All day, while latched to my computer on Zoom calls, I could smell the delicious aroma of my lamb korma, simmering away in the slow cooker (if you don’t have one it cooks in the oven just as well). Korma is a gentle curry from North India, often made with nuts and full fat yoghurt. My recipe is made with coconut milk instead. I think it’s worth making it with a full panoply of fresh whole spices as you get a depth of sweet, gentle flavour that none of those commercially available korma pastes can match.
If you don’t have the whole versions of the spices and no grinder or mortar and pestle, most of these spices are available in ground form.
5cm stick of cinnamon or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cloves or ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
6 cardamom pods or ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon coriander seeds or ½ teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons cumin seeds or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 peppercorns or ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 dried curry leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 large onion
Oil for frying
2 fat garlic cloves, finely sliced
5cm peeled grated fresh ginger
350g lean lamb chunks
1 dessertspoon tomato puree
2 dessertspoons coconut milk
6 small well flavoured tomatoes
Tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
Prepare the spices first by putting them all into a spice grinder if you have one, reducing them to a fine powder, or if not, pounding them in a mortar and pestle, the traditional way. Sweat the sliced onion in a little oil for 5 minutes until it begins to colour. Add the sliced garlic and grated ginger and let it cook for about a minute then add all the finely-ground spices and fry gently for another minute. Transfer all of the contents of the pan to the slow cooker or to a casserole dish if you are using the oven. Don’t wash the pan. Raise the heat and sear the lamb chunks until they are browned all over adding a little more oil if you need to. Add the lamb to the slow cooker pan along with the puree, coconut milk and 100ml of water. Place a piece of doubled baking parchment or foil to sit on top of the meat then add the lid. Cook on low for 3 hours then check if the meat is nearly tender. At this point add the skinned tomatoes, the drained chickpeas and the salt and let it cook for another hour. If you are using the oven, let the meat cook in a tightly lidded casserole at 150 C for 2 hours, then add the tomatoes, chickpeas and salt as above, letting it resume cooking for another 30 minutes or until the meat is tender.
Serve with steamed green beans and plain basmati rice.