Lamb, Sweet Potato, and Coconut Mafé Curry


Perfectly tender lamb shoulder and creamy sweet potatoes balanced by floral coriander, warming turmeric and cumin, and piquant ginger and ground mustard make this West African curry a cozy delight. Fonio is a tiny grain that packs a nutritional punch and provides the perfect base for soaking up the flavorful curry sauce.

Lamb, Sweet Potato, and Coconut Mafé Curry
Photo: Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins


Curry Powder

  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, divided

  • 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces

  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 medium [8-ounce] onion)

  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper (from 1 small [7-ounce] bell pepper)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger (from 1 [2-inch] piece ginger)

  • 1 medium garlic clove, chopped (about 1 teaspoon)

  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (preferably natural and unsweetened)

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 cup chopped tomato (from 1 small [7-ounce] tomato)

  • 3 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 large (16-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

  • 1 to 2 habanero chiles (about 3/4 ounce) (to taste), stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

Additional Ingredients

  • Cooked fonio (see Note)

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Make the curry powder:

  1. Combine coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, mustard, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, and cayenne in a small bowl; whisk to combine. Set aside 2 tablespoons curry powder; store remaining curry powder for another use in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 months.

Make the curry:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. Toss together lamb and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Working in 2 batches, add lamb to pot, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer browned lamb to a separate medium bowl; loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

  2. Do not wipe pot clean. Reduce heat under pot to medium. Add onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cook, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add reserved 2 tablespoons curry powder; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add peanut butter and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste mixture turns a dark red-mahogany color, about 2 minutes. Return lamb to pot, along with any juices that may have accumulated in bowl. Add chopped tomato; stir until lamb pieces are coated in tomato paste mixture. Slowly stir in broth, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Cover pot; reduce heat to low, and simmer until lamb is tender, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring bottom of pot once or twice toward end of cook time. Stir in sweet potato, coconut milk, habanero, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Increase heat to medium-high, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, until sweet potato is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice. Spoon curry over cooked fonio, and sprinkle with parsley.

Make Ahead

Curry powder can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 months.


Boneless lamb shoulder can be found at most grocery stores or butchers. Fonio can be found at Whole Foods or at

Suggested Pairing

Generous, plummy red: Toad Hollow Sonoma County Merlot

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