Regular readers of this blog will probably know that I love a good curry, and I quite like going a little off the beaten track to try out new and interesting ones, say Cambodia, Laos or Nepal. I’d love to say that I picked this recipe up on my last trip to Mauritius, but sadly I’ve never been (although it is firmly on the lifetime agenda, or bucket list as everyone now seems to say), instead I first got the idea of a Mauritian curry from a Gordon Ramsay recipe on BBCGoodFood. From there some research followed which resulted in what you find here.
Mauritius is an island with a rich & diverse history located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar - discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968.
As wide a variety of inherited cuisines and flavours as different settlers throughout its history then with culinary traditions from Europe (particularly French), India, China and Africa passed on through generations. There are also, it seems, heavy Creole influences.
This spiced curry of lamb cooked in a tomato-based sauce with chillies and ginger has a unique taste that reflects its origins with hints of star anise, mustard seeds, cinnamon & cumin as well as the addition of curry leaves.
The original Gordon Ramsay from which this arose was actually for goat but despite living in South London that is a little tricky for me to get hold of (without a special trip): do seek out some goat shoulder, or other braising cut, if you can though as I suspect it would be great. I also have a sneaking suspicion that goat is lower in fat than lamb too.
I added some vegetable content in the form of spinach & mushrooms as basically I wanted to up my veg count for the day but these are entirely optional. I would suggest however leaving the curry once cooked to allow the flavours to develop further - again, optional but this is definitely a case where the curry tastes even better the next day!
Mauritian Lamb Curry
750g stewing lamb
2 tbsp groundnut oil
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
4 cardamom pods , lightly crushed
1 tsp unrefined light brown sugar
5-6 curry leaves
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
400ml chicken stock or water
frozen spinach - about 5-6 small blocks
For the chilli paste
1 small onion , roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves , peeled
4 small seeded chillies , roughly chopped
3cm piece ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp groundnut oil
To make the chilli paste, put all the ingredients into a small food processor or spice grinder and whizz to a fine paste. Put into a small bowl and set aside.
Cut the lamb into bite-size chunks and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of groundnut oil in a wide sauté pan or heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the meat in batches until golden brown all over. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Tip the chilli paste into the pan and stir over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
Add the dried spices, sugar and curry leaves and continue to stir for another minute or so.
Put the browned meat, along with any juices, back in the pan and stir around so that the meat gets coated.
Add the chopped tomatoes and stock and stir well, then reduce the heat.
Pop a lid on the pan and cook very slowly for 3-4 hours until the meat is just tender. Then remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes until it has reduced a little.
Check the seasoning carefully and serve with plain rice.