40 ingredient lamb curry


One of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet is to ensure you eat a diverse range of natural, minimally processed whole foods every day.  There are so many nutrients in whole food that you just can't take in supplement form, and I've found some of the best advice health advocates give is to encourage you to consume as many good, colourful, real ingredients as you can in order to get the benefits from a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (found in spices). 

My lamb curry is one big hit of whole ingredients, put together into a flavour packed combination that even my usually fussy children can't resist.  Including my bottle masala, which adds 20 freshly roasted whole spices to the mix, there are 40 real ingredients in this delicious meal.  Over 10 different vegetables, plus high quality meat and dairy in the form of ghee and full fat greek yoghurt.  I can guarantee you'll enjoy this curry as much if not more than any Indian take-away meal... because this curry contains the kind of long ingredient list you are actually looking for in your food.

To feed your family fully of goodness, you'll need:

1 kilo of good quality lamb, as free range as you can get, with bones (forequarter chops are great)

half a cup of full fat greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 heaped tablespoon of Spice Mama's bottle masala (or very good quality curry powder)

1 teaspoon of salt

half a teaspoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of ghee

1 stalk of curry leaves

6-8 spring onions, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 heaped tablespoon of grated ginger

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon of grated fresh turmeric

1 chopped tomato

half a zucchini, grated

half a small eggplant, grated

half a cup of pumpkin, grated

2 large potatoes, cubed

half a cup of frozen peas

a large handful of baby spinach leaves 

a large handful of chopped coriander leaves 

With a list of ingredients a mile long, this recipe sounds much more complicated than it is.  To begin, clean and dice the lamb, then marinate in a mix of the yoghurt, tomato paste, bottle masala, salt and sugar.  Leave overnight or even half an hour helps if you're time poor.

Grate all the veggies: zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin, and set aside.

Heat ghee in a large, heavy based pot, then fry off the curry leaves, spring onions, chilli, ginger, garlic and turmeric until lightly brown, then add the tomato and keep frying until lightly mushy.  Add the grated vegetables and keep frying for another minute or two.  Then pour in the lamb and marinade, and fry for a few more minutes until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.

Turn the heat to low, add half a cup of water and cover, cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for an hour and a half.  After this time, add the potatoes, cook for another 15 minutes, then add the peas and cook for another few minutes.  At the end, taste for seasoning, adding more salt if you need to.  Stir through the fresh spinach leaves and chopped coriander just before serving. 



Lamb biryani


Biryani is one of India's oldest dishes, first eaten at the courts of the Mughal emperors in the 1600's.  Biryanis were traditionally lavish, full of meats, dried fruit and nuts, the best rice, saffron and silver leaf.  My mum's mum made an incredible biryani on days of celebration in our family, and mum continues the tradition.  I feel lucky to be able to make it myself, and hope my children will also learn one day.  

The recipe below is for an easy version of biryani - one that takes an hour or two (depending on whether you use a pressure cooker - my mum does, I don't) rather than several.  Don't be put off by the seemingly long list of ingredients, it's actually not too hard to put together.  Perfect for a winter weekend feast.

For 6 people you will need:

750 grams of diced lamb (forequarters, chops... it needs to be a bit bony)

3 medium onions, sliced finely

1 cup of oil

1 cup of yoghurt

1 tablespoon each of crushed garlic and ginger

1 chopped tomato

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

2 teaspoons of chilli powder

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

3-4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon of whole cloves

3 large black cardamom

1 teaspoon of peppercorns

1 teaspoon of shah jeera (black cumin)

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

3 cups of basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for half an hour in 6 cups of water

1/2 a teaspoon of saffron

1 tablespoon of ghee

salt and sugar

Start by marinating your meat in a large, non-reactive bowl: add the yoghurt, turmeric, chilli, ground coriander and cumin powders, ginger and garlic, mix and leave aside (if you have time you can marinate this the night before).

The next and one of the most important steps in biryani making is the onions.  You need to basically deep fry them crisp and golden brown, don't worry about the oil you can drain a lot of it once they are fried.  This onion mix is called birista, see the photo below.

To fry the onions, heat the cup of oil in a large, heavy pot, add the sliced onions and fry well, stirring often until they are crispy and golden.  With a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and drain them on kitchen roll or newspaper... this gets a lot of the oil out.

If you are using the same pot to cook the lamb, drain it of most of the oil, turn the heat back on, add the onions back in and then the marinated lamb.  Next add the chopped tomato and all the whole spices (bay, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and shah jeera), a heaped teaspoon of salt and a spoon of sugar, a little bit of water (like a quarter of a cup) and cook on low for 1.5 to 2 hours until the lamb is tender, stirring occasionally to ensure a nice thick, dark brown gravy is developing.  If you are using a pressure cooker (which takes the least time), you need to cook it for 30 minutes only.

Once the lamb is on, cook the rice.  You should have 3 cups soaked in 6 cups of water, add a teaspoon of salt, a glug of oil and bring it to boil.  Turn down the heat to low and cover, then cook for 10-12 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Once it is cooked, add a tablespoon of ghee and stir in.

Once the rice and lamb is cooked, the next step is to assemble the biryani.  Layer the meat in a large oven dish, and follow with the rice.  You can do one layer of each, or a few layers, but always end with the rice.  

Take your saffron and put it in a tiny bowl with a couple of tablespoons of hot water, which will turn orange.  Swirl this on the top of the rice to give it lovely yellow streaks.

Cover the dish with a lid or foil, and put this in the oven on medium heat - around 180 degrees celsius, for about half an hour.  When it is ready, you can serve it topped with silver leaf, or fried onion, or some toasted slivered almonds or other nuts.

Serve with raita or kachumber.



Spicy seekh kebabs


Yes, it's nearly 40 degrees here in Perth today but I need to toughen up, I have Christmas cooking to do!  The hotter the weather the spicier my food seems to become... actually that applies when it gets colder too... so I don't think the weather matters - I need my food hot!  These seekh kebabs are easy to make and great to grill or BBQ, perfect served with a big salad and flat breads.  To make around 12 skewers, you will need:

500 grams of good quality lamb mince

6 large green chillies

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 a medium sized onion

1 teaspoon of grated fresh turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric

1 teaspoon each of crushed ginger and garlic

Juice of half a large lemon

1/3 cup each or chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of oil 

bamboo skewers (soaked for 30 minutes)

Take all the ingredients except the lamb and whiz them up to a thick paste in a food processor.  The thermomix is good, and I have been using my Nutribullet which works perfectly.  

Place lamb in a large bowl, add the marinade paste, get in there with your hands and mix it all really well... knead it like dough for a couple of minutes until everything is really combined and the lamb is soft and mushy.  Cover and keep in the fridge overnight if you can, or for as long as you have before cooking.

To make the kebabs, take a small handful (a quarter cup or so) of the mince in your hand, roll it into a ball and then mould them slowly into a long sausage shape.  Place a skewer into the middle, push it down gently and then shape the mince around it so wraps around the skewer.  

Flatten the kebab slightly so it will sit flat, and place on an oiled grill tray under a hot grill or BBQ plate for 10 minutes on each side or until lovely and brown.

Serve with lots of lemon juice and fresh herbs.

Oven roasted lamb cutlets

lamb cutlets.png

This is one of those perfect, easy to throw together one-dish winter meals.  That everyone in my family loves.  Amazingly.  

To make enough for four people, you will need:

1 kilo of lamb cutlets

2 heaped tablespoons of full fat greek yoghurt

2 heaped tablespoons of tomato paste

1 tablespoon of oil 

1 heaped tablespoon of bottle masala (or good quality, freshly ground curry powder)

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

A punnet of cherry tomatoes

Fresh coriander and lemon to garnish

Make a marinade with the yoghurt, tomato paste, oil, crushed garlic and seasonings and coat the lamb.  I do this in a snap lock bag which inevitably tears... and then I saw on Masterchef last week that you can use two bags, one inside the other to prevent this, which had never before occurred to me.  Leave for anything between 30 minutes to overnight, depending on how much time you have.

To cook the lamb, you can grill, pan fry, BBQ or bake it.  For this recipe I put the lamb in a big oven dish and bake it in a 200 degree oven for around 10 minutes, then I take it out, throw in the cherry tomatoes and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the lamb browns and tomatoes go a bit mushy.  

When the lamb is done, take it out and leave it to rest for a few minutes before serving.  Serve topped with fresh coriander and lots of fresh lemon juice. 



Bombay potato chops


Potato chops are an institution in Anglo Indian cooking.  They are basically crumbed and fried patties with a surprise centre of spicy mince coated in soft mashed potato, and definitely take the made-for-each-other combination of meat and potato to a whole new level of deliciousness.

In my family of course everyone has their own version of the recipe which they will fight in the trenches to claim as the best.  To maintain my relationship with my mother I had to overlook my Nana's and her old cook Hira's recipe and go with hers, and I have to admit they were pretty amazing.

Potato chops are a bit fiddly to make but they are worth the effort.  You can always make the potato and mince filing a day ahead so you're not in the kitchen for hours doing them all at once. Or more efficiently, make your mum do it for you.  

Eat them with curry and rice or just plain as a burger or in a sandwich... however you do you'll be converted.. especially if you're my Irish husband, who's enthusiasm was so great it stretched to the inadvertent consumption of eggplant.

To make 12 potato chops you will need:

For the mince:

2 tablespoons of oil

300 grams of good quality lamb mince (we used organic)

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 large tomato, finely chopped

1 small Japanese eggplant (or substitute with regular eggplant or another veg)

½ a green capsicum

1 heaped tablespoon of Bombay Bottle Masala (or substitute with a good curry powder)

3 finely chopped spring onions

2 finely chopped green chillies

handful of finely chopped coriander



For the potato chops:

8 large potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

1.5 cups of breadcrumbs – make your own if you can

1 egg

½ cup of oil to fry

Prepare the potatoes and leave aside to cool.

To cook the mince, heat oil in a large heavy frying pan and brown the finely chopped onion slowly.  Add the garlic and then the tomato and stir fry for a minute, then add the bottle masala.  Next add the finely chopped vegetables – eggplant and capsicum, and when everything is looking well cooked add the mince.  Stir fry to break up lumps and ensure everything is well mixed, add a splash of water if you need to and a teaspoon of salt.  Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  When it is done, stir through fresh spring onions, green chilli and the juice of half a lemon, and check for salt.  Set aside to cool.

To make the potato chops, have your bowls of mashed potato and mince ready, spread the breadcrumbs over a large tray, whisk the egg in a small bowl and roll up your sleeves.

Use a 1/3 cup measure or similar to take a scoop of mashed potato in your hand, flatten it into a round patty and then shape it like you are making a small bowl.  Place a tablespoon of mince into the middle of this, and work with your hands to fold over the potato so the mince becomes enclosed (see pic below). 

It takes a bit of practice, but after a few you should get the hang of it and end up with 12 evenly sized flat potato cakes (it is definitely worth persisting).

When you are done, dip these one by one in the beaten egg and coat them in breadcrumbs.

Heat a good layer of oil in a frying pan, and shallow fry the potato chops until they are golden on all sides.  Drain on kitchen towels and if you need, place them in a warm oven to stay crispy until you serve them.


Nana's cutlets


Mince cutlets have been a favourite meal in my family for well over 100 years.  My grandfather Claude De Souza was one of 10 children, and in their turn of the century household it was commonplace for both children and adults alike to hide theirs under piles of rice so they wouldn't be stolen by hungrier members of the family.  My Nana had her own version of the recipe, which was elaborated upon by her old cook Hira, who famously added a secret ingredient (later found out to be the very un-mysterious Worcestershire sauce).  

This cutlet recipe benefits from the addition of lots of fresh coriander and green chilli.  Cutlets are great eaten traditionally with curry and rice and yellow Bombay potatoes; or can be served in a wrap, as a burger or just simply in fresh crusty white bread, my favourite way of eating them.

500 grams of mince (lamb or if using beef, make sure it still has a bit of fat)

1 cup of fresh coriander, chopped

5-6 green chillies

1 large red onion

8 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of grated ginger

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 egg (plus an egg for coating)

1 slice of stale bread

1 cup of breadcrumbs

oil to fry

lots of lemon or lime juice

In a food processor, blend coriander, chillies, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, egg and a slice of stale bread torn into pieces into a fine paste.

Place mince in a bowl, add spice paste and knead gently by hand until combined.  Take small scoops of mince (around a heaped tablespoon), roll into a ball and then flatten into a cutlet shape.  Using wet hands helps.

Coat the cutlets by dipping them in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs.  Heat around 1 cm of oil in a wide, heavy based frying pan and fry cutlets, a few at a time, for a few minutes on each side.  Place in a warm oven to finish cooking.  When ready to serve, squeeze over lots of fresh lemon juice.