Indonesian Lamb Curry (gulai kambing)

gulai kambing - photo Armelle Habib

Source:, Feast Magazine, Issue 14, p75
Recipe by Susilowati Primo


1.5kg lamb shoulder, bone in, cut into 4 cm pieces (Braefield Prime Lamb, Mount Gnomon Farm, Rumdoodle Farm)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 cinnamon quill
5cm-piece galangal, grated
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised (Brocklands, Laos Fresh Farm)
3 kaffir lime leaves
3 salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaves)
600ml coconut milk
400ml coconut cream
Fried Asian eschalots, lontong (compressed rice cakes), or steamed white rice and shrimp crackers, to serve

Spice mix:
5 long red chillies, roughly chopped (Tamar Valley Hydroponics)
10 small Asian red eschalots, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (Tasmanian Natural Garlic & Tomatoes)
5 candle nuts, chopped
2cm-piece ginger, chopped
2cm-piece turmeric, chopped
2 tablespoon coriander seeds (Laos Fresh Farm)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon coconut sugar or palm sugar


Place lamb in a saucepan of water. Bring to the boil. Drain, then rinse in cold water and pat dry with paper towel.

Place spice mix ingredients in a small food processor and process to a coarse paste.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add spice paste. Add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves and salam leaves, and cook for 7 minutes or until fragrant.

Increase heat to high, then add lamb and cook for 4 minutes or until well coated in the spice paste. Reduce heat to medium, add coconut milk and 750 ml water, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1½ hours or until lamb is tender.

Increase heat to medium, add coconut cream and bring to the boil. Remove and discard cinnamon and lemongrass stalks.

Scatter fried Asian eschalots over curry and serve with rice cakes, cooked according to packet directions, and shrimp crackers.

Serves 6

Galangal is available from Asian food shops and greengrocers.
Fried Asian eschalots and candle nuts are available from Asian food shops. Candle nuts must be cooked before eating.
Lontong (compressed rice cakes) are sold as uncooked rice in individual perforated plastic packets. They are available from Indonesian food shops.
Coconut sugar is available from selected health food shops and Asian food shops.