Javanese Lamb Curry (by Ghillie Basan)

Javanese Lamb Curry (by Ghillie Basan)









Making this recipe


  • 2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 25g/1oz galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 25g/1oz fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed and chopped
  • 2-3 candlenuts, finely ground
  • 1-2 tablespoons palm, coconut or groundnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • half a teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • half a teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2-3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, halved and bruised
  • 700g/1lb 9oz boneless shoulder or leg of lamb, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
  • 200ml/7fl oz water
  • a bunch fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

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This recipe is from internationally acclaimed cook and food writer Ghillie Basan who has very kindly allowed us to share this with you on our website. As well as the author of numerous cookery books, Ghillie runs innovative and inspiring, hands-on cookery workshops from where she lives in a remote outpost of the Scottish highlands – find out more about Ghillie, her books and workshops at: http://www.ghilliebasan.com

Slow-cooked with lots of pungent spices, this curry of tender lamb, mutton or goat meat is customarily served with rice and a pickle or chutney.

First make the spice paste. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the shallots, garlic, chillies, galangal, turmeric and lemongrass to a paste. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and stir in the paste, until fragrant and beginning to colour. Add the shrimp paste and palm sugar and continue to stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until the paste has deepened in colour, but not too dark.

Heat the oil in heavy-based pot. Stir in the coriander and cumin seeds, along with the nutmeg and black pepper, then add the spice paste and lemongrass. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is dark and fragrant.

Toss in the lamb, making sure it is well-coated and pour in the coconut milk and water. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 3 hours, until the meat is very tender (check the meat from time to time and top up the water if it gets a little dry).

Toss some of the coriander into the curry, season it with salt and pepper and tip it into a serving dish. Sprinkle the rest of the coriander over the top and serve with rice and sliced chillies on the side.

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