Creamy, nutty lamb curry with dried figs

Creamy, nutty lamb curry with dried figs

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

This fabulous dish has a wonderful warmth and flavour of whole spices. I have lightened it a little by replacing some of the cream that would normally be used with milk. I like the figs and pistachios for a burst of sublime, complementary flavours, but it doesn’t really need the embellishment. I leave it to you; you can leave them out or choose to top off the dish with toasted flaked almonds, cashews or pine nuts instead. You can also stir in a little coconut cream at the end. Serve with rice or Naan.


Quantity Ingredient
60g cashew nuts
200ml whole milk
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 small onions, sliced
6 large garlic cloves
20g ginger, peeled weight
160g plain full-fat yogurt, (not too sour, if it is add a little less)
salt, to taste
500g diced leg or shoulder of lamb
7.5cm cinnamon stick
6 cloves
7 green cardamom pods
2 blades mace
2 bay leaves
1-3 green chillies, whole but pierced, (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 tablespoons double cream, or to taste
1-1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala, or to taste
6 large dried ready-to-eat figs, halved or quartered, (optional)
handful pistachios, shelled and blanched
or flaked almonds


  1. Soak the cashew nuts in the milk for 10 minutes, then blend them together until smooth and set aside.
  2. Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the onions and fry gently for 10–12 minutes, until soft and translucent. Remove two-thirds of the onions, set aside, and continue to fry the rest until well browned. Remove and set these aside separately. Put any residual oil into a small bowl. Give the pan a wipe with kitchen paper.
  3. Blend the soft, pale onions with the garlic, ginger and yogurt to a smooth paste; season. If you have time, marinate the lamb in this mixture for at least one hour; ideally, cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Heat the remaining oil and any residual oil (from cooking the onion), add the whole spices and bay leaves and allow them to sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the lamb, marinade, green chillies and ground coriander. Bring to a boil over a moderate flame, stirring very often. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until all the yogurt has been absorbed and the paste releases oil; the meat will start to stick to the pan.
  5. Add enough water to cover the lamb. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 45–60 minutes, or until the lamb is tender. Stir the pot every 10–15 minutes or so, and make sure there is always some liquid in the pan. Uncover the pot and reduce the sauce in the pan until it comes just one-third of the way up the meat. Add the cashew nut paste, cream, garam masala and dried figs (if using). Bring back to a boil and simmer for three or four minutes, the sauce should be creamy. Stir in the reserved onions and sprinkle with the nuts.
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