lamb dopiaza

Dopiaza translates from Persian as either “double onion” or “onion added twice”. This recipe has twice as many onions you might expect and they are added in two stages into the dish. This produces a slightly sweet dish, with a quite voluptuous texture.

This dish is like a korma, with the lamb braised in yoghurt, but is much simpler in its preparation. It is almost a one-pot dish.

This is another dish attributed to the kitchens of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and is another great example of Mughlai cuisine. It is commonly featured in Lucknavi cuisine.

You must be patient cooking this recipe. The lamb will take about two hours to cook on a low simmer, then it will take up to an hour to reduce the sauce. However, the preparation can be ridiculously simple.

Asking your butcher to prepare the lamb shoulder will save you a lot of time. Yes, you could leave the bones out and just use diced lamb. But, by preparing the recipe as specified you will be rewarded by a greatly developed favour.

We usually serve this dish with plain rice and a simple vegetable dish.

the recipe

preparation:15 mins
cook:3 hrs
total:3 hrs 15 mins
servings:4 servings
calories:527 kcal


to serve


  • Toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns and cardamom pods. When aromatic remove from heat, allow to cool, then grind to a coarse powder.
  • Place the ground spices and all the other ingredients except the second quantity of onions into a deep pan and mix well. Add the reserved lamb shoulder bones. Gently bring pan to boil, stirring continuously, then cover. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Uncover the pan and add the second quantity of onion pieces. Mix well and raise the heat to medium. Cook for another 30 minutes, stirring frequently. The curry should reduce and the onions and the lamb should soften.
  • The curry is cooked when you have a thick rich creamy sauce, with the lamb soft enough to cut with a fork.
  • Turn into a serving bowl and dress with the coriander leaves. Serve.


  • Ask your butcher to bone the shoulder and cut the meat into 5cm chunks. Retain the bones as you will cook with them.
  • The time taken to reduce the sauce will depend on the moisture content of the meat, and how hot you keep the pot. Too high a heat and you will risk burning the dish. Too low, and it will take too long to reduce. If you don’t have to keep stirring every few minutes it is probably too low.
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