Kolhapuri mutton curry

Kolhapuri mutton curry

I Love India
Martin Poole

Kolhapuri dishes are known to be spicy but deeply flavourful. Their spice blends are softer and more fragrant than garam masala and – once you have a jar – you don’t really need a lot of other spices. The blend here does have a fair number of ingredients in it, but it takes under 5 minutes to do from beginning to end, will keep well for future use and goes with chicken, meat, and even some meaty vegetables. If you are missing a couple of the ingredients, don’t worry, it will still be fine. If you have some good-quality garam masala, you can even leave out the first 7 ingredients. I make this dish with mutton, which adds more flavour than lamb, but you can use lamb instead. The flavours are incredible whichever meat you use. Serve with Indian breads or Simple, Perfect Rice.


Quantity Ingredient

For the Kohlapuri masala (makes 10–11 tbsp in total)

Quantity Ingredient
3 cloves
1 star anise
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1cm cinnamon stick
2-3 dried chillies, (optional)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
small pinch fenugreek seeds
1 rounded tablespoon poppy seeds
1 rounded tablespoon sesame seeds
4 tablespoons desiccated coconut

For the curry

Quantity Ingredient
20g root ginger, (peeled weight), roughly chopped
8 large garlic cloves
2 onions, 1⁄2 quartered, 11⁄2 thinly sliced
25g coriander, plus a good handful to serve
3/4 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder, (optional, for colour)
7-8 tablespoons kohlapuri masala, (see above) or to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
700g diced mutton or lamb, with some bones if possible
4-5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped


  1. Set a wok or small frying pan over a medium-low heat. Pour in the first six ingredients for the masala and stir-fry over a low heat for 20 seconds. Add the coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds and continue until they are toasted too, another 1–2 minutes. Pour straight into your spice grinder. Then add the poppy and sesame seeds and the coconut and dry-roast until golden. Add to the other spices and grind until it is all a fine powder. Store in an airtight container. This will keep for a month or more, in a dark, airtight place.
  2. Blend together the ginger, garlic, the quartered onion, the 25g of coriander, salt, chilli, 3 tbsp of the Kohlapuri masala and the turmeric until smooth. Add a little water if necessary to help the blades turn. Add to the meat and marinate for as long as possible, ideally overnight in the fridge, but you can continue without as well.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Sauté the sliced onions with a little salt until well coloured on the edges; I like to do this over high-ish heat. Add the meat with its marinade along with the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then cover, and cook until all the water has dried up, around 45 minutes over a medium heat. Keep giving the pot the occasional stir.
  4. Now increase the heat and stir-fry the meat in the thickened masala paste, to help intensify the flavours, for 3–4 minutes. Stir in another 3½ tbsp of the Kohlapuri masala and enough water to cover the meat. Return to the boil and cook gently until the meat is soft, anything from another 15–20 minutes for lamb, and a little longer for mutton. Splash in some more water if necessary as it cooks down.
  5. Once done, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more heat (chilli powder) and the remaining Kohlapuri masala, if you like. I like this dish with a little sauce to mop up with my bread, so add enough boiling water accordingly, or you can keep it as a drier curry. Serve sprinkled with coriander.
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