This bright and colourful Javanese lamb curry recipe is from from Norman Musa’s Bowlful cookbook. He adapted it from Tongseng, a well-known Javanese dish but his version uses pointed cabbage as the sweetest and mildest type, and also ups the amount of cabbage used, providing a healthy balance of protein to vegetables. Freshness from the tomatoes and cabbage makes this an unusually light and refreshing curry dish.
Javanese Lamb Curry
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp palm sugar or soft dark brown sugar
- 600 g (1lb 5oz) leg of lamb, cut into large chunks
- 100 ml (3½fl oz / scant ½ cup) coconut milk
- 200 g (7oz) pointed cabbage, cut into thick pieces
- 4 firm tomatoes, each cut into 8 pieces
- 2 spring onions, cut into pieces 2.5cm (1 in) long
- 4 makrut lime leaves, ribs removed and thinly sliced
- jasmine rice, to serve
For the paste
- 2 banana shallots, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2.5 cm/1in ginger
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, trimmed
- 3 red chillies, deseeded
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
Instead of pointed cabbage, you can use Savoy or round cabbage.
The paste can be prepared in advance and refrigerated; it will keep fresh and fragrant in the fridge for at least 3 days.
Blitz together the paste ingredients with 2 tablespoons of water using a handheld stick blender or food processor until fine and smooth.
Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan over a medium heat and fry the bay leaves for 30 seconds, then stir in the paste and cook for 3 more minutes.
Next, stir in the soy sauce, salt and sugar, stir well and then add the lamb. Stir to coat the lamb and then add 200ml (7fl oz / scant 1 cup) of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.
Add the coconut milk, stir well and then add the cabbage, tomatoes, spring onions and kaffir lime leaves. Continue to cook for 3 minutes until softened.
Turn off the heat and transfer to a large serving bowl. Serve with jasmine rice.
As with many of the recipes in Bowlful, this delicious Javanese lamb curry is quick to make, so it’s ideal for a midweek meal when you’re short on time but looking for lots of flavour.
Made the recipe? Leave a comment below to let us know how you got on!
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This recipe extract from Bowlful: Fresh and vibrant dishes from Southeast Asia by Norman Musa is reproduced with permission from publishers Pavilion. Book photography by Luke J Albert. Home photography by Kavita Favelle.