Lamb & Eggplant Tikka Masala ~ tikka masala is probably the most popular Indian dish on the planet, and with good reason…it’s creamy, aromatic, and so satisfying!


My Chicken Tikka Masala was so good I could hardly wait to try other versions.  Chicken is the most common, but tikka masala  is also made with lamb, fish, or the Indian cheese, paneer.  I planned a vegetarian dish, but at the last minute switched to lamb and eggplant, that combination is so lush.  I love curries of all kinds, but Tikka Masala (tikka meaning ‘chunks’ or ‘bits’, and masala meaning a mix of spices)  is a gentler dish, where the spices are more muted and the focus is on large chunks of marinated and then grilled meat.  The sauce is tomato based, and the distinctive bright orange color comes from the addition of heavy cream, or, in this case, coconut milk, which I think is a little lighter and balances out the richness of the lamb. Tikka masala was actually invented in British Indian restaurants, so it’s not authentically Indian, but more of a 20th century fusion dish.  If you’re not familiar with Indian food and you want to ease into it, this is a good one to start with.

I used a dry saute method for the chunks of eggplant, which I love because it intensifies the flavor and avoids the issue of the eggplant soaking up fat or oil like a sponge.   In spite of the long list of spices, this dish is very quick to put together, especially if you mix the meat and marinade in the morning, or better yet, the night before.  Serve the tikka masala with basmati rice and some yogurt and chutney on the side.  It’s pure fall comfort food, with a kick.


Lamb & Eggplant Tikka Masala

Yield: serves 4-6


    for the lamb
  • 1 lb good quality lamb, cut in large pieces
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
    for the sauce:
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 10 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 4 small dried hot chilies, crushed, seeds and all (adjust to suit your taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 28 oz can of good quality crushed tomatoes (you can use whole tomatoes and crush them yourself)
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish


  1. Put the lamb, yogurt, and spices in a bowl and mix until everything is well combined and the lamb is completely coated.. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (or even better, overnight) to marinate.
  2. Put the meat on a foil covered baking sheet (leave the yogurt coating on) and put under the broiler for about 10 minutes until the surface starts to char. The lamb will not be completely cooked, it will finish cooking in the sauce. Set the meat aside.
  3. For the sauce, heat the 3 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot and saute the onions, tomato paste, spices, garlic and ginger and salt for abut 10 minutes, stirring often so it won't scorch.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Meanwhile cut the eggplant in large bite sized chunks. Heat a cast iron skillet (or similar pan) over medium high heat. Add the eggplant (with no oil) to the pan and saute, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the eggplant is softened and browned, but still firm, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut milk, cilantro, lamb and eggplant to the sauce and cook gently for about 30 minutes. You can partially cover the top if the sauce seems thick.
  7. Check the seasonings and adjust if necessary. Garnish with more cilantro, and serve with basmati rice and yogurt..


The tikka masala will improve with age, so make it ahead of time if you want,


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17 Responses to Lamb & Eggplant Tikka Masala

  1. Marion says:

    Hi ! Do you think i could make a version with the slow cooker ? still process with the marinade and the broiling, make the first part of the sauce in the pan and finish with the coconut milk etc in the slow cooker, with the meat and the browned eggplant ?

    you think what ? 2/3 hours on high for the lamb to be tender and shred ?

    Thanks in advance for your response :)

    • Sue says:

      That should work fine, I think Marion. Depending on your slow cooker, mine seems to run hot, I think 3 hours should work!

  2. Karen says:

    Your website is pure heaven for a foodie like me.

  3. Jen says:

    I thought I posted this comment before but it seems not to be appearing. I am currently marinating the lamb and need to find out what level of heat the stove should be at when sauteing the onions and spices and when you are cooking everything for the 30 minutes? You don’t say but you do say to stir onions so they don’t scorch. Does that mean they should be done on higher? So is medium heat good for both? Please help!

    • Sue says:

      Hi Jen– Medium heat should be fine, everyone’s stove works a little differently, so it’s hard to specify exactly. For the 30 minutes, a gentle simmer is perfect, so probably medium heat as well. Hope this helps!

  4. What a gorgeous dish and the colors are so brilliant. My family all loves lamb. Great combination of flavors too.

  5. I love eggplant, such a tasty tikka masala!

  6. Barbara says:

    Beautiful job, Sue! This has been on my to-do list for ages, I really have to make it this winter. We love both lamb and eggplant, so that would be my choice as well. Be fun to serve it over Faith’s rice dish.

  7. Oh my Sue – I love the idea of eggplant and love Tikka Masala anyway. I’ve made the chicken version and was amazed at the flavor. The coconut milk must be terrific in this dish – really wonderful recipe. I had a dream about you last night. I came to California and met you and your husband and we talked about food. How funny! You were soooo nice :)))

  8. Joanne says:

    I’m going to try your recipe but with paneer and eggplant! I’m literally drooling just thinking about it!

  9. Dom says:

    lamb and eggplant – a wonderful combo and one of my favourites… your dish looks so moreish and pretty too.

  10. This photo made my mouth water and it is only 10.00am in the morning. I love Indian food and this is one of my favourites. I have never put eggplant in mine, an option I might try in the future.

  11. Maria says:

    This looks absolutely amazing. I love chicken tikka masala, and the lamb and eggplant sound delicious in this dish! I can just smell it cooking away…. looks like an amazing dinner!

  12. Eileen says:

    Why don’t I ever make my own tikka masala at home? Clearly it’s more than worth it! This looks fabulous–so rich and thick and totally satisfying.

  13. This is exactly the type of spicy food I like Sue! Lamb and eggplants, I just LOVE them!

  14. Sulpicia says:

    This looks AMAZING! This may be what I will make from the next crop of eggplant in the garden.

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