Last Updated on February 27, 2023
Monday Curry – Lamb Leftover Curry in the Instant Pot
I love using leftovers. This Instant Pot Lamb Curry is the perfect example of a meal that’s just as good as if it was made with raw meat. Using chunks of leftover lamb it needs cooking at high pressure for no more than 20 minutes and it’s a dish you can adapt to your own palate with ease. You should have all the ingredients lurking somewhere in your larder, even if like me that means making up your own Garam Masala.
The background to this dish is that I was sent a selection of meats from Swaledale butchers. The most spectacular item was a boned and rolled shoulder of lamb (about 2.5kg) which I cooked ‘boulangere’ style – spiking it with garlic and slow roasting it in the oven on a bed of thyme, potatoes and onions, laced with homemade lamb stock (from the bones I was sent!). I’m a real fan of their meat – it’s never frozen and there’s an excellent range of classic cuts together with a good selection of game and some more unusual options. They have some lovely ‘budget’ options too – watch out for my next dish which is made with a smoked ham hock that costs just £6.75 for a kilo!
We ate that for a special dinner, but despite four hungry mouths, there was around a kilo of lamb left. The big advantage of this lamb curry recipe is that it freezes well – so I have enough for a couple of meals in the fridge and four more portions are frozen for later.
Normally I’d make this dish with a shop-bought garam masala. There was none in the cupboard, so I made up my own version of this classic Indian spice mix (no claim to authenticity here!). I had plenty of whole spices – coriander, cardamon, caraway and cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon and nutmeg so I made up my own mix with some chilli flakes for heat. It’s a relatively simple process – you just toast any of the ‘whole’ spices lightly, then put everything in a spice mill or small blender and grind to a fine powder and I have to say the end result is stunningly aromatic. If you have a mix of ground and whole spices then just avoid adding and ‘toasting’ the ground spices until the very end or you’ll end up with a burnt garam masala.
I also made garlic, coriander leaf and ginger paste – half of which is now frozen for later use. If you don’t want to bother, you could just use shop-bought pastes and, if you like the taste, chop in some coriander. But, it’s very simple to make from scratch and keeps well in the fridge or freezer. Just peel and blend the cloves from a head of garlic with about half the weight of peeled fresh ginger and a good handful of fresh coriander (stalks and leaves).
I had leftover fresh lamb stock which I had prepared for cooking the lamb boulangere, but if you don’t, then you could use a lamb or chicken stock cube, some vegetable bouillon or even water. This really did turn out to be a leftover lamb curry in my case.
Finally, I cooked the whole dish in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, from start to finish. That involved toasting the spices for a few seconds, softening the onions in oil and then adding in the remaining ingredients before stirring well, sealing and cooking on high pressure for 15 minutes. If you don’t have an Instant Pot or similar pressure cooker, you can cook this on the hob – just allow 40 minutes to make sure the meat is really tender and fully infused with the spices.
Now, while this is a meat-based recipe, frugal in the sense that it uses up leftovers, you could make the same dish with chickpeas (cooked or from a can) if you want a veggie option (obviously using bouillon rather than lamb stock). Or, for a truly flexitarian version if you are short on leftover meat, try using half meat, half chickpeas. Here’s the recipe for you to try for yourself – but please feel free to mix and match the ingredients depending on what you have available.
Instant Pot Lamb Curry
- 1 Electric Pressure Cooker I used an instant pot
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 5 green cardomon pods
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes or 1-2 dried chillies
- 15 black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
Ginger and Garlic Paste
- 1 inch fresh root ginger (peeled)
- 1/2 bulb garlic - broken into cloves and peeled
- 1 handful coriander leaves and stalks (optional)
Instant Pot Leftover Lamb Curry
- 15 ml sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon garam masala Shop bought is fine, or use my recipe
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 dried chillis Optional - if you want a hotter curry
- 2 medium red onions, peeled and diced
- 1 kg left over cooked lamb cut into cubes this recipe will work with anything from 750g to 1kg of cooked meat
- 300 ml lamb stock or alternative of your choice vegetable bouillon or chicken stock is fine
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon garlic/ginger paste You can use a teaspoon each of the shop bought version if you prefer
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a cast iron skillet over a medium flame
- Add all the whole spices and toast until you can smell them and they start to pop. Take off the heat and add any already ground ingredients (e.g. the nutmeg)
- Grind to a fine powder and store in a glass jar for up to 6 months
Ginger and Garlic Paste
- Put the ginger, garlic and coriander into a small blender and blitz to a paste.
- Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months
Instant Pot Leftover Lamb Curry
- Put the spices into the instant pot and switch to saute (medium). As the pan warms up add the oil and stir till the oil starts to sizzle.
- Add the bay leaves and onion and cook on medium till the onion is soft, stirring frequently
- Stir through the ginger and garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds
- Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper
- Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes
- Fast release and remove the lid. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove the bay leaves and chillis if using.
- Serve with yoghurt and fresh chopped parsley or coriander.