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My Nepenthe
by Romney Steele

My grandmother's sweet and tangy curry was a family favorite and originally published in Recipes for Living in Big Sur. I have given it a slight update, included measurements, and added Chile for spice. Serve with rice.
Serves 4 to 6


    • 1¼ pounds boneless lamb (shoulder or leg), cubed
    • 1½ tablespoons curry powder
    • 1½ tablespoons flour
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground,
       OR 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
    • 1 dried red chile pepper
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
    • 1/4 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
    • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • 3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk
    • Red pepper flakes (optional)


Dust the lamb with the curry powder, flour, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Toss, using your hands, to thoroughly coat. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide, heavy bottomed large pot. Add the lamb and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits as the meat cooks, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same pot. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, chile, and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and water. Add the apple, pineapple, coconut, raisins, and browned lamb. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the flavors meld.

Stir in the coconut milk and continue simmering for 20 to 30 minutes, until the lamb is cooked through. The curry should be slightly thick and saucy. Add a little coconut milk to thin, as needed. Discard the bay leaf and chile pepper before serving.

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