Lamb Curry

Leftovers. It’s a bit of a catch-all word. At its worst it refers to those fridge lurkers you always meant to turn into a tasty dish and then forgot about: bits of meat blanketed under congealed fat; a bowl of gravy so ancient its top has cracked like parched mud; a heel of bread so hard you could brain a burglar with it.

At its best it’s the beginning of a new and delicious meal, one where you can smugly congratulate yourself on your thrift and ingenuity and have dinner table conversations about how awful it is that so many (other) people throw away perfectly good food.

Often it falls somewhere in between – like that edible but uninspiring cottage pie or fricassee you knocked up in a hurry because you didn’t want to waste what was left of the Sunday roast. I say ‘you’ but I actually mean me because I’ve done all these things at one time or another, especially falling back on safe old favourites.

I was going to turn our Sunday lamb leftovers into a spicy rice dish until I mentioned it to Him Outdoors and realised how underwhelmed he was. It’s a good recipe but I’ve probably cooked it once too often. So as it’s National Curry Week I had a re-think.

You can use this basic sauce to cook meat, fish or vegetables. And of course you’re not obliged to use leftovers: fresh meat works equally well (brown it first and either use a tender cut or increase the cooking time). These quantities should serve two very generously, three easily and four if you pair it with something like this Goan cauliflower curry.

Lamb Curry

Image of lamb and spinach curry


4 tbsp oil

2 large onions, peeled and chopped

2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

A big thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2-3 medium-hot chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped (or choose ones with a heat level you like)

1 tspn ground coriander

1/2 tspn ground turmeric

1/2 tspn ground cumin

1 tspn sweet paprika

4-5 lightly bashed green cardamoms (optional but good with lamb)

3-4 curry leaves (optional)

About 650g fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped, or 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 or 2 wineglasses of water

Salt, to taste

400-500 g leftover roast lamb (I used leg), cut into bite-sized chunks or equivalent in fresh meat

About 200g washed and dried spinach

Fresh coriander, to garnish

Image of garden veg for curry


In a heavy pan, heat the oil and fry the onions gently, sprinkled with a pinch of salt, until they’re soft and golden-brown, at least 15-20 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chillies and curry leaves and fry for a minute or so, then tip in the dried spices and cook for a further minute.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, add a pinch more salt, pour in the water and cook for about 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened somewhat. You can cook it ahead up to this point if the timings work better for you. Put in the lamb chunks and cook gently for about another 30 minutes (depending on how rare your lamb is) until the flavours have melded, adding more water if the sauce gets too thick. Adjust the timings if you’re substituting fish or vegetables.

Check the seasoning, scatter the spinach on top, put on a lid and cook gently until it has wilted, just a minute or two. Stir it through, scatter the curry with fresh chopped coriander and serve, either with rice, chapatis or naan and perhaps some minty, garlicky yoghurt and a fruity chutney on the side.

20 thoughts on “Lamb Curry

  1. The Wife had left-over lamb shank with left over chicken noodle soup (both to be blogged) for her tea the other evening. She sings the highest praise of left-overs.
    Love the “fridge lurkers” expression. I had to see off some hairy goats cheese at the weekend. Not pretty.

  2. We just spent a week eating leftovers from an Indian feast I cooked up for friends! They seem to get better and better! Thank goodness my husband doesn’t refuse to eat leftovers – that would be so silly! I love how you created a new dish, tho.

    • I always make extra so we’ve got odds and ends of curries in the freezer – perfect mini-feasts for those nights when you don’t have time to cook anything elaborate. I love leftovers and not much goes to waste in this house (the cats and hens get their share too). Thanks for commenting and for the follow, Mimi. Lx

      • I haven’t really, it’s just that there are a gazillion food blogs out there so one tends to get lost in the morass, as it were. Thank you, that’s very kind.

      • I think it was you who once said people don’t put enough background info on their ‘about’ pages. I actually re-wrote mine as a consequence, so thanks. Lx

      • I did write that, and not enough people have taken my advice, damnit!!! I should re-post it!! I just feel badly that I never knew you cooked, so I’m very happy now!

      • You should! Yes, I work as a professional food writer these days though I do other types of journalism too, mostly film scriptwriting and voiceovers as I worked in broadcasting for most of my life. Mrs Portly is my unpaid fun thing but also a sort of calling card. I probably spend too much time on here when I should be doing paid work but I love it! Lx

      • I know! It’s really a job, but at least we’re our own bosses! My blogging has slowed down because of a grand baby, but I don’t think I can ever quit.

      • Well, my reasoning is that I have to cook to eat, so I may as well post about it. Are you helping out with a lot of child-minding? I always really enjoy your blog so please don’t stop completely! How did you stumble across Mrs P, if I may ask?

      • Everyone should cook in order to eat, but most people eat at restaurants. I don’t get it! I tried to figure it out, but I can’t tell you what blog I was on. But your blog name was on a list of their favorite blogs, and I just loved the name!

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