Lamb Varuval Curry

Lamb Varuval Curry

This is an authentic, delicious lamb curry which has a unique flavour.  The texture is that of a drier curry and originates from Southern India in the state of Tamil Nadu.


  • 900g lamb or mutton leg or shoulder, fat removed and cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons oil
  • 2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • Small handful fresh or dried curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon prepared ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1½ teaspoons garam masala
  • 1½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground paprika
  • Large handful freshly chopped coriander


  1. In a large bowl add the lamb or mutton and ½ teaspoon ground turmeric. Season well.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick or griddle pan over moderate heat and add the onions.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft.  Add the cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom, fennel and cloves.  Stir gently and cook for a few seconds.
  3. Add the curry leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger paste.  Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the tomato, lamb or mutton and cook for 5-10 minutes, coating the meat in the spice mix.  Add 200ml water, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 3-3½ hours for lamb or 3½-4½ hours for mutton.  Alternatively, transfer to a slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours on LOW or 4-6 hours on HIGH.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in a separate non-stick frying pan and add garam masala, curry powder, paprika and the remaining ground turmeric and heat for 1 minute or until the aromatic. Stir the spices into the lamb or mutton mix.  Cover and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes in the pan or slow cooker.
  6. Garnish with the fresh coriander and serve with basmati rice, naan bread and a selection of Indian accompaniments.