Lamb Curry with California Figs and Fenugreek

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Lamb Curry with Figs

Learn how to make lamb curry at home. It’s full of tender meat and is deeply spiced, cooking all that goodness into the figs which also add a touch of sweetness.

Lamb curry with figs over brown rice in a wide white bowl

The first thing is to make sure you have your mise en place prepared before cooking. “Mise en place” means “everything in its place, and is a practice that truly helps execute recipes as written. The mise en place is what is described in the ingredients section, so as in this example, pureeing the garlic and ginger ahead of time.

When it comes to figs, Indian cooking uses “anjeer” in a number of ways. We have a recipe that’s great around Diwali using the figs in coins for Anjeer Barfi, Fig Walnut Halwa, and Upside-Down Jaggery Fig Cake. For the savory recipe below, we suggest using either Sun-Maid or Orchard Choice California Dried Mission Figs. They have a fig fruit-forward flavor that pairs well with the bold spices of the curry.

Lamb Curry with Figs

Tips for How to Make Lamb Curry at Home

A key to awakening the spices is to “bloom” them, also known as tempering them. This is done by heating oil until shimmering and then adding in the spices. They will become fragrant and are a building block upon which the dish is made. This recipe below starts with caramelizing onion first. You’ll then stir in garlic and ginger, along with the ground spices.

For the lamb curry, use leg of lamb per the recipe below. Lamb shoulder would need to cook significantly longer as it’s a cut that’s better for braising. The leg of lamb is cut into medium-sized cubes. Cutting them to the same size means they will cook uniformly.

Other elements in the dish include fresh ginger and garlic along with the ground spices. One reason for that is that these aromatics often bring a different flavor when dried and ground versus fresh. Fresh ginger is floral and piquant, as an example. Jalapeños are called for in the recipe, but dried cayenne chiles that have been ground make a good substitute.

Fresh chopped tomatoes or crushed canned tomatoes add an umami quality to the sauce as well as texture.

What to Serve on the Side

Basmati rice is our go-to side dish.

Lamb Curry with California Figs and Fenugreek

Lamb Curry with California Figs is better than takeout. Here’s how to make lamb curry, your next favorite dish to make for dinner.
Lamb Curry with Figs
Servings 4 servings


  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion sliced thin
  • 4 large cloves garlic pureed
  • 1 piece fresh ginger 1 1/2 inches, peeled and pureed
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless leg of lamb trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon table salt plus more to taste
  • 3 plum tomatoes chopped, plus 1 tablespoon juice, or 2/3 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño chile stemmed and cut in half through the stem end
  • ¼ cup Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs chopped coarse
  • 2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  • Heat oil in large deep skillet or soup kettle, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add onion to skillet; sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic, ginger, lamb, ground spices, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and tomatoes; cook, stirring almost constantly, until liquid evaporates, oil separates and turns orange, and spices begin to fry, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on skillet or kettle size. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until spices smell cooked, about 30 seconds longer.
  • Add 2 cups water, jalapeño, and figs, and season with salt; bring to simmer. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until meat is tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Stir in cilantro. Simmer 3 minutes longer and serve.


NOTES: Gather and prepare all of your ingredients before you begin. Garlic and ginger may be pureed by hand or in a mini-chop food processor. If using a mini-chopper, process the garlic and ginger with one to two tablespoons of water until pureed. You may substitute a scant half teaspoon of cayenne pepper for the jalapeño, adding it to the skillet with the other ground dried spices. Feel free to increase the wet (garlic, ginger, jalapeños, and onions) or dry spice quantities. Serve the curry with basmati rice. *Note from Valley Fig Growers: Fenugreek seeds, which come whole and ground, are used to flavor many foods including curry powders, spice blends and teas.
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Recipe source: America’s Test Kitchen. Valley Fig is a proud sponsor of the America’s Test Kitchen.

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