Lamb curry ‘shepherds pie’ & Isle of Purbeck
This Travels in Honey recipe includes two options in one; a curry and a potato-topped pie, and also finds a thread between a British classic and classic Sri Lankan flavours. Honey is the balancing factor here, a touch of unrefined sweetness which highlights the umami and savoury notes by virtue of being different. A delicious Spring recipe... lamb is in season and pairs so well with spices and sweet potato.
This recipe is also gluten free and can be dairy free just by omitting the yogurt and replacing the coconut milk with water. Isle of Purbeck honey, made with spring flowers is strong, full of character and brings the perfect balance of umami to this dish. The curry can be eaten alone – with noodles, rice or with the sweet potato crust... many recipes in one!
For the curry:
1kg lambs neck cut into (roughly) 3cm chunks
Freshly ground black pepper / salt
5 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
2tsp cumin seed
4 red onions, peeled and sliced
15g garlic, peeled and finely chopped
15g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
25g coriander root, washed and finely chopped
3–4 small green chillies, finely chopped
4 anchovies, chopped, or 2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground or fresh turmeric
2 cinnamon stick, broken in half
400ml coconut milk
2 tbsp vinegar (any kind is fine)
1 tbsp Isle of Purbeck honey
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp full-fat plain yoghurt (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3.
Put the lamb in a large bowl with 1 tb sea salt and 2tb black pepper. Leave overnight to marinade. If you don’t have time for this just continue to the next stage.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan (with a lid) and, when smoking, add the cumin seed, sliced onions, garlic, ginger, coriander root and green chillies, along with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Sweat until the onions are soft, about 15 minutes. If the onions start to stick, you can always add a little water.
Stir the onion mix every so often. During this time, In a separate large pan, heat the remaining oil and, when smoking hot, brown the meat in batches, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a baking tray.
Once the onions are soft and sweet, add the anchovies or fish sauce, followed by the browned meat, coconut milk, vinegar, water, honey and cherry tomatoes. Bring to a simmer with the lid off then place the lid on the pan and into the oven for 3 / 4 hours until the lamb is tender. Once cooked stir in the yogurt.
For the shepherds pie:
1/2 the quantity of lamb curry
1.5kg sweet potatoes
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chilli flakes and honey (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Put the whole sweet potatoes in a roasting tin covered with tin foil and roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until nice and soft. Peel off the skin when still warm – this way the skin should come off easily. Mash with a balloon whisk and add the rest of the ingredients, seasoning to taste. Depending on the sweetness of your potatoes you might want to add a little honey for an extra boost.
Warm and then spread out the curry into an ovenproof dish, with the mash evenly spread on top.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and top with crispy onions, coriander leaves and chilli flakes. Serve with greens, yoghurt and lime wedges.