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Lamb Squash Curry

Lamb Squash Curry
Lamb Squash Curry

I don't think I have seen lamb squash curry in any of my recipe books. There are a few recipes on the web, some using minced lamb, but it just struck me as a sort of obvious combination to create a nice warming winter dish. Squashes of all sorts abound in India and are used in many vegetable dishes, they vary considerably in taste and most of the Indian varieties are not generally available. But really any sort of squash or pumpkin type vegetable will do.
I particularly like butternut squash and this with the lamb really complement each other to give you a lovely sweet comforting stew.

This is a Northern Indian style of dish and is essentially a type of korma. (Korma simply means 'braised' and there is no direct association with nuts and cream as Western Indian Resaurants would have you believe). It is a fairly simple recipe to prepare but should be braised slowly for some time.

Basic Ingredients

¾lb (325g) lamb
¾lb (325g) squash
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1inch (2.5cm) root ginger
Fresh chilli
A few curry leaves (Optional)
Juice of 1 lime
teaspoon amchoor
teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons yoghurt
Oil for frying
Coriander leaves to garnish

2 teaspoons coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon fenugreek seed
1 inch(2.5cm) stick cinnamon
teaspoon ajwain seed (Optional)
teaspoon mustard seed

Notes on Ingredients

Lamb. This can be any cut of lamb really (or mutton or goat). It can stand a bit of fat on this dish so does not have to be totally lean, something like shoulder with the excess fat trimmed off.

Squash. Butternut squash is really nice for this but you can use other squashes. I have seen a few lamb squash curry recipes with a mixture of squashes.

Chilli. I like to use fresh chilli in this but dried or even chilli powder is OK. Quantity and type are up to your taste.

Oil. Ghee is best for this and mustard oil is also very good, but any normal cooking oil will do.

Cumin. I usually use black cumin in this but normal cumin is fine.

Spices. I chose this particular mixture of spices and it seems to works well, but this is a lamb curry dish that you can subtly change by using different combinations - for example use about 4 or 5 cardamom pods instead of the fenugreek.

Basic Method

Cut the lamb into about 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes.
Sprinkle this with salt, amchoor and lime juice, mixing well and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Peel the squash and cut into cubes the same size as the lamb.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.
Chop up the chilli.
Roast all the spices in a dry frying pan for a minute then grind to a fine powder.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan which has a lid.
Put in the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for a minute on high heat.
Turn down the heat and continue to cook the onions until they are really soft - about 10 minutes.
Add the spices and stir in continuing to cook for another couple of minutes.
Crush in the curry leaves.
Turn up the heat and add the lamb.
Cook on high heat for about 5 minutes to seal the meat, stir all the time.
Turn the heat right down to simmer.
Allow to simmer for a few minutes then add the yoghurt and stir in.
Put in the squash and mix in thoroughly.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and leave to simmer for an hour or so stiring occasionally.
Tip into a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves.

Notes on Method

Not much to say about this one. The dish will look a little dry to start with, after the squash has been added it will need stiring quite often at first. Keep the lid on and the squash sort of excudes moisture into the dish until it becomes a lovely juicy lamb squash curry.

Lamb squash curry has become a definite favourite in the winter months. It is pretty much an all in one meal but you can eat it with rice or bread. I have served it with Aloo Tikki - spicy potato cutlets and this is really good. With any sort of side dish, the quantities here will feed 3-4 adults.

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