Rajasthani red lamb

This vibrant red dish, laal maas, is an ages-old meat recipe from Rajasthan.

It is traditionally made of wild game, but goat, mutton or lamb is now most commonly used. The name comes from the Hindi for ”red meat”, due to its deep red colour from the Kashmiri chillies.

This recipe is a hunter-style preparation and is simple to cook. Originally this recipe called for the meat to be parboiled, rather than marinated, and is still made this way in many places.

The marination in yoghurt is about tenderising the meat, which is what parboiling does. Parboiling also renders out some of the fat, which may be a good reason to use that approach. Your choice of meat may suggest one method over another.

If you choose to parboil, then leave out the marination step, and don’t use the yoghurt or spices – there is enough chilli in this recipe as it is. Add the ground coriander and cumin to the sauce after the chilli and garlic paste. You should par-boil the meat for around 20 minutes, depending on the meat itself. You will need to decide how tough or fatty the meat is.

We usually prepare the recipe as described below, using large pieces of lamb leg.

This recipe would suit goat or mutton if you can get it. Lamb chops can be used, as can lamb shanks. In these cases, adjust cooking times to suit the meat you have used. Goat, mutton, and lamb shanks may need as much as an extra hour to cook. They are also good candidates to consider parboiling.

This dish requires a lot of Kashmiri chilli. I recommend you do not substitute ordinary dried chillies, as they are more pungent and hotter than Kashmiri chillies, and do not give as much colour to the dish.

The last step in this dish is particularly important. It is called dhungar and is simply adding some smoking charcoal and ghee to the cooking process. It is a key part of the flavour. You need a small metal bowl – around 5cm in diameter – into which you put red-hot charcoal and ghee and leave for a few minutes to smoke the dish. The recipe below explains the technique.

An ideal accompaniment to this dish is a simple pulao, such as this green pea pulao. Allowing for the marination you will need to start this recipe at least the day before you want to serve.

the recipe

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  • wide pan with lid


  • 800 g lamb leg - cut into 5cm pieces

for the marinade

for the curry

for the dhungar

  • 1 small piece charcoal
  • ½ tsp ghee

to serve

  • ½ lemon - juiced
  • 1 red chilli - split lengthways


  • Place a small frypan on medium heat and add the coriander and cumin seeds, Toast the spices until they become aromatic then remove from the heat. When cool enough to handle grind to a fine powder.
  • Add the ground coriander and cumin seeds, Kashmiri chilli powder and yoghurt to a bowl and mix to a smooth paste. Add the lamb pieces to it and mix well. Cover and set aside for an hour or best, overnight.

to cook

  • Soak the Kashmiri dried chillies in 200ml warm water for 30 minutes. Blend half the red chillies with the garlic to a coarse paste using a little soaking liquid. Blend the remaining chillies using the remaining soaking liquid to a coarse paste and set aside to add at the end.
  • In a heavy-based wide saucepan heat the ghee and add the green and black cardamom pods, bay leaves and cloves. Fry for 30 seconds on medium heat as they begin to sizzle and infuse the oil. Add the onion and fry for ten minutes until they start to change colour to a light brown. Add the chilli and garlic paste and stir through. Fry for two minutes until the raw smell has gone.
  • Add the marinated lamb and remaining marinade. Stir fry for ten minutes until the meat pieces start to brown.
  • Add one cup of water and the salt, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for two hours. Gently stir every 15 minutes and add a little water if required. The meat will become tough at first, then become very tender towards the end of the cooking time. The sauce should reduce and have a thick consistency.
  • After two hours, check the seasoning, then add the reserved chilli paste. Mix well and simmer for a further 15 minutes.

for the dhungar

  • Using a set of kitchen tongs, heat the charcoal on an open flame on the stove. Heat it till it gets red hot.
  • Put a very small metal bowl in the middle of the curry. Place the hot charcoal in the bowl.
  • Drizzle the ghee over the charcoal. The charcoal will begin to smoke immediately. Cover the pan to trap the smoke. Keep it covered for two minutes only – the longer you leave it the smokier the flavour. Remove the cover, and remove the bowl carefully, using tongs.

to serve

  • Remove pan from heat, and pour over the lemon juice, stir gently, garnish with the split red chilli and serve.


  • This recipe would suit goat or mutton. Lamb chops or shanks can also be used.
  • Goat, mutton and lamb shanks may require as much as an additional hour to cook. They are also good candidates to consider par-boiling, as discussed in the article above.

private notes

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Serving: 250 g | Calories: 348 kcal | Carbohydrates: 14 g | Protein: 29 g | Fat: 19 g | Saturated Fat: 10 g | Cholesterol: 115 mg | Sodium: 717 mg | Potassium: 693 mg | Fiber: 4 g | Sugar: 4 g | Vitamin A: 1335 IU | Vitamin C: 28.5 mg | Calcium: 108 mg | Iron: 4.3 mg

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