Learning from Lynda – Lamb and Aubergine Curry.

Lamb and Aubergine Curry ingredientsI like to have a plan, have all my ingredients lined up and get things done in pretty military fashion. At lest, that’s the aspiration. Sadly, often, the reality involves opening the press during the cooking, shouting some profanity at the empty space and then driving in a panic to the supermarket to get some essential spice or aromatic. This time, it needed to be different. I have been to cookery school (Yes, I have!). I have learned from the experts. I simply have to be able to prepare a Lamb and Aubergine Curry without the use of the car. 

I mentioned above that I had been to cookery school. Well, I have and I haven’t. The lovely Lynda Booth who runs the Dublin Cookery School very generously hosted an evening for a bunch of ruly (opposite of unruly) food bloggers. Linda cooks some delicious Indian food. She also has an easy, seemingly instinctive approach to spice blending. This is something I had to emulate. So I decided to prepare a curry using only ‘feel’ on the ingredient quantities. As a result, my list looks like this:


  • 1.25 kilos (2.5 lbs) of lamb meat (neck or shoulder are fine)
  • 3 onions
  • 3 aubergines
  • 3 single bulb garlics (or a bulb of regular).
  • 5 cm (2″) of ginger
  • 100 grammes or so (a bag) of spinach
  • half a litre (1 pint) of goat’s yoghurt
  • 500 gms (1lb) of chickpeas
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 3 bay leafs
  • 3 teaspoons of fennel seeds
  • 1.5 teaspoons of each: mace, cardamom (after taking out of pods), mustard seed, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, chili powder and turmeric

Side note on process: I did not follow any recipe. I just did what seemed right at each stage of the cooking. It worked, so now it is a recipe! 

Brown the lamb meat in a casserole (Dutch oven).

Getting a bit of brown going lays down the first layer of flavour in this dish.

Getting a bit of brown going lays down the first layer of flavour in this dish.

Slice the onions, garlic and ginger. Turn your oven on to 200ºC (390ºF).

Yes, that's a lot of garlic. Trust me, it adds lovely flavour.

Yes, that’s a lot of garlic. Trust me, it adds lovely flavour.

When the meat is browned, remove and add the onions, Stir for a few minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. This prevents the danger of the garlic and ginger burning and making the dish bitter.

Use the onions to get those nice brown lamb bits off the bottom of the pan.

Use the onions to get those nice brown lamb bits off the bottom of the pan.

While this is going on, dry fry the cumin and fennel seeds until they are aromatic.

A bit of Ying and Yang going on here. Certainly the spices are in balance.

A bit of Ying and Yang going on here. Certainly the spices are in balance.

Add all the spices that need grinding to the mortar and apply the pestle until they are ground reasonably fine.

Where possible, grind your own spices. There is a huge flavour reward.

Where possible, grind your own spices. There is a huge flavour reward.

Don’t overdo it. It’s nice to have little bits of pepper and seed in the dish.

When the onions have softened, add back the meat and any juices. Add the spices and stir to incorporate keep stirring for a good 5 minutes while the spices infuse the meat.

Proof that I added the spices. That turmeric leaves a trail...

Proof that I added the spices. That turmeric leaves a trail…

Then add the tomatoes.

The flavour layers are really starting t happen now.

The flavour layers are really starting t happen now.

Add the yoghurt and stir to incorporate. Next slice and add the aubergine. Stir to incorporate.

At this stage, you know it's going to be really tasty.

At this stage, you know it’s going to be really tasty.

Pop this, covered, into the heated oven. Leave it there for an hour. Then remove the lid and stir in both the chickpeas and the spinach. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes. Assemble your diners and serve straight from the pot with Basmati rice and a nice bit of chutney on the side.

Lamb and Aubergine Curry (1 of 1)

My small tribute to Lynda Booth and her approach to Indian cookery.

I really enjoyed this. It’s not some generations-old ‘authentic’ Indian recipe. I thought about flavour and I used a balance of ingredients that just seemed to be right. The result was fantastic. The inspiration came from my night in cookery school. Thanks Lynda!

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Latest comments
  • Hi Conor,

    The dish looks and sounds delicious, lamb is a favourite of mine but I’m just wondering did the lamb neck cost much? I went to make a lamb Rogan josh few weeks back and the butcher was quoting nearly €25…would that be about right? Very pricey curry if it is!

    Kind regards


    • Hi Carmel,
      Get a new butcher. I got my hands on 1.25 kilos of lamb pieces. There is all sorts in there. If you deal with a good butcher, they will have decent pieces available and, unless you plan to feed the street, you should not be paying the price of a leg of lamb for some off-cuts. I can’t remember the exact price but, let reason prevail. I like the idea of a Rogan Josh. Another one for the list…

  • That last picture looks delicious – screen-lickingly so. I think the intuitive approach to curry cooking is the way to go, especially, but not exclusively, if you don’t hail from a long line of Indian mothers! I’m the latter, my mother’s mother was an awful cook, and thus my mother had to use some originality in teaching herself how to cook. That remained with me, so now some of my curries, whilst not unrecognisable, are pretty different to hers. I don’t think she’d mind. As long as it tastes damn good!

    • Thank you Karinna,
      I come from a long line of Irish people. So, I can’t claim any heritage points at all. I have had to learn it all from scratch. It’s a really interesting journey that will go on until my taste buds give out.

  • Gorgeous curry – Conor. Well spiced!

    • Thanks Nick,
      I know that you know your spices. I’ve been drooling at some of the wonderful concoctions over on Frugal Feeding.

      • You’re too kind, Conor ;). Good to see your cycling prep forging on ahead.

        • Yes. I need to think about getting some distance in. Climbing is one thing but there’s no substitute for long spins.

          • I’m trying to get my endurance from last year back; I have some really long rides coming up. 140 this coming weekend (the Bristol Ball Buster), followed by 140 on Good Friday and 140 the week after. Miles that is ;). I’m a little tentative at the moment about the latter two.

          • Horse of a man!

          • Tired horse*

  • That looks delicious 🙂

    • Thanks MD,
      I was proud of both my opening and closing shots on this one.

  • I’ve often thought there was some black magic involved in curries. Once eaten, the aroma of curry if you pass it in the street is enough to get the taste buds going and a serious craving started up. I reckon this one would require the handing out of bibs before dishing up, to deal with the drooling problem that would ensue…

  • Welcome back, Conor – where have you been? Love the sound (and the pictures) of your curry and will most certainly try out this recipe this week 🙂 Carina

    • Hi Carina,
      I’ve been here doing less flavoursome stuff! I should really do more of this type of cooking. It’s very satisfying and great fun.

  • Stunning. Some of the best recipes are done by feel and intuition.

    • Hi Virginia,
      I’ve done some pretty awful ones too using the same method.

  • Looks very tasty and very well presented Conor. Great to meet you in person and I’m glad you enjoyed the food bloggers evening.



    • Hi Lynda, My apologies for misspelling your name in my tweet. Thanks so much for the evening. It was a real education.

  • Following your gut instincts (no pun or insult intended) is always a great way to cook. The curry looks superb.

    • Thanks Linda,
      I really enjoyed this one. I have had my share of gut-wrenching results too. Not every idea is a good idea.

  • Conor, this looks like a perfect recipe for one of my minor hobbies, which I like to call “Buy 15 ingredients, 3 of which you don’t know you already have and only one of which you will ever use again, with the rest henceforth staring at you from your cupboard,silently admonishing you for being one of those people”. Still doesn’t put me off though, because it looks delicious.

    • The inspiration (apart from Lynda, of course) was a Lidl special offer on Aubergines. Then I had to come up with something while crossing the road to go to the butcher. All else was in the press, thanks be to goodness.

  • Hi Conor, you make everything sound and look delicious. I suppose those chickpeas are already cooked? Would be nice to do a sous-vide version 🙂

    • They were indeed. Straight out of tins. Though, they were ‘Organic’. Sous vide could be great fun for really flavoursome stuff like this. I must put my thinking cap on….

  • That first mise-en-place pic is a thing of great beauty. 🙂 Recipe sounds good, too.

    • Thanks Lisa,
      In truth, that all on the kitchen floor, near the door so I could get the light, me on a stool leaning very dangerously, trying to get the shot before falling on top of it all. Your descriptive text is far more elegant than my reality.

      • Oh, hush. Pointing out the smoke and wires makes all the magic go away. 😉 I post the occasional recipe as well, but despair of ever taking such mouth-watering food shots. My photographic talents lie elsewhere, so I leave the food porn to the pros!

  • I don’t think that it’s possible to have too much garlic. Looks delicious.

    • Thanks Michelle. Lots is always nearly enough.

  • After some three decades of cooking ‘curries’ from right around Asia, S Africa and now Down under, I still measure!!! Talking of insecurity!!!! But just love the look of this and I shall copy and I shall measure the first time around!! Methinks with a boned shoulder: won’t have to see the bank manager ere I shop 🙂 !!

    • Boned shoulder would be excellent Eha. The measuring is optional.

  • Haven’t made an eggplant dish in ages! You inspired me last week to do a cabbage dish, the last of which we ate yesterday. Eyed eggplants when I went to get the cabbage but couldn’t think of a meal that the little one would like. You’ve inspired me once again! This looks awesome… Best wishes…

  • Absolutely wonderful recipe…..I can see no reason why one couldn’t leave out the lamb ( vegetarian in the house) …so I shall try this.

  • Looks gorgeous Conor! I wonder if you are still trying to get that tumeric stain out of the board 😉

  • Reblogged this on Smart Food Solutions.

  • Lynda has taught you well my friend 🙂

    • …and just before I go I would like to say that lamb neck chops are my favourite piece of lamb for a curry. Don’t see them used very often though…

    • That she did. It was pretty delicious.

  • This is very inspiring. I love making curries too. Can’t enough of these spices. Even opening the cupboard where I keep my spices is an aromatic treat! I was just eyeing the eggplant at the market the other day. I’m going to make your recipe.

    • Excellent. Please post it too. I’d love to see your interpretation of my concoction.

  • Looks dam good Conor, I worked with an Indian Chef for about 12 months when I started out in a professional kitchen and the one thing I learned in that time was spice alchemy its burned into my brain!

    • I’m feeling my way with it Rory. Loving it!

      • The key is also looking after your spice….cool and dark storage and little and often in terms of buying

        • Indeed. I keep mine in a dark cupboard in the coolest room in the house.

  • I’m a bit behind on my readerboard Conor. Dang, my family won’t venture anywhere near curry or eggplant. I love both! (Although I have a Keema ground beef curry dish I have made and they like, but it’s pretty mild.) That one is next on my list to make. Both husband and daughter are out of town for spring break, though, and I bought me some chicken livers to fry up Texas-style while they are gone! They won’t even let me cook it in the house they hate the smell so much, lol!~

  • This sounds amazing. So many of my favorite ingredients in one place! I am definitely going to make this if I can ever get my hands on some reasonably priced lamb meat! You’re an inspiration Conor! 😀

  • I wonder – do they do an Ireland Masterchef? You could have a go….

    • They do. I wouldn’t. I would be the sad git that makes a mess of it and goes out in the first round.

  • This looks amazing. I love lamb and i love the spices you use. Pics are gorgeous as always and it’s just so obvious the care you put into each step. Hope you’re well!

    • Hi Amanda,
      I was happy with it. The aubergines worked really well with the lamb.

  • That was a seriously great night! Nice to see the dishes getting used! 🙂

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