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Keralan Oven-Braised Lamb Shoulder

By Karan Gokani From Moveable Feast Season 7, Ep.3

Servings: 6 to 8

This tender, fall-off-the-bone lamb is seasoned with a spice blend typical of the Indian state of Kerala, on the Malabar coast. In the episode, chef Karan Gokani used a whole leg of lamb, but a shoulder is easier to source and best for a smaller crowd.


  • For the brine and lamb

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 3-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tbs. peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs. coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. cardamom pods, crushed
  • 4-1/2-lb. bone-in lamb shoulder


For the braise and curry

  • 4 onions, 2 quartered and 2 thinly sliced
  • 3 small chiles, such as Thai bird
  • 3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. cardamom pods, crushed
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs. chile powder or paprika
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  • 1 15-oz. can full-fat coconut milk
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Rotis or bread, for serving
  • Pickled shallots, toasted coconut flakes, and/or thinly sliced ginger, for serving


Make the brine

  • Combine the salt, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, coriander, cloves, and cardamom in a large pot. Add 3 cups water and bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 7 cups ice water and stir to combine. Place the lamb shoulder into brine, and use a small plate on top if necessary to keep the shoulder submerged. Refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 24 hours, turning once halfway through.

Braise the lamb and make the curry

  • Heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the lamb from the brine and pat dry. Place in a large Dutch oven and the add quartered onions, 2 of the chiles, 2 Tbs. of the ginger, and the cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Add 2 cups water and cover. Transfer to the oven and roast until tender, about 4 hours, basting the lamb with the accumulated pan juices every hour and adding water by the cup if the liquid evaporates. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
  • Strain the pan juices from the pot and return the lamb to the oven until browned, about 15 minutes more. Reserve the pan juices.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and season with salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining chile, the remaining 1 Tbs. ginger, the garlic, tomato paste, chile powder, and curry leaves. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, until the ginger and garlic are softened. Add the reserved pan juices and the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until the flavors have melded and the sauce is slightly thickened. Season to taste. Pour the curry over the lamb and top with the cilantro. Serve with rotis or bread, and garnished with pickled shallots, coconut, and ginger, if desired.

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