Peshwari Red Mutton Curry

January 27, 2017

This really is one from the memory banks! While in Hongkong in the early '80s one of our favourite restaurants was a little place in the Wanchai district, called SMI. Its calling card was curries from around the Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, and the menu ran to over 50 dishes, many of which we hadn't come across before and haven't encountered since. This gorgeous mutton curry is one which has stuck in the mind. It's not a million miles from a Rogan Josh, to be honest, but redder and considerably hotter! (Note that if you do not enjoy the strong flavour of mutton, this curry can be made just as well with lamb, although we would point out it is tastier when using meat on the bone.) On returning to Hongkong for a visit in 2005 we found SMI to be long gone, so in its memory give this one a try. You won't be disappointed!


1Throw the onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes into a blender and whizz to a smooth paste.

2Heat the ghee in a heavy, deep pan before adding the whole spices and frying till the aroma comes through.

3Next add the paste and fry carefully for 20 minutes or so, again until that lovely smell fills your kitchen and the colour has deepened.

4Now add the Karachi blend and the tomato powder, stir well to combine, and add the meat.

5Saute for a short while till the meat is thoroughly coated, and then add enough water so that the meat is completely covered.

6Bring to a rolling simmer, then turn down and cook on a low heat for 2 hours, keeping an eye on the water to make sure your curry does not dry out. The dish should finish with a lovely, thick and plentiful gravy.

7Half an hour before the curry is ready, stir in the garam masala, and if you like a handful of chopped fresh coriander.

8Serve the curry with pilau rice and/or naan bread.


Ghee, coconut oil or sunflower oil (ghee works best)

500g mutton or lamb

2 onions

5 cloves garlic

thumb-sized piece of ginger

6 tomatoes

1 largish stick of cinnamon

4 star anise

4 black cardamom pods

3 dried Kashmiri chillies

4tsp Spice Mountain Karachi blend curry powder

3tsp Garam Masala

3tsp Tomato powder/or good squeeze of tomato puree