Rick Stein’s India – Cooking the one pot wonder of Lamb Dopiaza

Rick Steins India

In common with many of you I was glued to Rick Stein‘s TV Series about India and took the first opportunity that I had to purchase a copy of the book that accompanied the series. Well when I say first opportunity, I waited until Asda (other supermarkets also discount) had it on special offer (Sorry Rick). A couple of years ago I spent quite a bit of time working and living in Hyderabad which is in Andra Pradesh and famed for biryani. Somehow I seemed to miss eating or even seeing all of this delicious food that Rick was getting his hands on, but I ate enough to pretty much stop my enjoyment of going to get an Indian meal in the UK as it just didn’t seem to be the same. Watching his show, however whet my appetite and reinvigorated my desires to get back into the kitchen to rustle up some Indian delights.

Lamb Dopiaza Rick Stein

The Lamb Dopiaza that he describes in his book (page 238 to be precise) is a true one pot wonder. Not only is it all cooked in just the one pot, but you just stick all the ingredients into that same pot at the start and cook slowly for 2 hours or so until it is ready. I am starting right at the end here by showing you the finished article on the plate and in the pot, but perhaps I should step back for a moment and just describe how easy it is to prepare this dish, and yes it is worth making it and reading on.


The Lamb (about 500g) gets put into the pot, no browning just straight in there to wait for all of its friends from the Dopiaza party to join it. In India they probably would be doing this dish with goat, I was trying to get mutton, but we got this older lamb (perhaps on the verge of its mutton birthday) at the Covered market in Oxford.

A lot of onions

You need a whole lot of onions, it’s supposed to be a kilo but I just cut up everything that I had and it was about the same. Most of the time I would expect to be cooking these down a bit, perhaps until soft and lightly colored. No in this recipe you just throw them into the big pot.

Dopiaza Recipe Spices

Most of the preparation to create the flavor is basically a bit of chopping and a bit of measuring out from the pantry. On the board above we have 15g of chopped ginger, about 6-7 cloves of chopped garlic, salt, whole coriander seed, whole cumin seed, cloves, whole black pepper seed, cinnamon sticks, and some green cardomon pods. There is no grinding, no roasting to release the flavours, no softly cooking the garlic or ginger, nope in this recipe you just tip the whole lot into that big pot.


Curry at time minus 2 hours

Apart from all those bits and pieces, there was just some turmeric, natural yoghurt, Kashmiri chilli, some ghee (or butter) , and water to add to the pot. A big old mix up, then heat it up to the boil, reduce to a simmer, put a lid on and sit down to wait for a couple of hours. That is really all that there is too it. Sure you can fish out bits of uncooked lamb and onion on numerous occasions just to prove and clarify that it really does take 2 hours to cook, or you could make some naan or similar while you are waiting, I did both of those, but I spent most of the time feeling hungry and sniffing the aromatic air in the kitchen and all over the house, and probably up all the way up the avenue as well.

Rick Steins Dopiaza

It really is worth the wait, and the minimal efforts required to prepare it. It was nothing like any Dopiaza that I have had from any Indian Resturant in the UK. It was fairly hot from the Kashmiri chilli, but not too hot to distract you from the rest of the flavor. The onions which having been cooked slowly release a super sweetness into the dish, the yogurt added a nice sharp almost citric tartness. The lamb was just so tender it was falling apart. You don’t really need any rice, a naan or other Indian bread would suffice. I did add in a good pound of mushrooms with about an hour to go (that wasn’t in the recipe in the book) and they cooked down absorbing all the spice flavor as they did. If I was a vegetarian then I think I would be happy enough making a Mushroom Dopiaza instead. I am sure that you could make this with Chicken, but I think that the longer cooking time really gave time to let all the spices marry together and develop the sauce or gravy as they prefer to call it in India (yes Rick we were listening).

I am not going to reproduce Rick’s Recipe from the book (without permission) I have probably given enough away already. If you cant work it out from the pictures above, well you can always buy a copy I suppose or (not recommended) have a look at the book in the shop. It is available from all good stores and some not so good as well I imagine. He does give us a lot of the recipes from the book  on the BBC website so check those out.

my pantry

All I can say is that it was really easy, and I would say way better than any takeaway that you will buy. Ok you do need a good pantry, and it is worth building one up slowly as it opens up a whole world of flavor. Check more of Rick Stein’s recipes out on his website, and if you are passing my house and you smell something Indian in origin, well I am probably reading his book Rick Stein’s India which you can buy on his website

Categories: Cookbook | Tags: , , , | 44 Comments

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44 thoughts on “Rick Stein’s India – Cooking the one pot wonder of Lamb Dopiaza

  1. I loved this programme, I want to make SO many things from it! I was surprised by the Indian desserts too.

  2. Now I am an experienced cook and, just to get me started with Rick Stein’s book, I decided to make his Lamb Dopiaza. It was dreadful and we ended up having to eat out! I thought that I must have done something really stupid so I checked the recipe again – all correct. I did a second check against the photo of the ingredients you have posted here – looked the same. What do I say? Way over the top in terms of the cloves; far too fiery with the quantities of chilli and black pepper given (and I like spicy food!); and “until most of the liquid has been absorbed” – didn’t happen. A completely imbalanced recipe entirely.

    I am going to have to find a way of rescuing this disaster due to the money I have poured into the ingredients, but I am now not at all certain about this book. I am going to try a few more of the recipes but, as I sit and write now, this has been a most upsetting experience, brought about by a food personality that i have always admired.

    • That is a shame, I enjoyed the dish that I ended up with. I did think that perhaps the amount of salt in the recipe was not correct so I only put about half as much in. I used ground Kashmiri chilli and only put about a teaspoon and a half in, so that probably reduced the fire as mine was not too spicy at all, it was probably just on the edge. I didn’t really notice the cloves being too much, but it was a very different flavour from that which you will get from a Dopiaza in an English Curry House. It was much closer to the food you will get in India, so it would be hard to compare the two.
      Hopefully you will try something else in the book, let me know if you have any better enjoyment or success next time around

      • About to get Rick’s book out again, having had some great success with my 30 year old book by Michael Pandya recently. I haven’t decided on what to cook yet, but I will comment again in the near future.


      • pamela

        I sent an email to Rick Stein at his restaurant regarding the SALT issue. His assistant kindly forwarded his reply regarding the SALT. It seems he has been contacted about this before for this particular recipe and has re-tested the recipe. He stands by the amount. He said there is 1 kilo, 2.2 lbs of onions, 500g, more than 1 lb of lamb, 500g, 2 cups of yogurt plus 1 cup of water in the dish. I also wonder that perhaps he is not using table salt. If a more course salt is used, there would be less salt by weight for the same volume. Ultimately, we should add seasonings according to our own particular preference. For example, I love Indian food but I personally can’t eat food with lots of red peppers. I have to reduce the amount of red pepper and cayenne pepper.

    • Martin

      I had the exact same problem, what was all that liquid going to absorb into?Too watery!

      • The water evaporates as you cook, if you started with half as much liquid the sauce would have dried up and the dish burnt before the end of the cooking time. It’s not a 5 minute sauce, it takes a few hours

    • Joanne Reed

      I cooked the Chicken Passanda, it was gorgeous, well cooked it twice in one week as it was so good, give that one a try!

    • Martin Snelling

      I totally agree with everything you have said, I also have not bothered with any of the other recipes in this book and have turned to the Hairy Bikers curry book instead.

    • W Hollick

      It’s a shame to read that your dopiaza didn’t turn out the way you hoped. I followed the recipe with only a minor tweak and it turned out perfectly. After reading your comments about it being too spicy I used only 6 kashmiri chillies and the spice level was tingly hot but not unpleasant. Kashmiri chillies really aren’t very hot so if anyone is going to use a different variety of chilli be careful!
      For anyone doubting the salt quantity in the book, it is correct. Indian’s do use a lot of salt in their cooking but if it’s not to anyone’s taste just add as you go. The dish was delicious and certainly wasn’t overly salty.
      For the the sauce not reducing – I simmered for an hour with the lid on, then an hour and a half with it off. The book says 2 hours simmering and in my opinion it wasn’t 100% clear on whether to leave the lid on or off, but most amateur cooks will know to leave it off if you want it to reduce and thicken.

      I will definitely be adding this dish to my arsenal. Allow three hours from raw ingredients in the cupboard to a cooked dopiaza on your plate… not a quick dish but very simple and worth the wait.

      • John Glanville

        This is nonsense. I regularly cook curries from different books and for a curry for 4 people, you never use 1.5 tablespoons of salt. It is clearly a ‘typo’ and should read 1.5 teaspoons.

      • I don’t think at any point I say you should use that much salt. It might say that in the book and maybe that is a typo. To be honest there does seem to be a few in the book, but all I was writing about back then Was how I quite liked the dish. I don’t really use this blog any more but left it online as for some reason a lot of people seem to read this particular post. All cooking is done to taste anyway and blindly following a recipe is just like painting by numbers ie not much fun or demonstrative of ability. So lucky you can spot an error. Have you tried cooking it anyway? It’s pretty tasty, if you just adapt as you go along.

      • W Hollick

        Hi John – Yes of course there’s a chance the book could be wrong…
        When I first met my partner who’d lived in India for a while I was shocked by the quantity of salt she used in the curries that she’d learnt to cook out there (they do tend to use quite a bit). I’m just speculating but with other books they may adapt the salt quantity to what us Brits are more used to. What I enjoy about Rick’s book however is that the recipes came straight from the people he met and ate with whilst out there in India.

        The type of salt we use will also have an effect on the overall taste – A cheaper refined table salt will usually be more bitter which may be why some people say their curry tasted bad. Natural sea salt or the pink Himalayan salt you can buy tends to have a better flavour and be a bit healthier.

        Either way, whether the book’s right or wrong it’s best to just add a little salt as you go to suit your own preference.

        Happy cooking!

    • D

      Just cooked this… quality! Stunningly simple to cook 🙂

  3. Paul

    I’ve just cooked and eaten the lamb dopiaza and loved it. Much better than UK Indian restaurants. One problem was trying to get the sauce to reduce as it seemed the ghee and yogurt tended to separate. Do you put the lid on before you bring it up to boil or after when you start simmering – my wife says I should have left the lid off during the boil step. First time I’ve cooked with ghee, what am I doing wrong.

    • Yes I brought the mix up to the boil slowly with the lid off, and then turned it down to simmer, I didn’t put the lid on until it was simmering. It does look like it is separating as you will get a bit of oil floating at the start, but once it gets towards the end of the cooking period and you take the lid off to let the sauce thicken and it becomes a bit thicker that had gone away. I could have left my longer to get it even thicker, but I wanted a little bit of sauce left. The only other thing was that I probably cooked the whole thing for about 45mns-1hr longer just to get the meat really tender as I was using slightly older lamb or hoggart. I think that the main thing was not having it at boil for too long I kept stirring to make sure it all heated evenly before dropping to the simmer. The main thing though is that if you loved it and it tasted nice, then you cannot have been doing too much wrong 🙂

  4. Far too much salt in the recipe, 1 1/2 tablespoons. Inedible. I will try again with about a teaspoon of salt.

  5. Scott

    The recipe says 1 1/2 tbsp of salt! Should this be 1 1/2 tsp?!

    • It does seem a lot, I used less, but I know that watching Rick on TV he says he likes salt.
      Its not my recipe its Ricks so you could always tweet him and ask

      • rebeccaizgi@hotmail.co.uk

        Hi, I had the same issue and contacted the great legend.. apparently in the part of India where this recipe came from, they are great fans of salt and it is not a typo….. just make it with less.. it’s fab! The Butter Chicken is awesome as are the First Class Railway Mutton (using lamb shank) and the Mr Singhs Lamb with Cardamon!!!

  6. matt

    I tried this out the other day and have to say its a pretty decent curry and I cook a fair few to know. Yes you need to make some tweaks here’s what I did different. Half a tbsp of salt only required, near the end added a couple of teaspoons of wheatflour to thicken the sauce as yes it is watery otherwise. This actualy was the saviour and I highly recommend having some in as it’s useful for all kinds of cooking. I added red pepper and red chillies for the last hour which adds to the taste and presentation and like with any good curry add some coriander leaf prior to serving. Everything else as per the recipie. I’ll be trying more out from this book now for sure as it seems its much more authentic than other Indan cook books. Enjoy!

  7. podmarsh

    RS has made a big mistake here…The sauce does not reduce and the salt is disaster. How can we tell him to change the recipe on page 238 of his book that we have paid £25 for and wasted a tenners worth of ingredients….dont suppose he cares!

  8. Linda S

    So far I have tried six or seven of the curries in this book and have to agree that the taste is so authentic BUT some of the quantities are way out. For instance when cooking the Cod Curry on page 172 – I was cooking for 2 not 4 so halved the quantities – I used 4 Kashmiri chillies which made it almost too hot to eat [and I too like spicy food].No way would I use the 25 dried chillies listed in the Red Chilli Lamb on page 234 !!!!!!! However, saying the above I will carry on using this book but feel that it is for experienced cooks only – those who can adapt a recipe from their own experience. If the recipes had been ‘double tested’ then the anomalies would have been ironed out and made a good book excellent.

    • borderbonkers

      Linda, do try that recipe with the lamb and all the chillies it is glorious! It is hot but a warming heat goes through you.

  9. Janice

    I had the same problem with the dopiaza being watery after two hours of cooking, it also tasted rather bland. I followed the recipe exactly except for only using three dried chillies and no salt (I prefer to add it after), which probably explained the blandness.

    I added a little salt, some ground black pepper, a tea spoon of Kashmiri chilli powder and one of garam masala. Then I turned up the heat to a fierce simmer without the lid on until the sauce had reduced to the proper grainy cream texture and consistency – about 10 minutes. The end result was delicious – thankfully.

    I had similar problem with too much liquid for the chicken and apricot curry recipe and I think it’s because the original dishes were cooked in a karahi i.e. a wide, relatively shallow pan rather than the deep, relatively narrow pan that I used. So next time I do one for these karahi dishes I’ll use less water or simmer on a higher heat.

    I’ve made the sour berry chicken pulao (using dried cranberries) and the chicken passanda with no trouble at all and they were really delicious and the paneer jalfrezi has become a week day regular
    I love the recipes and will do more but I do agree that the you need to be a fairly experienced cook for some of them – even the seemingly simple dopiaza.

  10. Miia

    Amazing curry!! I love dopiaza and this turned out to be one of the best versions I’ve ever had – definitely better than your run of the mill takeout! I guess the hotness level is very subjective, as I plan to add to the amount of chili next time 🙂

  11. nick s

    Oh dear! The whole lot went in the bin. The sauce was split with curdled yoghurt swimming in ghee. I didn’t put in as much salt as recommended but will not follow this recipe again. I tried his lamb rogan josh and that was excellent but would not suggest this is a good recipe to follow. Pretty vile to be honest.

  12. Interesting to see the comments re salt – we don’t use salt at all (having a toddler) except in bread and added to chips, so I omitted it entirely the first time I made it. IIRC I also used fresh chillis as that’s what I had. It was fantastic – making it again tonight but have lent the book, hence finding this page!

    I find a lot of curry recipes (and others for that matter) anticipate a lot more evaporation than is possible – I’ve seen “add a pint of stock and simmer until reduced to a thick sauce – 5-10 minutes” before! Yeah, right! Now I add a little at a time and cook with the lid off at the end – I ended up with a thick gravy when I made this, moreso than illustrated here (the mushrooms will add liquid of course).

    @Linda S – the 25-chilli Laas Mas I have made from a different book and it’s not as fiery as I expected – hot of course but no more so than many restaurant Madras or Jalfrezi dishes (actually it was more heat from the cloves than chilli).

  13. Christian

    Cook this yesterday and have to say a lot of the comments are correct… however if you make a couple of changes and note a couple of things then this is a great dish…

    1. Yes the yogurt and ghee will split and look not so great at the beginning… dont worry it will comes together in the end…

    2. You need to use Kashmiri chilis (they are not too not) and most importantly they add the red colour to the dish.. use less than rick if you dont want it hot.. maybe 6-8.. and if you dont have kashmiri chilli’s use dried red ones (4-5) and add 2-3 tbsp paprika to get the colour right…

    3. It will never reduce with the lid on, so cook 1hr with the lid on and then 1 – 1 1/2 hr with the lid off, you could always turn it up for 20mins at the end to get rid of more liquid… you dont want it super dry either…

    4. Salt Salt Salt… this is a matter of taste really… we eat less salt in the UK and therefore anything “correctly” salted for an indian palate… I tend to use course sea salt flakes and 1 1/2 tbsp was perfect for this recipe… fine ground table salt is always a bit more powerful and chefs should say which one they are using to help us out (nigella points out how much salt to use for example depending on the type you are using in some of her books…)

    This is a great recipe, it just needs a bit of tweaking and is worth it… because it is soooo easy to make!

    Interesting comment about the karchi above… maybe I need to get myself one…

  14. cristoforo

    I am so surprised at all the negative comments here. I made the dopiaza for friends and they said it was one of the best curry’s they ever ate. When I told them how simple it was to prepare I don’t think they believed me. I made the 15 min pickled onion salad from the back of the book which was a great accompaniment for the rich lamb. Some simple rice, a few chapatis and the obligatory cold beers and the story was complete. Great stuff . .

  15. I can’t thank you enough for posting this recipe! I know it’s Rick’s but I found it through you 😀 I’m hosting a big party tomorrow so have been cooking all day – various curries, sauces, side dishes but I wanted this Lamb Dopiaza to be the main event.

    I live in Spain and don’t have the cook book so have had to go ‘blind’ in regards to quantities for this recipe. Having read previous comments I erred on the side of caution and added less than a pint of water at the beginning (topping up as necessary) I also noted that peeps had a problem with separation when the yoghurt was added. To get round this I was bold and added about 1/2 pint full fat Greek yoghurt and a large pat of butter – hence no separation. In regards to the amount of salt, I added a dessert spoon full but when I tasted it later, it was far too salty. A tablespoon full of sugar sorted it out and a bit more yoghurt sorted it out.

    • Thanks Lottie, I am glad that you were able to use your common sense and cookery skills to make the recipe work. Quite a few people seem to have had a few issues with it, but I just tweak it as you have done. It was a very tasty recipe and I thought it worked well. I liked your suggestion of using the Greek Full Fat Yoghurt. Hope you had a good party!

      • We had a great party, thank you! Everyone loved the lamb, lots of compliments – a big thumbs up so I shall definitely be making it again ( and again!) 😀

  16. I am an hour in, so interesting tips…lid off now! Added 12 fresh curry leaves and a pinch of saffron strands…just because I had them and I love them. Also added some red peppers as that sounded like a nice tough

  17. Jill

    We made this curry last night I too found it didn’t reduce till I took the lid off the pan!….d’oh!!!! Of course it’s common sense but when you are a rick devotee and want to follow his recipes accurately…………..

    So cooked it about an extra 1 1/2 hours to reduce and then tonight when we ate it heated it up and added a little extra natural yogurt and coriander and it was delicious!! I would maybe put a couple less kashmiri chillies as just slightly too hot for me.

    It does look split and greasy with the ghee at first but if you leave it and persevere it will end up ok! 😉

  18. Alex Leslie

    Cooked this last night and agree with lots of the comments re; the amount of liquid. After the two hours cooking time I used a slotted spoon, fished out all the ingredients, reduced the sauce then added the ingredients to heat through. This worked perfectly with nothing sticking to the bottom of the pan. Using sea salt flakes with the quantity required did not make it too salty. I would, however, use fewer onions. I felt that there were way too many. But still a good curry. Someone mentioned the chicken curry with apricots and potato straws. I’ve been cooking this recipe for years from Madhur Jaffrey’s A Taste of India and is brilliant!!!!!

  19. pamela

    Hello. I have seen the shows and I have Rick’s book! But I haven’t made this yet. I have a question. Were you bothered by all the whole spices just added at the beginning. They are not ground. I read a review of this recipe elsewhere where the writer complained bitterly about the whole spices making the dish very gritty. Would it be a good idea to put all the whole spices in some sort of a muslin wrap to be removed later? Or is it not an issue. No one else seems to mention that point.

    Also about the salt. I want to check his book again. A lot of chefs and cooking blog writers use kosher salt which is a very large grained salt. If you follow their recipes but you use regular table salt you will be adding more salt to the recipe. Not all salts can be interchanged. There was recently a big discussion about that on a couple of blogs because the writer of the blog didn’t mention that she was using kosher salt and people were saying the dishes were too salty. I wonder if Rick is using kosher salt… or if Indian people use larger grained salts?? They say if a recipe calls for Kosher salt, you should only use about 2/3 the amount of table salt. It is more dense.

    By the way, I loved his show and I will watch it again. And I simply LOVE his cookbook. It is a beautiful book! So colorful and so many photos. I would have loved more photos of the dishes actually.

  20. bjalc

    Tried it with 5 dried chillies – way too hot, but the salt issue raised above by many people is definitely the main problem. If using normal sea salt don’t use anywhere near the 1.5 tbsp listed. Inedible.

  21. I love this curry, it’s so simple, and so tasty, most of the comments about this curry, say there is to much liquid, my advice would be to cook for one our with the lid on, and the second hour, without the lid, the sause then reduces and thickens up nicely, I did this curry with chicken thighs, and it was amazing, the sweetness of the onions are wonderful, it’s a must try recipe!!!!

  22. Craig

    I think with Indian food you can just add what you like to be fair I used the base but added curry leaves fresh chillies and the stable of a good curry – turmeric garamasla hot chilli power plus 2 green chillies fresh garlic and ginger cumin and coriander to serve plus chopped toms I served this with lamb M&S Bombay pots and naans even the 14 year old ate the lot!! Craig Durham ciy

  23. Peter

    Hi no issue with the salt but cannot be done with soughting through my food before eating it took me twenty mins to sought through my food and another dish to put the in very easy to make but a disaster to eat ,this isnt authentic indian quisine we lived in india for 6 years and never eaten so much bit and bobs i a curry

  24. Anil Mehra

    I;m a huge Rick Stein fan and have made about 6 lamb/ mutton/fish/ veg recipes and they have all come out perfectly. Going to now make a Lamb Biryani tomorrow. I have 2 of his books that i refer to.

  25. A&G

    We are big fans of Rick’s recipes and have just cooked his lamb dopiaza for the first time. Whilst the flavours were amazing and the lamb was meltingly tender we also had a big problem with the saltiness. When we saw the quantity in the recipe we cut it back to 1 tablespoon but it was still too much. And despite being sceptical about how much the liquid would reduce with the lid on, we decided to be true to the recipe. Should have trusted our better instincts and left it off. Such a shame because it has the makings of a delicious dish. Disappointed with the accuracy of the recipe.

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