Shahi Korma (“Royal Lamb” with a Creamy Almond Sauce)

When I eat out, I tend to avoid ordering chicken. There’s lots of spectacular chicken dishes out there, but to me, its the least exciting of meats. But when I go to Indian restaurants, its usually another story. Often, I’ll encounter lamb (or mutton)-based curries, but what this has usually amounted to for me is tough meat, no distinct lamb/mutton flavor, and the dish is swimming in a pool of grease (on that note, I wish there were better Indian restaurants around here!). I thought I’d try my hand at it this at home to see how I would fare.

Shahi Korma ("Royal Lamb" with a Creamy Almond Sauce)

If you’re like me, the name of this dish seems a bit confusing when combined with the photo. Creamy almond sauce evokes images of a delicate, light-tannish colored, velvetty sauce. Well, it started out that way, but the end result is a lot thicker, almost to the point of adding a tacky crust to the meat (which I was smitten with). It is also so much more complex in flavor than you’d expect–bold and spiced in a style typical of Indian cuisine, but still bringing deep, nutty tastes that are well suited to lamb. Oh, and on the note of lamb, much to my delight, when I ate this, it was more than clear flavor-wise that it was lamb (hallelujah!)–tender, slightly gamey, and nice and juicy. The sauce was forward, but not to the extent that it took away from the lamb–they were very much equals. The only thing I would change next time was the heat level (there wasn’t nearly enough), but I like spice, so I can easily go over board on that one.

Also, while I love lamb, my wife has never cared for it. This dish has the distinction of green lighting future use of lamb–woo hoo! And worth noting, I derived this recipe from a cookbook I received for Christmas, Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking. If you’re looking for a book with easily approachable Indian cooking to get you started in what can be an unfamiliar cuisine, this book is well worth a look.

  • ~2.5-3 lbs lamb shoulder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch knob of ginger
  • 5 Tbsp blanched almonds
  • water
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp anise seeds
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1.25 cups heavy cream

Brown the lamb chunks

Begin by cutting the lamb into 1/2-1 inch cubes. If you have bones, hang on to them–they add flavor! Season with salt and pepper and brown the meat and bones (in batches so as not to overcrowd your pan) in vegetable oil for about 3 minutes per side. Set this aside.

Fry the spices, shallots, and paste

In the oil that remains in the pan, add the cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, frying for a minute or two. Then add the finely minced shallots, frying until slightly browned.

While you wait, purée the peeled garlic, ginger, almonds, and 6 tablespoons of water until a paste is formed. When the shallots are done, also fry the paste and add the remaining spices. Stir regularly–you want to brown the paste a little, but if you’re not careful, it will stick and burn. Try to fry for about 3 minutes.

Add cream and water to the paste

Deglaze with the cream and 1/2 cup of water, scraping every last brown bit off the bottom of the pan. Heat this back up to a boil and return the meat to the pan. Cover and simmer on low-medium heat for an hour further, stirring occasionally. Remove the bones when time is up, fishing out the spices you can readily find. The previously thin sauce will thicken up to a surprising degree. You’ll also (probably) find a good bit of fat has been let off by the lamb during cooking–do your best to spoon this off the top and discard it.

Shahi Korma ("Royal Lamb" with a Creamy Almond Sauce)

With the lamb done, its time to serve. I had a side of parathas and basmati rice steamed with cardamom, mustard seeds, Bay leaves, and peas. Enjoy!

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28 Responses to “Shahi Korma (“Royal Lamb” with a Creamy Almond Sauce)”

  1. nina Says:

    Oh my my, Mike This is making me drool so badly now….I love the look of this lamb, yum!

  2. dp Says:

    I love love love lamb in Indian food. It can really stand up to the robust spices. And the best Indian recipes I’ve made at home have come from Madhur Jaffery. Yours looks awesome!

  3. Meeta Says:

    oh mike i am really enjoying the fact that you are cooking more indian dishes! i love lamb and especially a korma. i made a chicken korma a few weeks ago – so can still taste the flavors. i have to get my hands on some lamb to do this!

  4. Mary Says:

    Hooray for lamb curry! I made a shrimp dish with ground almonds like this and it was amazing so I can only imagine what it does for lamb! And I had to learn how to cook Indian food because there are NO Indian restaurants within an hour’s radius of me. :(

  5. Jeff Says:

    I am like you in that steak and chicken I tend to avoid in restaurants. Chicken is always the easiest thing for a restaurant to #$%*!&% up and steak is just steak.

    I am going to check that cookbook out and looks awesome as always.

  6. Elra Says:

    Hi Mike, it’s my first time here. You have such a delicious and mouth watering recipes.
    Lamb is my favorite meat as well, in fact I don’t really that fond of beef. Shahi korma sounds so delicious, and my mouth water just by looking at the photographs.

  7. noble pig Says:

    Mike, that is a beautiful meal…very exotic too. I can’t remember when I ordered chicken at a restaurant either, I mean we can always make that at home!

  8. grace Says:

    creamy almond sauce? with the spices and flavors in that amazing sauce, i’d even be tempted to butcher the lamb myself. no. no, i wouldn’t, but it is a great sauce. :)

  9. mikky Says:

    this is a great way of serving lamb… looks so tender and full of flavor… :)

  10. Joan Nova Says:

    Looks delicious and aromatic. The nose knows.

  11. Choosy Beggar Tina Says:

    I’m such a sucker for both lamb and Indian food….sigh……I rarely make korma because I’m a fatty who’s afraid of eating cream. However, that doesn’t mean that i don’t polish it off and lick my fingers clean if it HAPPENS to be served to me in a restaurant. Gotta love the ‘deliberate ignorance’ double standard….

  12. [eatingclub] vancouver || js Says:

    Your lamb korma looks amazing! And the endorsement from non-lamb-eaters: way to go!

  13. nithya at hungry desi Says:

    Mike, I just looked at the cookbook last weekend! My only complaint is that it seems to have mostly non-vegetarian dishes..and my husband and I are both strict vegetarians :) Happy to see that it’s clearly working out for you…I think I’ll try this dish with some type of soy protein.

  14. Dragon Says:

    I can almost smell the wonderful scents coming from your kitchen. It looks amazing.

  15. Hélène Says:

    I’m with you I don’t order chicken in restaurants unless it’s Lebanese.

    I love Indian dishes but never order lamb. But this looks amazing.

  16. zenchef Says:

    This looks so good Mike. I love the spice mixture and the lamb shoulder is perfect for this. I can smell it from here! Yum.

  17. gaga Says:

    Mmm, that looks fantastic! I’m trying to learn more about Indian cooking, so I really appreciate you sharing this. Yum!

  18. Jude Says:

    Learning how all of those spices balance each other out is always fun :) Lamb is so good with fiery dishes.

  19. Maya Says:

    I love kurmas! We always make them on special occasions.

  20. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    I actually love the chicken version of this dish, but you’re right, it’s often overcooked and greasy in restaurants. This lamb version looks delicious; I love those thick nut-based sauces.

  21. Farina Says:

    I will take korma anytime over curry! I usually make chicken korma and use the instant paste since it’s easy to get back in Malaysia.

  22. Terry B Says:

    Okay, Mike, it’s the end of the work day and you’ve got me thinking of a lamb with cumin dish one of our favorite Chinese restaurants here in Chicago serves. I’m wondering if the uncooked chicken I have at home will keep another night. This looks and sounds wonderful. Also reminds me that I want to explore more Indian cuisine at home. [Which is to say more than the two dishes I currently do!]

  23. Peter Says:

    I’m like you…I’ll ordering anything but chicken…that I can have anytime at home.
    Lamb shoulder, slow braised with these Indian spices – we want. I’ll even endure watching the Love Guru for this! lol

  24. White On Rice Couple Says:

    I love anything cooked with creamy sauces, but this lamb has got to win the prize. It look fabulous! I just love all the wonderful spices that you put into it.
    Also, thanks for the heads up on the cookbook. I love cookbooks! It’s another one to add to my collection of learning.

  25. Kevin Says:

    That looks good! I like the sound of that creamy almond sauce.

  26. Maninas Says:

    Stunning recipe and a fantastic photo! I’m very very tempted! If didn’t have a Sri Lankan dal waiting at home, and some lamb in the freezer, I’d definitely be making this tonight!

  27. Rogan Josh from Mike's Table Says:

    […] about Indian food has been one of my goals for this year–something I ushered in by making shahi korma. Shortly after, I had received an email from one of my readers (Rose S. in India), very kindly […]

  28. Shahi Korma (Lamb with Creamy Almond Sauce) « Our Life in Food Says:

    […] which had a nice almond flavored base, and the lamb turned out incredibly tender. As noted on Mike’s Table, where I got the recipe, I was really pleased, too, that you could definitely taste the distinct […]

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