Lamb Karahi (Mutton Karahi)

Updated: February 4, 2024, By Swasthi

Lamb Karahi aka Mutton Karahi is a popular North Indian dish of goat/lamb, slow cooked with tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chilies and a special coarse ground spice blend known as kadai masala. Lamb Karahi is hugely popular in the Indian restaurants and goes by the names Karahi gosht or kadai mutton. It is eaten with flatbreads like plain Paratha, Naan, Tandoori Roti or Kulcha.

Lamb Karahi

Recipe Comments



Like many other Indian dishes, Kadai is also made in 2 versions – dry and gravy. While the dry version has a thick sauce that clings on to the mutton, the other version has more thick gravy/sauce that’s great to mop up with your flatbreads.

About Lamb Karahi

Traditionally this was cooked in a large iron wok, known as kadai/ karahi, hence the name – Lamb Karahi. The method of slow cooking it in a kadai and the use of kadai masala makes lamb karahi taste unique and different from a Goat and Lamb Curry.

I know a lot of us do not have this kind of iron wok at home so we often end up using a pan or any other cookware.

To begin with whole spices are freshly toasted and ground for the best flavors. In the absence of a spice grinder or whole spices, you may substitute with store bought ground spices or readymade kadai masala.

Garam Masala, Kitchen king masala, Meat masala, Biryani masala, Mutton masala and shahi masala work well as substitutes. But avoid using curry powder & curry paste. With all the substitutes, use the quantities as mentioned on the package. If you are using garam masala, you may use the substitutes I have mentioned in the recipe.

It is believed that originally Karahi Gosht was made without onions. Bone-in mutton is slow cooked in ghee or mustard oil with plenty of ripe tomatoes, ginger garlic and spices. But the modern day restaurants make it with onions to balance the tangy taste and flavor of tomatoes.

Mutton Karahi

This perfected recipe of Lamb Karahi strikes a balance between the sweet, spicy and hot flavors. While the meat is very tender and flavorsome, the sauce is equally delicious and you won’t feel you are eating a spiced tomato sauce.

Here are the key features of this dish that make it different from a regular lamb curry:

  • Minimum or no usage of onions (I prefer to use to balance the flavors)
  • Plenty of good quality fresh tomatoes. If you want make a dish without tomatoes check out these classic Nihari and Hyderabadi Marag
  • Meat is not marinated but sauteed first in ghee or mustard oil. If you want to marinate lamb you may check out this Indian Lamb Curry
  • Slow cooking i.e cooking meat with spices on a low to medium heat
  • Usage of ghee or mustard oil for an extra rich and delicious flavor
  • Usage of kadai masala to make it even more special

Read my pro tips below before you make this.

More Mutton Recipes
Keema Recipe
Rogan Josh
Mutton Curry
Lamb Vindaloo
Goat Curry
Mutton Korma

Photo Guide

How to Make Lamb Karahi (Stepwise Photos)

Kadai Masala substitute: If you do not want to make the spice blend – mix together 1½ tsp garam masala, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, Kashmiri chili powder (¾ to 1 tsp), 1 teaspoon fennel powder and 1/3 teaspoon black pepper.

Make Kadai Masala

1. On a low to medium heat, dry roast 3 to 4 Kashmiri red chilies and 2 tablespoons coriander seeds for 2 minutes. Add 4 cloves, 1 small black cardamom, 4 green cardamoms, 1½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and 3 inch cinnamon piece. Roast until they smell aromatic but not burnt, for 2 to 3 mins. I also add a strand of mace and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg since I don’t use garam masala. Leave them if you don’t have. Cool down and add to a spice jar.

whole spices

2. Grind them to a fine powder and keep aside. You will also need 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ¾ tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves).

ground spices - karahi masala

Prepare the ingredients

3. To save time, chop the onion and begin to cook, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Here is what you need:

  • 1 small black cardamom (optional, use to cut down the gamey flavor)
  • ¾ cup (100 grams) onions chopped finely
  • 1¼ tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or ¾ inch ginger and 4 garlic cloves crushed)
  • 400 grams tomatoes (4 medium tomatoes pureed – 1¾ cups puree )
  • 1 green chili slit or sliced, deseeded if preferred – to garnish
  • 1 inch ginger slice – julienned to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (cilantro finely chopped) – to garnish
  • 600 grams (1.2 lbs.) boneless lamb/goat leg/ shoulder (or ¾ kg bone-in) – excess fat trimmed
chopped onions tomatoes etc

Make Lamb Karahi

4. Heat 3 tablespoons ghee or oil to a pan/ kadai. Add the black cardamom and onions. Saute them for 4 to 5 mins, until the raw flavor is gone.

saute onions in ghee for lamb karahi

5. Add the mutton and saute on a medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until the color of the meat changes.

saute lamb/goat in ghee

6. Add ginger garlic and saute for 1 to 2 mins. Do not burn it.

saute ginger garlic paste

7. Lower the flame and stir in the turmeric, half of the salt and half of the prepared kadai masala.

sprinkle spices

8. Pour ¾ cup hot water and mix well.

hot water to cook lamb karahi

9. Cook covered for an hour on a medium heat. Keep adding water in batches. I didn’t have to check or stir for the first 30 mins. I had to add another half cup hot water at 30 mins mark. This may be different for you.

10. After 1 hour, very little liquid was left.

11. Pour the tomatoes and mix well.

tomatoes in a kadai

12. Cover and cook until the meat is tender and fully cooked. You need to stir every 6 to 7 mins to prevent the burning. If required reduce the heat during the last 15 mins. Mine took another 40 mins (1 hour 40 mins in total). For a dry kadai mutton, you may end here and leave out the yogurt and the rest of the kadai masala. Proceed to step 16 below.

half cooked goat/lamb in a kadai

Make more gravy

13. Take ¼ cup thick yogurt in a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the masala from the pan.

temper yogurt with hot kadai masala

14. Pour that tempered yogurt to the pan. Sprinkle rest of the kadai masala. Mix well. It may turn out too thick after adding the ground spices, if so add little hot water. I used about ¼ cup.

spices and yogurt to make more gravy

15. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 mins, until you see traces of oil rising to the surface.

traces of ghee on lamb karahi

16. Taste test and add more salt or black pepper if you want and kasuri methi. If you used the substitute for kadai masala you may need more garam masala. Add more if you want.

kasuri methi on mutton karahi

17. Garnish with black pepper (optional, for more heat), ginger, cut chilies and coriander leaves. Avoid adding the garnishes if you want to refrigerate or freeze it.

garnishing lamb karahi in a kadai

Serve Lamb Karahi with Plain Paratha, Tandoori roti, Naan or kulcha. Cucumber Salad, Kachumber or Onion Salad and Chaas make great sides.

Lamb Karahi Recipe

Pro Tips

  • The homemade spice blend shared in the post looks like a lot but the flavors will mellow down as you cook the meat for 2 hours. However if you avoid yogurt use only half of the kadai masala. Taste test and add more only if you want.
  • I have not used red chili powder at all. If you want you may substitute the dried chilies with Kashmiri powder or use half of both. For low heat, deseed the chilies. I use 4 to 5 Mathania chilies (not deseeded) as this gives me better flavor. If you want you may use any other kind you prefer.
  • Avoid using tangy tomatoes. Vine ripened, roma or sweet varieties are best here. However if your tomatoes are too sour, you may use heavy cream in place of yogurt and this helps to cut down some of the tang.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

Lamb Karahi - Mutton Karahi

Lamb Karahi (Mutton Karahi)

5 from 8 votes
North Indian mutton karahi is a dish where lamb/goat is cooked with plenty of tomatoes, kadai spices and herbs. Serve it with plain parathas, Tandoori roti, naan or kulcha.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time2 hours
Servings4
AuthorSwasthi
Diet : Gluten Free

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

For Kadai Masala (or read notes for substitute)

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 to 4 dried Kashmiri red chilies or ¾ to 1 teaspoon chili powder (cut down for low heat)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 inch (3 grams) cinnamon (not cassia)
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 small black cardamom
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon black pepper corn (cut down for low heat)

Other Ingredients

  • 600 grams (1.2 lbs.) boneless lamb/goat leg/ shoulder (or ¾ kg bone-in)
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 small black cardamom (optional, helps cut down gamey taste)
  • ¾ cup (100 grams) onions chopped finely
  • tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or ¾ inch ginger and 4 garlic cloves crushed)
  • 400 grams tomatoes (4 medium tomatoes pureed – 1¾ cups puree )
  • 1 teaspoon salt (¼ tsp more, adjust to taste, cut down to use store bought spice blend)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¾ to 1¼ cups hot water (to add in batches, adjust as needed)
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ¾ tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

To Garnish

  • 1 green chili slit or sliced, deseeded if preferred
  • 1 inch ginger slice – julienned to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (cilantro finely chopped)


Instructions

Preparation

  • On a medium heat, dry roast red chilies and coriander seeds for 2 minutes. Add cloves, black cardamoms, green cardamoms, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Roast until they smell aromatic but not burnt, for 2 to 3 mins. Cool this and make a fine powder. Keep this aside.

How to Make Lamb Karahi

  • On a medium flame, heat ghee/oil in a pan. Add the black cardamom and onions. Saute until transparent for 4 to 5 mins.
  • Add lamb and saute for 5 to 6 minutes, until the color of the mutton changes. Stir in ginger garlic paste and saute for 1 to 2 mins without burning.
  • Lower the heat and stir in turmeric, half of the salt and half of the prepared kadai masala. Pour hot water (start with less) and cook covered for an hour. If the pan dries out add more water and keep stirring in between.
  • After an hour of cooking, pour the pureed tomatoes. Cook covered on a medium heat until the lamb is tender and fully cooked. This step takes about 35 to 40 mins. The sauce should have reduced and turned thick.
  • Add yogurt to a small bowl & stir in 2 tbsps of the kadai gravy. Add back the tempered yogurt to the lamb karahi along with the rest of the kadai masala.
  • Mix well. If it is too thick you may add a splash of hot water. Simmer covered until you see traces of fats on top. This takes about 3 to 4 mins.
  • Taste test. Stir in more salt if needed along with crushed kasuri methi. For more heat you may add some freshly cracked black pepper or chili flakes.
  • Garnish with slit/ sliced green chilies, ginger juliennes and coriander leaves. Serve lamb karahi with tandoori roti, naan or kulcha.


Notes

  • To substitute Kadai masala, use 1½ tsp garam masala, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, Kashmiri chili powder (¾ to 1 tsp), 1 tsp fennel powder and 1/3 teaspoon black pepper. Taste test and add more garam masala at the last stage if you want.
  • You may add more hot water as required. If there is too much liquid by the end, evaporate by cooking uncovered.
  • If you want you may also add a strand of mace and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg to the kadai masala.

Video

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NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Lamb Karahi (Mutton Karahi)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 349 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 119mg40%
Sodium 747mg32%
Potassium 854mg24%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 33g66%
Vitamin A 932IU19%
Vitamin C 19mg23%
Calcium 151mg15%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
Made this twice during the last month and everyone at home loved it. Your recipes are awesome with perfect flavor blend and heat. I made the kadai masala too and I think nothing store bought comes close to your homemade blend. Thank you and keep posting.

5 stars
This is a complete guide on karahi and has helped a lot. I made this recipe and we did not expect it to be this good. I didn’t have time to make the spice blend so used the substitutes but it was still fantastic. Lamb was tender and the sauce delicious.

I making this tomorrow. I made the kadai masala and it is a lot. How much I should be adding in the dish?

5 stars
This is delicious. I used the substitutes because I don’t have a spice grinder. Can this be frozen and how long? How do you reheat? Thank you

5 stars
This lamb karahi is a fantastic flavor bomb. This is the first time I made a Indian recipe with homemade spice blend. This exceeded my expectations and it was even more delicious the next day.

Lamb karahi is quite popular in the BIR restaurants in UK and this one looks classy. Do you think I can use turkey? Would these spices go well with turkey?

5 stars
I made this karahi yesterday and it was fabulous! We still smell the spice blend in our kitchen, after a day! So good and for us this is a great experience, being able to cook such high quality food that tastes better than 5 star restaurant. Thank you, you made our week. We have leftovers for another meal and hoping to make tandoori roti from here, when I reheat that.

5 stars
We have made lamb karahi many times before but those tasted nothing like this one. Omitted black cardamom and used a quarter tsp of dagad. This is the first time I cooked something with so many spices. Absolutely delicious! This is going to my favorites..

Thank You. This karahi looks delish! Bookmarking this to make it soon.

5 stars
Another delicious recipe from your website. I used 2 pounds bone-in goat, tripled the chilies and kept everything else same. Turned out excellent.