Lamb, yoghurt & sweet potato in onion masala



Yes, yes – more lamb! And what a truly delicious, bold way to prepare it. From Rick Stein’s India, this intriguing curry originates from Lucknow, India, where they’d use taro instead of sweet potato and a far more complex list of ingredients. This book is fantastic for giving you loads of weird and wonderful ideas to try – there are so many recipes I’ve earmarked that are really exciting just to read, and this is just one of them. (Tamarind Keralan pork and a real chicken korma are next!)

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The most amazing thing about this curry is how much it tastes of lamb! Deeply flavoursome. The onion masala (what a brilliant idea, blended fried onions) is evident, it’s rich pungency an underlay to the meaty lamb cooking in creamy and slightly sour yoghurt. You can taste the lovely fragrant spices, particularly the coriander, cloves, allspice and cardamom. All of these things somehow just make the lamb taste lambier?! Also worth noting – I made this curry pretty spicy, just because, and was glad I did. It’s super rich and could really take the heat – it doesn’t in any way mask the other flavours. And served with extra yoghurt to cool where needed.. am I selling it? Or just babbling on, in a too-full stupor, a lamb hangover. Probably.


Notes: quantities are slightly adjusted to suit my tastes/produce. For example I used fresh chillis instead of Rick’s powder and increased the quantities of sweet potato and garam masala slightly.
Taking Rick’s advice, I made my own garam masala for this recipe and have included my slightly tweaked version of his recipe for this complex spice blend below.

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You will need:

100g ghee
1 white onion, sliced
300g sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped into large chunks
400g boned lamb shoulder (I used Welsh lamb which I was pleasantly surprised to see in the supermarket for a very decent price!), seasoned lightly and cut into 3-4cm chunks
35g ginger, grated
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbspn garam masala (see recipe below)
1/2 tspn white pepper
1/2 tspn ground fennel seeds
1/2 tspn allspice
1 tspn salt
75ml thick Greek yoghurt, plus extra to serve
3 chillis, halved (I used finger chillis)


1 – Heat the ghee in a large casserole pan and add the onion. Fry until golden brown and crisped, then remove with a slotted spoon, adding the sweet potato carefully to the hot ghee to brown for 5 minutes. Lower the temperature a little as the potato will brown quickly.
2 – Blend the onions into a purée with a splash of water. Remove the sweet potato and drain on kitchen paper. Add the lamb to the ghee (turn the heat up a little) and brown.
3 – Add the onion masala, garlic and ginger, stir and cook for a few minutes before adding all the dry spices except for half the garam masala. Cook for a minute.
4 – Stir in the yoghurt and enough water to cover the lamb, stir well and cook for a few minutes before adding the chillis and turning down the heat. Cover and leave to cool for 1 hour or more, until the lamb is tender.
5 – Stir in the sweet potato and cool for a further 15 minutes til soft through. Then stir in the remaining garam masala. Serve with coriander and extra yoghurt


For the garam masala:

Simply dry roast 1 tbspn coriander seeds, the seeds from 18 cardamom pods, 2 cloves, 1/2 tbspn black peppercorns. Grind and stir in 1/2 tbspn cinnamon and 1/2 a grated nutmeg. (You could also add 1 tbspn dry roasted cumin seeds- Rick listed these in his recipe but I forgot to add them! Delicious without so up to you whether to include or not!)


13 thoughts on “Lamb, yoghurt & sweet potato in onion masala

  1. That curry looks just great. I really enjoyed watching Rick Stein in India – he is always so eager to learn and try new things. I find it inspirational. Just bought some fennel seeds yesterday so I might give this a go one night this week. margaret

  2. This looks so so good. I wish my husband ate lamb. He actually has, when I didn’t tell him !!! But I have a question. In Ireland, rick stein was pronounced rick STEEN. But in England, he’s pronounced rick STINE. Do you happen to know which one is correct?!!!

    1. Ha, nice sneakery there! I’d do the same if I was cooking for a lamb-phobe. Hmm I’ve always heard it pronounced as ‘stine’ – I’d imagine this would be correct given his English accent!

  3. Oh yum… I was waiting to see the finished product from that pot of lamb goodness! I’m a big fan of Rick Stein. I was hoping to stop at one of his restaurants on the Cornish coast but we didn’t end up driving far enough. Never mind. I do have three of his cookbooks at home so I can do some of my own ‘Rick Stein food’ soon enough! Oh, and lamb… I’m in desperate need of a Welsh lamb dinner today. It’s our last day in Cardiff and I’m yet to complete the mission! xx

    1. Ooo did you get your lamb in the end? Hope so! Yeah ricks awesome. I’d love to go to his restaurant one day, for the crab. Heard amazing things about the crab and that’s one thing I’d be too scared to try/cook/ruin at home! It’s on the bucket list :-) hope you’re enjoying your adventures x

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