Saturday, December 26, 2020

RECIPE: Curried Lamb with Turnips and Arugula

There isn't much in the farm store these days, so I've been looking for creative ways to use turnips, cabbage, and carrots.  I pulled out my Indian cookbooks to see if any of them had a turnip recipe and found this one!  It was a bit more work than I wanted to do, so I simplified it.  It was so good, I made again a week later!  

This is a Kashmiri dish and the seasoning was unusual for me - it included fennel powder which I don't often see in a curry recipe.

The first time I made this, I had a small amount of arugula languishing in the fridge and I was craving something green so I chopped it up and added it to my bowl.  My husband saw what I did and wanted some, too!  We liked it so much I add arugula ever time I make this now even though it wasn't part of the original recipe. You could use baby spinach instead.

I have made this with beef instead of lamb and the seasoning works with both proteins.  My husband prefers lamb because it's tenderer (is that a word?).  

Original recipe is from Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi

Curried Lamb with Turnips (and arugula) 

Serves 4

The original recipe calls for salting the turnips to remove some of the bitterness, but I've found that if you use large turnips they are naturally sweeter and you can skip this step.  

She included instructions for making a quick lamb broth seasoned with garlic and bay, but I had some traditionally-seasoned lamb broth from the last time I bought half a lamb, and used that instead.  You can can get away with using water in a pinch but the flavor won't be as complex.  

The other change I made was to use black cardamom seeds rather than the pods, because I didn't have any pods, and I really liked the occasional burst of flavor when I bit into a seed.  I wish I had replaced the green cardamom pods, too, because biting into one of them was unpleasant.


  • 11oz small turnips (larger turnips will be sweeter), cut into 3/4" cubes or slices
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5" fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1.5 pounds stewing lamb
  • 1.5 medium tomatoes, peeled, halved and grated, or 1/4 c. tomato puree, or 1 T. tomato paste
  • 2 c. lamb broth or water
  • 5 T. ghee
  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 t. paprika powder
  • 1 t. turmeric powder
  • 3/4 t. fennel powder
  • 1.5 t. coriander powder
  • 2 black cardamoms (OR 1/4 t. cardamom seeds, OR 1/4 t. ground cardamom)
  • 4 green cardamoms (OR 1/2 t. cardamom seeds, OR 1/2 t. ground cardamom)
  • 1.5" cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
 OPT: one 5oz container baby arugula or baby spinach cut into 1" pieces 


In a frying pan, heat 3 T. ghee and fry the turnips for about 20 minutes until they're pale gold and begin to get a crispy skin.  Remove to a plate.  (If you want, you can skip this step and add the turnips to the pan when you add the tomato and stock but they will not hold their shape as well once they're cooked - the crispy skin holds them together!)

Add 1 T. oil and saute the chopped onions for 20-25 minutes over low to moderate heat until uniformly golden brown.  If the heat is too high, they will brown unevenly.

Add the minced garlic and ginger and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining 1 T. oil, all the spices, the lamb and 2 T. water and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the lamb releases moisture which is then reabsorbed.    

Remove the lid when the meat is almost dry.  With a cooking spoon, stir and turn the meat for 5 minutes.  Continuous stirring allows the spices to come in contact with the heat at the bottom of the pot and develop their flavor.  This is known as the bhuna process.

Season with 2 t. salt, add the tomato, and stir in the stock.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Five minutes before the meat is tender, add the reserved turnips.

When both the meat and turnips are tender, taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.  Turn off the heat, stir in the arugula and serve.  The turnips will absorb some of the liquid as they sit so add more water as required.



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