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Three-hour lamb and chickpea curry

Yoghurt and buttermilk provide a creamy finish and welcome tang to this hearty curry.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 45 mins cooking plus soaking, marinating
  • Serves 6
  • Print
Buttermilk and yoghurt thicken and add a rich finish to this curry, yet also counteract the heaviness of the lamb. Look for properly cultured buttermilk without additives or thickeners for the best flavour; Pepe Saya, for example. This curry also works well with large cuts of chicken on the bone. Begin the recipe a day ahead to soak the chickpeas and marinate the lamb.


  • 1.2 kg boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • 200 gm (¾ cup) plain yoghurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 20 gm (4cm piece) ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp (heaped) ground chilli
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 3 fresh curry leaf sprigs, plus 1 extra sprig fried in oil to serve
  • 600 ml buttermilk
  • 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 130 gm dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
  • 1 small bunch of kale or silverbeet, leaves torn
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped coriander
  • Warmed roti, lime cheeks, and yoghurt mixed with cucumber and finely chopped mint (optional), to serve


  • 1
    Combine lamb, yoghurt, garlic and ginger in a non-reactive container, season to taste with salt and a good grind of black pepper, mix well and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  • 2
    Heat oil in a large casserole or wok over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, pound coriander and cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Add to casserole with remaining spices, stir until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then add lamb, stirring and turning to coat (1-2 minutes). Add curry leaves, buttermilk and stock, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered for 2 hours. Add chickpeas and cook, uncovered, until softened and lamb is very tender (30-40 minutes). Transfer lamb to a bowl and strain sauce through a sieve, reserving solids.
  • 3
    Return sauce to casserole, place over high heat and cook, skimming occasionally, until reduced by two-thirds (30 minutes). Add kale and coriander and return lamb and reserved solids to casserole. Serve with curry leaves, roti and cucumber-mint yoghurt.


Drink suggestion: Yeasty saison ale. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.