What Is Lamb Karahi?
Lamb karahi is a dish that captures the essence of rich culinary traditions. This meat curry uses fresh ingredients in a unique deep pot called ‘karahi or kadhai.’ Hence, the dish’s name derives its identity from its namesake vessel.
The curry is loaded with tomatoes, creamy yogurt, garam masala, and a blend of spices. With its hearty gravy, this karahi gosht combines lamb flavors with aromatic herbs, making it stand out as a favorite in Pakistani cuisine.
It is among the most popular menus at any Pakistani/ Indian restaurant.
The dish itself originated from the northern area called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The province has deep roots in history, culture, and tradition, and its people are warm and welcoming. Many notable dishes came from this region, but none can beat Mughlai karahi gosht. The authentic lamb karahi that the people of Khyber cook in a traditional karahi.
In the early 19th century, lamb karahi started becoming famous beyond the region when the ministers favored the dish as a part of a lavish banquet for the ministry guests. Today, you can enjoy the mouthwatering meat dish in your home.
Why You’ll Love This Curry
- Flavor: Roots in traditional Pakistani-style curries, this lamb karahi is full of flavor and aroma, with the tender lamb that has a melt-in-the-mouth texture and well-balanced spiced gravy.
- Easy to make: The layered flavors might seem intimidating. But, in reality, it is effortless to make. It uses everyday ingredients and simple methods that can make lamb cooked quickly.
- Perfect for festivity: The depth and richness of this lamb karahi dish make it a go-to menu choice for special occasions. Be it Eid celebrations or grand weddings. This dish is often a cherished spot in the whole food spread.
- A complete, comforting meal: Paired with its velvety, thick gravy, this curry and a fresh naan are a match made in culinary heaven, promising a fulfilling and heartwarming meal.
- Lamb Shoulder: The lamb shoulder has a good proportion of lean meat, bone, and fat, making it a perfect choice for this recipe. And we know that bones can enhance the flavor of the dish.
- Chopped Tinned Tomatoes: Tomatoes are the taste builders of this dish. They offer a tanginess to the dish and add depth to the gravy.
- Brown Onion: Brown onion adds a savory flavor to the dish. They add a subtle sweetness that makes the sauce stand out. In short, they balance the tanginess of the tomatoes.
- Minced Garlic: Garlic is a staple in Pakistani dishes. It adds a depth of savory flavor to the dish.
- Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: Kashmiri red chili is known for its beautiful bright red color. The best thing about this particular chili is its mild heat. Thus, it doesn’t overpower the dish with heat and ensures you enjoy flavors in every bite.
- Cooking Oil and/or Ghee: Use any neutral cooking oil such as canola, sunflower, or light olive oil. You can also use or add ghee if you like. As an addition, 1-2 tablespoons of ghee will be enough.
- Natural Yogurt: Yogurt aids in making the gravy rich and creamy. Traditionally, it adds tanginess to the dish. To achieve that authentic flavor, choose Asian yogurt from an Indian or Pakistani shop. If you can’t find it, use the locally packed yogurt, which won’t give the sharp tang.
- Coarse Black Pepper: Black pepper adds a peppery heat to the dish, complementing the other spices perfectly.
- Garam Masala: It is the heart and soul of Indian/ Pakistani cuisine. Garam masala adds a warm flavor and aroma to the dish.
- Ground Coriander: Coriander has a refreshing fragrance with a slightly lemony flavor.
- Green Chilies: No karahi is complete without green chilies. They add heat and zing to the dish. You can skip adding green chilies if you don’t want spicy karahi. Still, I recommend you use them for the authentic experience.
- Green Coriander/Cilantro: Fresh green coriander or cilantro is the perfect garnish to finish this dish. They add color and freshness to the final product.
- Chopping Board: It is the most essential kitchen equipment when you have to chop and cut ingredients.
- Kitchen Knife: It is crucial to ensure everything is finely diced and chopped.
- Karahi/Kadhai: Since the dish gets its name from this equipment, it is essential for this recipe. It is a deep frying pan with a lid.
- Wooden Slotted Spoon: A wooden spoon is Perfect for easy stirring and ensuring even cooking.
How To Make Lamb Karahi
Place the lamb meat, tomatoes, chopped onion, minced garlic, a pinch of salt, and Kashmiri red chili powder in a karahi.
Add a cup of water to the mixture, then set the heat to medium and cover with a lid. Leave it to cook.
As the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, allowing the meat to simmer until it becomes tender and all the juice from the tomatoes and essence has evaporated.
Be patient, as it will take some time. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from getting burned.
As the curry simmers, mash the tomatoes using a wooden spoon for a smoother gravy. Once the liquid evaporates, add oil or ghee and mix well. Turn up the heat and let it cook for another minute or two.
Add the yogurt, coarse black pepper, garam masala, ground coriander, and chopped green chilies. Mix all these ingredients into the meat mixture and cover it with a lid. Allow it to simmer for 3 minutes or until you notice the oil separating from the edges, which indicates that the curry is ready. To finish, garnish lamb curry with freshly chopped fresh coriander and enjoy!
- Opt for the leg of lamb if you don’t have lamb shoulder.
- You can use canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. For this recipe, use three medium-sized ones and chop them finely.
- Use neutral cooking oil such as canola, sunflower, or light olive oil. Add one or two tablespoons of ghee to go more traditional.
- If you want a dairy-free option, you can use a dairy-free yogurt. However, the flavor may alter.
- You can use Asian red chili powder or cayenne pepper powder instead of Kashmiri red chili powder.
- Chicken karahi: If you don’t want lamb, use chicken instead. Chicken karahi is the next most popular thing apart from mutton karahi, and it also cooks faster.
- Creamy lamb karahi: If you want an ultra-rich mutton karahi, add two tablespoons of heavy cream for 5 minutes before turning off the heat.
- Potatoes: If you still need vegetables in your dish, add potatoes. It won’t turn your dish into Aloo gosht, but it can be an addition, especially when craving potatoes.
- To Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat: Warm up on a stovetop over medium heat. Add a splash of water beforehand. You can also reheat the curry in a microwave.
- To Freeze: Store in freezer-safe containers for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once the karahi is thawed, consume it within three days and do not refreeze it.
- Naan/roti: Lamb karahi is perfect with naan. Or, you can serve it with roti as well. Whatever you do, it will taste just perfect.
- Raita: Serving zeera or mint raita will add extra flavor to your dish, making it taste even better.
- Rice: You can also serve it with rice. The rich gravy poured over rice will make a great combination.
What if I don’t have a karahi?
Although a karahi works best for this recipe, you can use any deep pot/frying pan or a wok.
Which part of mutton is best for karahi?
For the best flavor, use either shoulder or leg meat cut. You can also use rib cut as well.
How do I know when my lamb is cooked?
The lamb pieces should be tender, and the oil should separate on the sides of the gravy.
Making Lamb Karahi is a flavorful experience, introducing you to the rich traditions of Pakistani cooking. Whether you’re trying it for the first time or the hundredth, this dish never ceases to impress. It is simple, tasteful, and a hearty meal for every occasion.
Lamb karahi recipe
- Chopping board
- Kitchen knife
- Karahi/ kadhai with lid, or deep frying pan with lid
- Wooden slotted spoon
- 1.3 pounds lamb shoulder cut in chunks.
- 1 cup chopped tinned tomatoes
- 1 brown onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
- ⅓ cup cooking oil or ghee
- ½ cup natural yogurt lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ ground coriander
- 2-3 green chilies optional
- Green coriander/ cilantro optional
- Place the lamb meat, tomatoes, chopped onion, minced garlic, salt, and Kashmiri red chili powder in a karahi/ kadhai or deep frying pan.
- Add 1 cup of water to the lamb and stir around. Turn on the heat to medium and start cooking with the lid on.
- When the liquid reaches boiling point, turn the heat down and cook at low heat until the meat is tender and all the liquid from the tomatoes and the meat has evaporated. Keep checking and stirring to ensure it is not burned at the bottom.
- At the same time, try mashing the tomatoes so the gravy will be smooth without big lumps.
- Once the juice has almost gone, stir the oil or ghee. Turn the heat up again, and let it cook for a minute or two.
- Stir the yogurt into the meat and add coarse black pepper, garam masala, coriander, and green chilies. Stir it and put the lid on to continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until the oil separates from the edges.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro.
- Apart from lamb shoulder, you can also use leg of lamb. Cut it into 2-3 inches cubes of meat.
- Chopped tinned tomatoes can be substituted with fresh tomatoes. You can use 3 medium tomatoes and chop them into small pieces for this recipe.
- Any neutral cooking oil, such as vegetable, sunflower, or canola, is a good option. If you like a richer taste of your lamb karahi, use ghee instead.
- Make sure the yogurt is natural. If possible, get the Asian yogurt from an Indian/ Pakistani shop because this yogurt has a sharper tang compared to Western yogurt.
- You can use shop-bought garam masala, or you can use homemade garam masala instead.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.