Mirchi Qorma (Kashmiri Lamb in Chile Sauce)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


Tender lamb simmers in a fiery sauce in this recipe from Ahdoo's Hotel in Srinagar, Kashmir. It is one of 30 or so lamb dishes that composes the 36-dish Kashmiri celebration feast called the wazwaan, a legacy of the 15th-century Turko-Mongol conquerer Timur. He brought with him to Kashmir 1,700 skilled workers, including cooks; today, their descendents, the wazas, butcher whole lambs, breaking them down for dishes such as this succulent, spicy stew. This recipe, from Ahdoo's Hotel in Srinagar, first appeared in our August/September 2014 special India issue with Betsy Andrews' story Perfect Union.


  • 6 dried Kashmiri chiles or pasilla chiles, stemmed
  • 2 small red Thai chiles or 1 red jalapeño, stemmed
  • 2 lb. lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 14 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. kala jeera (black cumin seeds)
  • 10 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
  • 2 Indian or regular bay leaves
  • 14 cup tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp. dried mint
  • 1 tbsp. red chile powder, such as cayenne
  • Kosher salt, to taste


Step 1

Heat a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high. Cook dried chiles until lightly toasted, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor; add fresh chiles and 1 cup water. Purée until smooth and return to pan. Add lamb, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, and 3 cups water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until lamb is very tender, about 1 hour. Transfer lamb mixture to a bowl.

Step 2

Wipe pan clean; heat oil over medium-high. Cook cumin seeds, garlic, and bay leaves until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Add reserved lamb mixture, the tamarind paste, 1 tbsp. mint, the chile powder, and salt; boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until thickened, about 1 hour. Garnish with remaining mint.

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