Lamb cutlets in masala with almond & pumpkin curry

Use freshly ground spices if possible to make the most of the rich, aromatic marinade in this dish. Pre-ground spices rarely match the flavour of whole seeds. Prepare the marinade a couple of hours before cooking the curry to allow the meat time to absorb the flavours. You could serve the curry alone for a vegetarian main.


  • 12 lamb cutlets
  • Vegetable oil

  • For the masala marinade
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • Seeds of 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 large handful coriander leaves
  • 1 large handful mint leaves
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 heaped tbsp plain yoghurt

  • For the curry
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 cardamom pod, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 small brown onion, cut into 1cm dice
  • 350g butternut pumpkin, cut into 4cm chunks
  • 2/3 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup whole blanched almonds


For the marinade, toast fennel, coriander and cardamom seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant (about 4-5 minutes). Using a mortar and pestle, grind spices with a pinch of salt into a fine powder. Remove and reserve.

Pound the coriander and mint leaves with a pinch of salt in a mortar with a pestle until broken down. Add chilli, turmeric, garam masala, the freshly ground spices, lemon juice and yoghurt.

Coat the lamb cutlets in the masala mixture and marinate for about 2 hours.

For the pumpkin-almond curry, warm oil in a large saucepan or wok on a low heat and sauté mustard seeds and cardamom pod for a minute. Add cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add pumpkin, 1 cup water, a pinch of salt, coconut cream, turmeric and almonds. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until pumpkin is tender and sauce has slightly thickened (it should have the consistency of a soup).

In a frying pan, warm 1 tbsp oil over a medium heat. Cook cutlets in batches for about 3 minutes each side. Rest somewhere warm for 5 minutes, then serve with the curry.

NOTES: Want something to drink?
Made by one of our great winemakers, Margaret River's Vanya Cullen, the 2013 Cullen cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend is a vibrant, fruit-driven cabernet with ripe raspberry and dark spices. An ideal complement to the lamb, it drinks fantastically now and will continue to do so for years to come.

First published in the Good Weekend.