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Lamb Chettinad

Lamb Chettinad has a bold flavor thanks to the tender lamb simmered in a rich curry seasoned with freshly ground spices, curry leaves, and aromatics. All you need is fresh naan or roti to complete the meal.

Lamb Chettinad in a serving bowl.

What is Lamb Chettinad?

The lamb curry recipe is a famous South Indian dish from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. The curry is known for its bold spices and rich flavor, and it typically features tender lamb simmered in a well-spiced gravy made with tomatoes, onions, aromatics and freshly ground whole spices. Serve the flavorful mutton stew with basmati rice, roti, or naan.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chettinad Masala: Process the dry whole spices like green cardamom, black cloves, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds with dried red chiles, grated coconut, and whole cashews into a fine powder to deepen the flavor of the curry.
  • GheeGhee is a staple in Indian cuisine and develops a nutty base for the dish. 
  • Aromatics: Temper a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and mustard seeds in oil to enhance the flavor.
  • Onions: I use yellow onions, but you can also use shallots.
  • Garlic: Use three fresh garlic cloves.
  • Ginger: I love how the freshly minced ginger cooks alongside the lamb.
  • Curry Leaves: Curry leaves add so much flavor, and the smell is so good! We have a few curry trees in our backyard, so I get to pluck the leaves straight from the tree, but you can find them in local Indian grocery stores.
  • Tomatoes: Puree the fresh tomatoes in a blender or food processor before adding them to reduce the cooking time. In a pinch, include a ½ can of diced tomatoes or chop the fresh tomatoes and sweat them down over low heat. However, the process may increase the cooking time.
  • Spices: Season the curry with hot red chili powder (Kashmiri chili powder), turmeric powder, and salt.
  • Mutton: Use tender young cuts of bone-in lamb for this lamb recipe. Ask the butcher to cut the meat into 1-inch pieces. You can use boneless lamb, but it won’t have the same flavor.
  • Cilantro: Finish the lamb Chettinad with chopped cilantro.

Additions and Substitutions

  • Replace the lamb with goat meat or bone-in chicken thighs and legs.
  • Use a ready-made ginger garlic paste instead of fresh ginger and garlic to reduce the prep time.

How to Make Lamb Chettinad

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Dry roast the spices for the Chettinad masala until they turn golden brown.

Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a spice grinder in batches to process into a fine coconut paste. Set it aside.

Whole spices, cashews, and coconut toasting in a pan.

Step 2: Warm ghee in the Instant Pot in saute mode. Add the cinnamon stick, green chiles, bay leaves, and mustard seeds. Saute until the ingredients sputter.

Aromatics warming in Instant Pot.

Step 3: Add the onions to the pot and cook until golden brown, for about 15 minutes. Then, stir in the garlic, ginger, and curry leaves. Cook for another minute.

Onions browning in Instant Pot.

Step 4: Deglaze the Instant Pot with pureed tomatoes and season with hot red chili powder, turmeric, and salt.

Ground spices added to cooked onions.

Step 5: Add the water and nestle the lamb meat into the pot. Secure the Instant Pot lid and cook on manual high pressure for 15-30 minutes with a 10-minute natural release.

Lamb cooking in Instant Pot.

Step 6: Remove the lid and stir in the reserved Chettinad spices. Cover with the lid, but do not secure. Simmer for 15 -20 minutes in saute mode until the gravy reduces and the ghee separates.

Lamb Chettinad cooking in Instant Pot.
Lamb Chettinad in a serving bowl.

Expert Tips

  • If you prefer Chettinad mutton with more curry, increase the number of onions and tomatoes. Similarly, if you enjoy a thicker stew, reduce the amount of onions and tomatoes in the recipe.
  • Like aloo keema, this dish involves a cooking process called bhuna (an Urdu word for fried) that calls for cooking over high heat until the ghee or oil separates. This technique may not be effective for goat or lamb, as they require a longer cooking time to become tender. That is why I pressure-cook the goat first, followed by a low-heat braise on saute mode to help the ingredients combine and reduce the amount of liquid in the Instant Pot until you have a thick curry. 

If you enjoy this meal, try one of these Indian recipes!  

Lamb Chettinad in a serving bowl.

Serving Suggestions

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store the leftover lamb curry in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: Let the dish cool completely, and transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Lamb Chettinad freezes for up to 2-3 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the mutton curry in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat: Warm the leftovers on the stovetop, and prepare your rice and naan.

More Curry Recipes:

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Lamb Chettinad in a serving bowl.

Lamb Chettinad

Tressa Jamil
Lamb Chettinad curry boasts a bold flavor. Tender, succulent lamb simmers in a well-spiced curry you can enjoy with fresh naan. 
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 418 kcal
Ingredients
  
For the Chettinad Masala:
For the Mutton Gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 green peppers, slit lengthwise
  • 1 – inch cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ – inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1-2 medium tomato, pureed
  • 1 tablespoons hot red chili powder or Kashmiri chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups water
  • pounds mutton, bone-in, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
 
  • Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Dry roast the spices for the Chettinad masala until they turn golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a spice grinder in batches to process into a fine coconut paste. Set it aside.
  • Warm ghee in the Instant Pot in saute mode. Add the cinnamon stick, green chiles, bay leaves, and mustard seeds. Saute until the ingredients sputter.
  • Add the onions to the pot and cook until golden brown, for about 15 minutes. Then, stir in the garlic, ginger, and curry leaves. Cook for another minute.
  • Deglaze the Instant Pot with pureed tomatoes and season with hot red chili powder, turmeric, and salt.
  • Add the water and nestle the lamb meat into the pot. Secure the Instant Pot lid and cook on manual high pressure for 15-30 minutes with a 10-minute natural release.
  • Remove the lid and stir in the reserved Chettinad spices. Cover with the lid, but do not secure. Simmer for 15 -20 minutes in saute mode until the gravy reduces and the ghee separates.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • If you prefer Chettinad mutton with more curry, increase the number of onions and tomatoes. Similarly, if you enjoy a thicker stew, reduce the amount of onions and tomatoes in the recipe.
  • Like aloo keema, this dish involves a cooking process called bhuna (an Urdu word for fried) that calls for cooking over high heat until the ghee or oil separates. This technique may not be effective for goat or lamb, as they require a longer cooking time to become tender. That is why I pressure-cook the goat first, followed by a low-heat braise on saute mode to help the ingredients combine and reduce the amount of liquid in the Instant Pot until you have a thick curry. 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 418 kcal | Carbohydrates: 8 g | Protein: 20 g | Fat: 34 g | Saturated Fat: 16 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13 g | Cholesterol: 96 mg | Sodium: 680 mg | Potassium: 452 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 3 g | Vitamin A: 731 IU | Vitamin C: 34 mg | Calcium: 64 mg | Iron: 3 mg
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