Inspired by my recent trip to Sri Lanka, I decided to try for a more "authentic" flavour, as opposed to the classic BIR flavour, while keeping the convenience of the BIR base [in this case an Edwards base]. We don't pre-cook for this case: we use lamb shoulder and stew for a long time. This ends up as a rather wet curry, due to the addition of water. As a result it goes well with rice.

The end flavour is remarkably different to the traditional BIR style indulged here before: the lamb fat blends beautifully with the mellow coconut to produce a lovely counterbalance to the heat from the spices. It's a comforting dish that somehow reminds me of childhood.

Summary and pictures:

First, construct the spice paste, smash it with a hand blender, and fry it up with the base sauce.

Roughly dice the lamb shoulder. Add to the pot and stew, covered, for 60-90 minutes.

Full recipe:

This is a blend of a Dhillon recipe with a Panjabi recipe from Tamil Nadu. It serves 6 so is rather large. Bear in mind that the Dhillon base ends up far more 'wet' and watery than other bases can be. I essentially ceiling'd it at 400 for this recipe because that's a very large amount of curry base. A lot of water is used during the cooking so the result should still be very stewy.

As the classic garam masala contains cinnamon, cloves and black pepper, we allow the garam masala to do the 'hot' spicing for this version, simplifying the spice and coconut mix. We don't use the traditional Edwards or Dhillon spicings, as the aim is to create something different while preserving the basic BIR method. As the Edwards base is roughly twice as concentrated as the Dhillon base, we just use the equivalent for one 'portion' from Edwards and double it. The meat doesn't get pre-cooked in this case, it's stewed in the pot.

  • 5tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400ml curry base (Edwards)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2tsp ginger paste
  • 2tsp garlic paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 60g creamed coconut
  • 1lb stewing lamb (diced shoulder or leg)
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp tomato puree

Extra spices:

  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 3tsp paprika
  • 2tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp poppy seeds (optional)
  • 1/2tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp chilli powder [Dhillon]

Process creamed coconut in a blender with ginger and garlic pastes, plus the extra spices, to form a paste, adding water if necessary.

Heat oil. Add half the curry base, stirring, heating it through. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add spice paste and tomato puree and fry for a few minutes. Add the remaining base. Fry for 15 minutes, adding a further 3tbsp of water over this period.

Add meat and saute for 5 minutes over a moderate heat. Add the tomatoes and saute for a further 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Add 800ml of warm water and cook, covered, until the meat is done (about 50-60 minutes). Then add the coconut milk, stir in the garam masala, and simmer for a few minutes before serving.