Lamb and spinach karahi curry

Is this the worst food photo you’ve ever seen?

lamb curry

If you thought that was bad this is even worse.

lamb curry 2

In my defence, Rick Stein doesn’t even try to photograph this dish for his ‘Food Heroes’ book.


My husband told me last week that he was craving a curry, so (ever keen to please like a good wife) I raided my cookbooks determined to find something new and exciting. I stumbled across this recipe which I liked the sound of, even though it goes against all my principles of cooking curry viz. cooking out the spices, browning off the meat.

And then this week (while the said curry was in progress) I was reading the food section of the Telegraph online and I saw this article about Britain’s top curry restaurants. By pure coincidence the Karachi curry house (where this recipe is from) is on the list.

Karachi (15-17 Neal Street, Bradford) is the archetypal modest café-style venue that first began to proliferate in Bradford in the 70s to cater for the city’s swelling Asian working population. To this day it continues to pull in locals of all ethnicities with its unabashedly cheap and cheerful wares. It also won itself a fan in Rick Stein, who featured the restaurant in his Food Heroes TV series, proving that you don’t need AA/Michelin cuisine to become an industry frontrunner.

The curry was amazing and the photos DO NOT do it justice. It will definitely be added to my small but growing curry repertoire.

To make up for the bad photos of the food, here’s a photo of the wine that we drunk with it – a rather wonderful Indian Shiraz Cabinet Sauvignon courtesy of Weavers Wines.

soul tree

The Karachi’s Lamb and Spinach karahi curry (from Rick Stein’s Food Heroes)

Serves 6 (or 4 in our greedy household)

  • 250g of ghee (I really couldn’t bring myself to use all of this so I used 100g and this seemed fine)
  • 550g of roughly chopped onions (approximately 2 large ones)
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 120ml of water
  • 50g of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 65g of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (this is approximately one large bulb)
  • 900g of lamb shoulder or leg cut into 4cm cubes (I used leg and removed as much of the visible fat as possible)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
  • 350g of fresh spinach (although I used frozen spinach)
  • 4 medium sized green chillies, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh, chopped coriander
  • ½ tablespoon of garam masala

To serve

  • A pinch of ground cumin and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the ghee in a heavy based pan and fry the onions over a medium heat for 30 minutes until soft and a light brown colour.

Blend together the tomatoes, water, ginger and garlic and puree until smooth. Remove the onions from the pan with a slotted spoon leaving behind the ghee and add to the blender. Blend again until smooth.

Return the mix to the pan and add the meat and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, paprika and ground coriander and cook for a further 45 minutes with a lid on. (I didn’t find that the meat was cooked enough after this time so I cooked my leg meat for 2 hours by which point it was really tender and melting).

Next, put 175g of the spinach in a pan and cook briefly over a medium heat with a lid on until the spinach has wilted. Transfer to a blender and whizz until you have a smooth puree. (I just did the same thing with frozen spinach which I defrosted and then cooked in the microwave and then whizzed up. I did this with the whole 350g).

Rinse out the blender and whizz up the chillies with 2 tablespoons of water until you have a paste. Set aside.

Add the spinach puree and remaining leaf spinach to the lamb.

Then add as much chilli puree as you like. I made ours medium hot at this stage – using about half the mixture (because my husband can’t handle a lot of chilli) but then added more chilli puree to my portion on serving.

Stir in the chopped fresh coriander and garam masala.

Transfer the curry to a serving dish and garnish with black pepper and a sprinkle of cumin powder.

Serve with rice.


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