mustard seeds (lamb uppakari)

4 Oct

Lamb with mustard seeds (uppakari)

Flipping through cookbooks for ways to use a package of frozen lamb I’d unearthed from the freezer, I came across this recipe for lamb uppakari in Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Bible. Uppakari is a lamb curry originating from South India – which I’ve always associated with vegetarian food. But apparently the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu is renowned for highly spiced meat and fish dishes such as this one.

While the recipe calls for six to ten dried chillies, I played it safe with only two. Whole, dry chillies give a subtler heat than fresh ones, but I wanted a meal that the girls would eat happily. The end result was pretty mild actually, and I’d definitely go with four or five dried chillies next time.

Lamb with mustard seeds (lamb uppakari)
(serves 4)

  • 4 Tb sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 4-5 whole dried chillies
  • 1/2 tsp urad dal
  • 2 onions, cut half and then slivered
  • 10 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
  • 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 15-20 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 450g lamb shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Heat the oil in a wide, lidded pan over medium-high. When hot, add the mustard seeds, chillies, and urad dal.
  2. When the mustard seeds pop, add the onions, garlic, cinnamon, fennel and curry leaves. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onions start to colour.
  3. Add the ginger and tomatoes and cook a few minutes more.
  4. Now add the lamb, and sprinkle over the turmeric. Stir and cook for a minute more, then add the water and salt.
  5. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for an hour or so, until the lamb is tender.
  6. Remove the lid, turn the heat to high, and cook until the sauce is thick and clinging to the meat.

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