This mughlai lamb is tender and succulent with a browned exterior and has a wonderful rich flavour.
(This post has been updated with more information. The recipe remains the same but was previously called Kashmiri Dry Lamb.)
This is an old family recipe which was given to me by my mother who received it many years ago from a wonderful lady who belonged to one of the old families of Kashmir, tracing their heritage back to Mughal times.
It quickly became one of our favourite recipes and we have made this dish so many times over the years for friend and family get togethers, holidays and special occasions.
The lamb is cooked slowly over a low flame in just a few aromatic spices and buttermilk, then lightly fried (or roasted, see recipe notes) to brown the exterior.
The result is a lamb that is soft, tender and aromatically spiced with delicious browning of the maillard reaction.
The wonderful aroma, rich flavours and tenderness of the meat are typical of mughal cuisine where aromatic spices and butter, milk, yogurt and cream were often used.
This recipe uses buttermilk to tenderise the lamb so it is soft as butter whilst remaining moist after cooking.
This dish is incredibly easy to make and absolutely delicious!
The incredibly beautiful region of Kashmir remains divided between two countries; India and Pakistan.
Kashmiri cuisine is influenced by three main cooking styles: that of the Kashmiri Pandits (the only remaining Hindu community native to the Kashmiri Valley in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir), the Muslims and the more ancient style of the Mughals.
As most of their economy is centred around agriculture, the cuisine is rich in flavour and diversity.
Warm spices such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are commonly used, along with other fragrant spices such as fennel seeds and saffron.
The famous Kashmiri red chillies are a great deal less pungent than other varieties of chilli, but they add a wonderful flavour.
A great deal of meat is consumed in Kashmir, in particular slow cooked meats, which are often cooked in yoghurt or milk due to the mughal influence.
This is one of the very few regions in India where lamb meat is used, as elsewhere what is commonly termed as ‘mutton’ is in fact goat meat.
Read my article on mutton and goat meat in India.
In Kashmir, dishes are usually cooked in Ghee (clarified butter) which adds to the rich flavours. I use sunflower oil for this recipe, but you could substitute with ghee.
The original recipe for dry Kashmiri lamb uses mutton, but I prefer to use lamb. Read more about the difference between mutton, lamb and goat meat.
I used a leg of lamb cut into small pieces, but you could also use shoulder – some pieces are boneless and some on the bone.
How to make it
- Lightly fry the onions till golden brown and set aside.
- In a large pan combine the rest of the ingredients (not the fresh cilantro/coriander). Then partially cover and simmer on a low heat for 60 minutes, till tender.
- Remove the lamb and set aside. (Strain and reserve the remaining liquid for a tasty stock for pilau/rice.)
- In the same pan, heat the oil and return the pieces of lamb to the pan to brown (be careful to drain the lamb as any excess liquid will spit during frying). If you prefer not to fry the lamb, transfer it to a baking dish and roast on full heat for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the lamb from the pan, season and garnish with the fried onions and chopped cilantro/coriander.
Add around 8-10 strands of bloomed saffron to the pan when slow cooking the lamb.
If you prefer not to fry the lamb, transfer it to a baking dish and roast on full heat for 5-10 minutes.
Stir in ½ teaspoon of crushed dried fenugreek leaves with the lamb in the pan towards the end of cooking.
Kashmiri Dry Lamb goes well with warm bread and plain yogurt, or raita.
More lamb recipes
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- sunflower oil for frying
- 1 large onion finely sliced
- 1 kilos lamb leg of lamb/lamb shoulder, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 5 cloves
- 4 green cardamoms whole and crushed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground fennel
- 2 whole green chillies broken in half
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chilli Paste or 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- coarse sea salt to taste
for the garnish
- fresh cilantro/coriander a few sprigs
- sunflower oil, 1 large onionIn a large frying pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of oil and sauté the sliced onions. Once golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
- 1 kilos lamb, 2 cups buttermilk, 5 cloves, 4 green cardamoms, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground fennel, 2 whole green chillies, coarse sea salt, 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chilli PasteIn a large heavy saucepan combine the rest of the ingredients, including the lamb (but not the cilantro/coriander).
- Partially cover and simmer on a low heat till the meat is soft and tender (approx. 45 minutes-1 hour). Remove the lamb from the remaining liquid.
- fresh cilantro/corianderIn the same pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat, reducing to medium-low, and fry the lamb pieces until well browned all over, approx 8 minutes in total (see notes below to roast the lamb instead). Transfer the lamb to absorbent paper to drain the excess oil. Garnish with the onions and chopped cilantro/coriander.
- Use leg of lamb leg or shoulder, cut into small pieces.
- Be careful to drain the lamb as any excess liquid will spit during frying.
- If you prefer not to fry the lamb, transfer it to a baking dish and roast on full heat for 5-10 minutes.
- After simmering the lamb, strain and reserve the liquid to use as a tasty stock for pilau/rice.
- This recipe can be made ahead and reheated on a low heat before serving.
The ingredients here on EOTF are set out in grams & milliliters and in US cups & spoons.