Using Lamb in Indian Cooking
Lamb is only lamb if it has been used for meat within its first year. Older then tweleve months the animal is known as a hogget or and old season lamb. It's only at about a year and a half when it gets its first incisor tooth that it becomes mutton. Season lamb is a very tender meat but the meat from an older animal has a much more developed flavour and requires more cooking time to ensure the meat is soft.
Many Indian meat dishes are slow cooked which is why it lends itself to using mutton. As this has to be cooked slowly the flavours develop gently and results is some wonderful sauces. Meat also tends to be butchered on the bone which meats that the slow cooking combined with the flavours from the bone results (in my opinion) a richer, fuller gravy that is meaty and delicious. For Indian dishes it is really important that you trim the meat removing the excess fat to avoid a greasy, oily finish to your sauce. In India itself lamb is seldom used because those who do eat meat prefer the meat to be very lean so they tend to use young goat meat even though they call it lamb.
Neck or scrag end
This is great for slow cooking and is usually a bony part that is chopped into thick slices. The neck fillets also come from this are the same muscle but taken off the bone. The neck fillet is brilliant for curry and because these cuts are a bit underrated they are significantly cheaper then other cuts.
This is usually sold as a whole or half a shoulder and tends to be quite fatty and because this is the part of the animal that has worked hard the meat can be fibrous. Personally I prefer not to use shoulder for Indian dishes that are cooked in a sauce. I love to cook shoulder low and slow for up to 6 hours either marinated or rubbed with spices. This is also where mince lamb usually comes from.
Called this as its where the most tender cut of lamb is from. The first 8 ribs or 'The rack' can be trimmed to expose the bone and served in the 'French way'.
This part give the chops which are great grilled and I think lovely in curries (providing you don't mind bones).
This comes from the part where the lower back meets the leg. The chops and steaks from here are usually off the bone and great to add a tandoori marinade and cook on the BBQ.
My personal cut of choice either cooked whole and roasted in the oven or trimmed and cut into chunks for curries.
The lower part of the leg and needs to be cooked slowly or braised so works really well in some Indian sauces.
A fairly fatty cut which is best roasted slowly to leave a lovely tasting meat.
Always go for mince that has more red meat then white fatty bits (cheap lamb mince can be very fatty). It's always a good idea to ask the butcher to mince a piece of meat for you (or do it yourself). For some nice mince that's full of flavour go for scrag, neck or belly. Shoulder is also good, but for a leaner mince try mixing it from a cut like leg which is less fatty.Back to Cooking guides