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Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry

Cuisine: Indian
Region: North

This is a classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry recipe that is very popular in the North of India. The recipe is also healthy and nutritious to boot. (Scroll down for the analysis.)

Serves 6
Cooking time: 40 – 60 min
You will need: a skillet
Notes: requires marinating


  • 1 Kg (2 lbs) x boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-in (2.5-cm) cubes
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 inch (2.5-cm) cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 4 fresh green chili peppers, without seeds, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped

Yogurt Curry Marinade

  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Asian chili powder or ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1⁄2 cup (@250g) plain yogurt
  • 2 Tsp garam masala spice
  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a blender or a food processor, blend together the Curry Yogurt Marinade ingredients until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the marinade and lamb, making sure the pieces are well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the cardamom pods, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. They should sizzle in the oil.
  5. Quickly add the ground coriander.
  6. Mix in the lamb with the marinade and sauté over high heat, stirring for 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the juices are mostly dry, 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Add the green chili peppers, tomato, water, and 1 cup of yogurt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until lamb is tender and sauce is thick.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with the fresh coriander.


  • A Tip regarding how to treat deep lamb or goat meat, here

Classic Marinated Lamb Curry : Nutritional and Scientific Analysis

by Anastasios Varvoglis,
Professor Emeritus, Organic Chemistry, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.


The Classic Marinated Indian Lamb Curry is both nutritious and healthy, containing no less than 11 herbs and a total of 18 ingredients.

A. Lamb

Lamb is the kind of meat with many friends but also with some enemies, because of its flavor. This “drawback” is cured by introducing all these delightful flavours of spice and herbs. As it happens with all kinds of meat, lamb is a good source of high quality protein containing all essential amino acids. Its high fat content means also elevated cholesterol; however, the presence of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in sheep/lamb meat offsets this drawback. Concerning vitamins, there are many, especially B6 and B12, whereas there also iron, copper, zinc and selenium.

B. Onions

Onions rank nutritionally among top vegetables, although their content in protein and fat is very low. Carbohydrates are their main ingredient (15%), with considerable quantities of edible fibre. The high value of onions is due to their polyphenols and sulfur compounds. Polyphenols are of several types, including anthocyanins, flavonoids and tannins; most of them have been studied in depth concerning health effects and they are most beneficial. Sulphur compounds are present in lesser quantities and they are not so well studied but they surely add to the overall good picture.

Tip. Peel onions as little as possible because the greater quantities of polyphenols are found in the external layers. When previously chilled, onions are peeled emitting less lachrymatory essential oil.

C. Yogurt

Yogurt contains varying amounts of fat, up to 10%. Whole milk yogurt may be replaced by a light variety which usually is available from cow’s milk (grass-fed cows produce better milk). However, yogurt from sheep’s milk is preferable from a nutritional point of view because of its high content of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is most beneficial to health; on the bad side, this type of yogourt is high in cholesterol (there is no “light” version in the market). Yogurt is rich in high quality protein, calcium, riboflavin, and vitamins (B6 and B12). It has also nutritional benefits beyond those of milk due to its probiotics. Lactose-intolerant individuals may tolerate yogurt because of the conversion of lactose to glucose and galactose, and the partial fermentation of lactose to lactic acid carried out by the bacteria present in the yogurt.

D. Spices

Garam masala is the least known among spices of this recipe, no doubt because it is a mixture of several spices (usually 7, some of which are added separately). Curry is also a mixture of varying ingredients. All spices contain volatile essential oils which are mixtures of several compounds; their use is obviously for their flavors, but most of them are of antimicrobial character. In addition, there are some non-volatile constituents with considerable health benefits. It would be tedious to describe health benefits of all these spices, especially since their quantities, and accordingly their bioactive constituents, are fairly low. However, it is useful to mention epigrammatically some of them:

  • Turmeric contains curcumin, with anticancer properties.
  • Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which prevents clumping of blood platelets.
  • Chili peppers contain capsaicin, an irritant, but also with cardiovascular benefits.
  • Coriander contains dodecenal, a strong antibiotic.

More information about individual ingredients can be found also at :

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