12 black peppercorns
8 green cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
16 fresh or 24 frozen curry leaves, torn into pieces
2 whole dried red chiles
1 bay leaf
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, or ¼ cup ground blanched almonds
3 medium red onions
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4 garlic cloves
A 2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 pounds well- trimmed boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1- to 1 ½ inch pieces
2 teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
½ cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
3 cup water
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro.
For the spice paste, combine the ingredients in a spice grinder and grind to a paste, using a little water if you need to. Set aside.
Chop one of the onions, and cut the remaining two into large chunks. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and the salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion just begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the onion chunks, the garlic, and ginger in a food processor and process to a paste; set aside.
When the onion has browned, add the spice paste and the lamb. Cook, stirring often, until the lamb begins to brown, 6 to 7 minutes. (If the lamb doesn’t brown, turn up the heat). Add the pureed onion mixture and cook, stirring, until the mixture is dry and the oil begins to separate, about 10 more minutes.
Add the coriander and cayenne and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is dry again and the meat is beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
Add the water and garam masala, stir well and simmer, covered, until the lamb is tender, 35, to 40 more minutes. Just befor serving, add the cream, if using, and bring to a near-simmer. Taste for salt. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot.