Mild Mannered Lamb and Aubergine Curry With A Flavour Hit

lamb-and-aubergene-curry-16-of-16“I’m a mild-mannered man.” Or so said one of my Holy Ghost Father teachers before knocking seven levels of hell out of us with a stiff black leather.  Primary school education back in 1960’s Ireland was not what it is today. I well remember a dozen of us being punished for cycling in the yard after school. The punishment was “six of  the best”, with the leather, on each hand. I was moved for my secondary education to the Christian Brothers in Monkstown. That is another oxymoronic story altogether and probably has no place here, not today anyway. So, with mild manners in mind, here’s a delicious recipe for Mild Lamb and Aubergine Curry. Just like that Holy Ghost father, it too has the appearance of mildness yet packs a bit of a punch.

The key to developing a good flavour hit in a curry is to build layers of flavour. It is not about heat. Many of the hot curry brigade disguise poor method behind an excess of chili heat. So often, one sees ingredients thrown into recipes willy-nilly with no thought to the reason for them being there, except to make one sweat (as we young ‘uns sweated waiting for the beating by the man of God).

The ingredients list struck me (there’s a joke in there) as being pretty similar to a lamb curry I cooked a couple of years ago. That recipe has a bit more heat and a very different flavour profile. Proof, if one needs it that there are as many curry recipes as one has had hot dinners. There is a link to that post here, if you are interested.

Slightly out of focus. I was crying from the beating at the time.

Slightly out of focus. I was crying from the beating at the time.

Ingredients for Mild Lamb and Aubergine Curry

  • 1 kilo of lamb pieces (neck, ideally)
  • Half a kilo of minced lamb
  • 2 chilis
  • 2 aubergines
  • 3 red onions
  • Half a litre of good chicken stock
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of large sultanas
  • 1 tin of bijoux vert lentils
  • 1 tin of adzuki beans
  • 1 tablespoon of garam marsala 
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of cardamom pods
  • 100 grammes of spinach

Despite the lengthy ingredients list, this recipe is more about timing than any particular culinary skill. The first thing to do is to add a little oil to a casserole dish and brown the lamb in batches.

Adding a bit of colour to the meat. This is the initial layer of flavour.

Adding a bit of colour to the meat. This is the initial layer of flavour.

While the meat is browning, slice the onions into eights. Slice the aubergines and place them on a wire rack. Sprinkle with salt to remove some of the liquid and intensify the flavour.

An artistic aubergine photo. They are a beautiful vegetable.

An artistic aubergine photo. They are a beautiful vegetable.

Slice and mince the ginger and garlic together into as near a paste as possible. Pod the cardamom. Dry fry the cumin until dark brown. Grind to a dust. When the meat is browned, sweat the onions down over a low heat.

The onions will lift off any near burned bits.

The onions will lift off any near burned bits.

This will lift any bits of stuck meat from the casserole and capture the flavour. When the onions are reduced to almost translucent, spoon them out and reserve. Add the garlic/ginger paste and stir until the paste has taken on a nice golden colour. Next, turn to medium heat and add all the spices bar the fresh chilis. Stir, adding a little water if they start to stick. Fry until they release their huge aroma and are almost stuck to the bottom of the casserole.

I added a little water to stop it sticking. Fantastic flavours.

I added a little water to stop it sticking. Fantastic flavours.

Add back the lamb and stir to coat with the spice mixture. Keep stirring until everything is well coated. Split the chilis lengthways and add to the casserole.

The chilis add some nice background heat. Use one or two as you wish.

The chilis add some nice background heat. Use one or two as you wish.

Cook, stirring constantly for about ten minutes. Add back the onions. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk and sultanas.

I think this is my only sultana pouring shot ever.

I think this is my only sultana pouring shot ever.

Stir well and place in a 160ºC oven for an hour. Add the pulses. Pat dry the aubergines. Slice into cubes and add to the curry.

The aubergines tend to want to float.

The aubergines tend to want to float.

Stir to incorporate. Cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. The curry is all but ready. Add the spinach and stir to incorporate just before serving with some basmati rice and a nice cold beer.

A little bit of chutney was nice with this too.

A little bit of chutney was nice with this too.

This curry is reflective of some of my own characteristics, mellow, delicate and smooth. It also has numerous layers of delicious flavours. Just like a decent education, it had the layers added one at a time. You can’t beat it.

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Latest comments
  • Love the aubergine pic and the curry sounds excellent. Good work, Bofin, go to the top of the class. 🙂

      • The Christian Brothers don’t have a good reputation. I’ve heard some horrific stories.

  • That looks so tasty Conor! I love the precarious artistic aubergine shot.

  • Like lambs to the slaughter! Delicious 🙂

  • A truly delicious curry, sir. The Brothers clearly didn’t beat all vestiges of good taste out of you. The good Sisters tried with me too, but I am unrepentantly non self-denying when it comes to food… The only small thing I’d do differently is mortify the flesh and force myself to wait 24 hours before I ate it, to let the flavour develop even further. But that’s just me…
    PS: Hurray! blog fixed! I can Like and Comment with abandon!

  • I’m a big curry fan, like to keep my endeavours as authentic as possible though. I’ve never seen a curry quite like this before, but it sounds delicious Conor. Love the idea of enriching the sauce with some lamb mince, yum

  • I had mild mannered teacher, too. One stroke of cane for every mistake made in the time table test.

    I love curries. I love to eat. I note you curry has a mild and rather sweet nature. Does it have the Irish charm?

  • You’ve hit this one right on the head, Conor. Lot of flavor in this one. It seems somewhat Indian to me. I may try something with similar flavors but different cooking techniques. I’m intrigued by the spinach. Agree that neck is the best cut for this.

  • Great looking dish and amazing photos. Sorry to read that such a wonderful dish brings back such horrid memories…

    • The dish doesn’t really have any association. It was only the hits and the punch that made the link.

  • Hmmm, you are correct, I did not see your last post. In addition, I cannot find an Unfollow button anywhere (nor a Follow button for that matter) for WP anywhere on your site. I am getting email notifications, but unfortunately it sometimes gets buried in my hundreds of work emails. Now for this lovely eggplant curry, I think your ingredients shot is most impressive! I don’t see it being slightly out of focus at all. I would have loved to have been a guest at this dinner, I can only imagine how wonderful this tasted! Now I’m off to read your last post…

    • As long as you are getting them, all is good. You and I can catch up on Facebook too. It’s not like I’m hiding the stuff!

  • Rich, delicious curry.

  • Conor!!! so happy for you! awesome new theme, and some amazing recipes, delicious photos and killer good recipes. I think I will start with this cozy curry for sure. Love this theme so much easier to navigate around on. May I ask which one you are using? (off line if you wish) Your curry is drool worthy. Loving the addition of sultans too. Spicy, slightly sweet and perfectly balanced.

  • That looks great – if someone had greedily eaten the last of her aubergines before seeing this fabulous recipe could she use another vegetable as a suitable substitute? The lamb – or rather I should say hoggat and mutton we have plenty of and very nice it is too.

  • This sound and looks just wonderful. The photography is fantastic as always. Thank you Conor.

  • Hi Conor! You call them aubergine, I call them eggplant, but somehow your dish and terminology is much more dreamy! I don’t cook lamb and have been wanting to pursue it more. This looks like the perfect dish to start with! Gorgeous shots!

      • All is well here on the Mountain Conor! I hope all is well with you also.
        I tried to make lamb many years ago, but it was pretty gross. A result of the dreaded commercial grocery store meats here in the states. I do know where I can get it fresh when I muster up the nerve again. This dish just might do it!

  • What a horrid school experience. My great, great aunt was a nun and a teacher. My dad asked her once if she beat her students. She didn’t answer. I know it was a different time but geez. As usual, fabulous recipe!

      • Oh kids need discipline but they don’t need abuse. My next post will be curry as well, and not a curry paste in sight! 😄

          • Unless it’s a school night, swim practice, tennis, and I want time for a glass of wine! 😄. You can tell when during the week I make a curry based on whether I include paste or not in my post. Such is life!

          • Aha! 😄.

  • Oh, this sounds so good, Conor! And I love the aubergine photo as well, very artistic! I love currys and this sounds amazing. A few years ago I don’t think I could have handled the two chili’s but now …. maybe I can! Thanks for sharing!

  • You had me at curry. These flavours sound amazing!

  • Gorgeous – love curries from all different countries, and this one looks incredible. I don’t love adzuki beans, but any bean could be substituted I imagine, without the bean police showing up at my house…

  • I did prepare this dish, Conor. In fact, I enjoyed a bowl this evening for supper. It is every bit as delicious as you said it would be. I will definitely make it again. Fall, for me, is lamb season and I can never have too many recipes to prepare. Thanks for sharing!

  • Just cut & pasted this recipe – looks delicious and fingers crossed I will get to try it tomorrow. I have the spices and the beer anyway so that’s a good start!

  • Sorry I am late here, Conor – too much running around, I am afraid, right now. Having posted recently my own “Leg of Lamb…” I now simply will have to make your curry – it will be too mild for JS, but I will try and make this curry in 2 separate ‘heat batches’. Like the aubergines, spinach, and most of all the minced meat in there! Your photographs!!!! Incredible – Conor, truly. I have so much to learn from you. Thanks for that 🙂 🙂

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