Sweetbread Curry

In India, one of my favourite dishes is brain curry but in Britain it is easier to buy sweetbreads, unless you live near a Halal butcher. However, sweetbreads also work very well made into a mildly spiced dish which has the same soft creaminess as brains. Serve with basmati rice and a green vegetable — petits pois are nice. If possible, use whole spices which you grind yourself.


  • 450-550 g/1-1¼ lb sweetbreads
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 large onions
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece fresh ginger
  • 2 small fresh red chillies
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 75 g/3 oz butter
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • handful fresh coriander leaves
  • salt


Soak the sweetbreads in water for an hour or two, changing the water once or twice to get rid of all traces of blood. Then pull off as much of the thin, membrane-like skin as you can — but don’t bother to take too much trouble over this. Finally soak the sweetbreads again for about 30 minutes in cold water with the vinegar added to it.

Meanwhile, peel the onions and slice in rings. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Cut the chillies open under running water, discard the seeds and stem and slice into very thin strips.

When the sweetbreads have soaked, drain them and leave on one side.

Put a large, heavy frying pan over a medium heat, add the ground spices and then add 50 g/2 oz of the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft and golden, then add the ginger and chillies and continue stirring for another minute or two. Add the remaining butter and turn the heat down as low as possible. Add the drained sweetbreads, put a lid or a piece of foil over the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes.

Then uncover, stir in the lemon juice, remove from the heat and season with salt. Transfer to a warmed serving dish. If necessary, cover and keep warm in a very low oven while you cook the rice and vegetables. Just before serving, roughly chop the coriander leaves and stir them lightly into the sweetbreads.