Make the best Lamb korma aka Mutton korma with this authentic recipe. This simple crowd-pleasing dish has tender & succulent pieces of lamb/ mutton simmered in an amazingly delicious and super flavourful gravy. Serve this incredibly tasty lamb korma over fluffy basmati rice, Jeera rice, Turmeric Rice or with flatbreads like Garlic Butter Naan, roti or Plain Paratha. Extend your menu with a Cucumber Raita, Biryani & Halwa for a luxurious feast.
Korma is a popular Mughlai dish, from the Indian Sub-continent where meat is slow cooked with spices, onions, yogurt, nut or seed paste. The word “korma” is derived from the Urdu word “qorma” meaning “braise”.
Though the name suggests “braised”, there are numerous versions of making it across the Indian Sub-Continent. North Indian and Pakistani recipes use brown onions and yogurt to make a korma, while the South Indian kurma is made with coconut milk.
This lamb korma is made in the North Indian style using ingredients like onions, yogurt, ghee and spices that yield a rich and delicious dish. Golden onions also known as fried onions or brown onions along with yogurt form the base of this mutton korma.
Slow cooking lamb helps release all of the juices from the bones and makes this dish taste amazingly delicious. While the yogurt tenderizes the meat, the aromatic Indian spices infuse all of the wonderful flavors.
So Ingredients like nuts, seeds, coconut milk and cream are not required here.
How To Make Lamb Korma (Stepwise Photos)
1. Transfer cleaned and rinsed mutton to a heavy bottom pot. Add in all of the whole spices – cinnamon, cardamom, black cardamoms and cloves.
2. Next add in spice powders – red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric and salt.
3. Fresh ground ginger & garlic paste is best for this recipe. Add in 1 tbsp paste.
4. Transfer thick curd or yogurt. Then throw in a slit green chili and crushed pepper corn. I use the Thai or Indian chilli here.
5. Mix well and marinate. Cover and keep refrigerated for at least 2 to 3 hours. I usually leave it in the fridge overnight. Resting the meat longer yields succulent and tender meat in your korma. Also longer resting time cuts down the cook time.
Make golden onions
6. Meanwhile wash and slice 3 medium sized onions very thinly. Separate the layers of onions. You may shallow fry or deep fry the onions to your convenience. I show you both the ways here for easy understanding. Choose one of the options.
Option 1 – To Shallow fry, heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Spread the onions as shown in the picture and let them fry uniformly.
Keep stirring in between and fry until the onions are golden but not burnt. Note that burnt or over fried onions will taste bitter.
This is the right stage at which they need to be taken out from the ghee.
Option 2 – Deep fry in hot oil on a medium flame until uniformly golden but not brown. Drain them on a kitchen tissue until cool. You can also make this a day ahead. I used about 1 cup of fried onions. Please do not use store bought fried onions made in Vanaspati or vegetable oil.
7. Transfer the golden onions to a blender.
8. Pulse it several times to make a coarse powder or paste. Don’t worry if you get a paste as it depends on the fats absorbed. If it is too little for your grinder, simply add a few tablespoons of water or yogurt to help blend it.
Make Lamb Korma
9. When you are about to begin cooking, transfer the same ghee (in which we fried the onions) to the pot. You can also do it the other way by transferring the marinade to the ghee pan.
10. Begin to saute the mutton for at least 10 mins.
11. By this time, the marinade turns runny as the yogurt and mutton lets out water. Cook covered on a low to medium heat for at least 30 mins.
12. After 30 mins, put in the crushed fried onions. Then pour 2 cups of hot water. You can use more water as needed.
13. Mix well.
Slow cook mutton korma
14. Cover and cook until the mutton turns soft. Keep stirring in between to prevent the fried onions from burning.
15. When the mutton is almost cooked, put in mace and nutmeg powder. If you do not have, simply skip them.
16. Continue to cook stirring occasionally until the mutton is done completely. The mutton should fall off the bone when it is cooked completely. The meat is soft, juicy and succulent.
17. Add in kewra water (optional). If you do not like you can just skip it and add ¼ tsp of cardamom powder.
18. The consistency of the korma is thick. The oil separates and floats on top.
Mutton korma tastes best after resting it for at least an hour. I usually serve after 2 hours.
- Good quality lamb meat or mutton, whole spices, garam masala and ghee are the key contributors to a flavorful mutton korma.
- It is the quality of the meat that matters the most so buy fresh cut lamb or at least cut on the same day.
- Patience is the next big thing needed for a good mutton recipe. Always make sure and cook it on a low to medium flame. Meat cooked on high heat always turns hard.
- Always marinate the mutton as this process helps to tenderize and enhance the flavor of the meat. The longer it rests the more succulent & tender it turns out. You can also marinate the previous night & refrigerate. Ensure it comes to room temperature before you begin to cook.
- Traditionally ghee was the preferred fats to cook korma. But if you do not have it then just go ahead using oil.
- The fried onions is the star of any korma recipe, so always make them at home. You can also make it ahead and refrigerate in a glass jar. Avoid store bought fried onions fried in vanaspathi or vegetable margarine as it ruins the entire dish.
- This recipe can be made in a slow cooker & instant pot. Slow cooking the lamb korma brings out the flavors of the lamb and also makes the gravy rich. So do not cook mutton korma in a rush.
- Lamb korma can be made ahead and refrigerated. This flavor & taste of the korma enhances the next day.
- Avoid using sour yogurt and use fresh. I use homemade fresh yogurt.
Lamb Korma | Mutton Korma
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Whole spices (or use 1½ tsp garam masala)
- 4 to 6 cloves (laung)
- 2 inch cinnamon piece (dalchini, refer notes)
- 6 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 2 small black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
- ½ teaspoon pepper corn lightly crushed black pepper
- 3 medium onions thinly sliced or use 1 cup fried onions
- 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter or oil)
- 2 cups hot water Use more if needed
Optional (for authentic flavors)
- 1 strand mace (javithri , refer notes)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (jaiphal powder, refer notes)
- 1 teaspoon kewra water (or ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder)
Marination for mutton korma
- Wash the mutton well and drain the water. Put it in a a bowl for marination.
- Next transfer all the spices – coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric & garam masala. (or whole spices – cinnamon, cardamoms, black cardamoms, pepper and cloves)
- Add ginger garlic paste, green chilli, salt and yogurt.
- Mix all of these and cover it. Keep this for marination for at least 2 hours to overnight in the fridge.
- The marinade works as a tenderizer. So longer the lamb meat is allowed to rest the more tender it turns.
How to make lamb korma
- Heat ghee or oil in a wide heavy bottom pan or pot.
- Separate the layers of onions and slide them to the hot oil or ghee.
- Fry them until deep golden stirring often. The onions must be uniformly browned without burning. This may take about 8 to 10 mins.
- Cool these completely and pulse them coarsely in a blender. Do not over blend as they begin to release lot of oil. If your grinder is unable to grind, you may add 2 tbsps of water or yogurt to help grind. Set this aside.
- To the same pan, add the lamb marinade and mix it. Begin to saute on a medium heat for about 10 mins.
- Yogurt and lamb lets out lot of moisture. Cover and let the mutton cook in this for 30 mins.
- After 30 minutes of cooking the mutton, add the crushed fried brown onions.
- Pour 2 cups hot water and mix well. Cook covered until mutton turns slightly tender stirring occasionally. This may take about 1 hour or more.
- Add mace and nutmeg at this stage (optional). Continue to cook until the mutton falls off the bone easily. Optional – Add kewra water at this stage. Mix and turn off.
- Allow lamb korma to rest at least for a hour to absorb the flavors. Serve with naan, roti, paratha, rice, biryani or pulao.
- The recipe requires only 2 inch piece of cinnamon (single layer). It is not a 2 inch stick. If your cinnamon is paper thin like ceylon cinnamon, then you may use 2 layers of 2 inch length.
- 1 strand of mace is just a thin single strand. Using a lot will make the korma taste bitter.
- 1 large pinch of nutmeg is what is used here.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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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.
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