Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mamma's Mutton Curry

In my personal opinion, Mutton or Goat Meat has one of the cleanest flavors out of any other meats. My Mutton Curry is the combination based on the Mutton Curry preparations of two of the strongest characters in my Family--My Mom and My Father-in-Law. I have found their recipes for this dish absolutely out-of-this-world-yummy! But
During the hot summer months, Mom used to forego the easily available Chicken (supposed to increase body heat) and buy Mutton instead, which she believed to have a cooling effect on the body.
She used to make it spicy, the heat coming more from the green chilies and ginger rather than the cayenne.
We used to have it with Chapatis or Rice and always with a side of salted yogurt, cooked as a Morucurry or raw as in a Raita.
Years passed but the combinations of spicy Mutton Curry and Yogurt has always been a great source of comfort to me. Yet, the recipe of the Mutton Curry was pretty much hazy to me.
When I got married, my Father-in-law surprised me with the best Mutton Curry I have ever tasted and inspired me to pay more attention to spices and cooking techniques. His Mutton Curry was a full-flavored curry, but less spicier than Mom's. He never used oil in his curry but his secret was the mutton fat bought separately from the butcher, in which her fried the marinated pieces of meat in its own juices, spiced delicately with his secret spice mix.
When he was diagnosed with heart disease, the women of the family made it their personal business to cut down the fats and make him, healthy and wholesome food. Animal fat had to go! But we didn't have the heart to deny him his favorite Mutton Curry once in a while. My MIL, being a vegetarian, passed down to me the responsibility of cooking the meat for him.
Now, I had to make sure it tasted good, to his liking and also was was safe for his heart.
So I used his spice mixes and Mom's techniques and made this Curry.

To make a long story short, he loved it. The price I had to pay for it is that he doesn't make his version anymore. He just buys the meat and gives it to me, with a smile. That does it for me! :-)
Hope you all like this recipe too.

Ingredients:- Mutton (not lamb) : about 3 lbs (shoulder or leg works best. Also make sure you have bones in the meat. Fewer things in this world are as yummy as the bone marrow from the goat bones, smothered in the gravy.)- cut into bite sized pieces.
1-inch piece of cinnamon- 2
Star anise- 1 whole and a couple broken pieces
1 bay leaf
6 Cloves
1 large Black Cardamom

Red Onions: 3 large, peeled and chopped into thin slices
Green Chillies : about 10-12 (reduce or add as per your heat tolerance), chopped
Curry Leaves - 1 large sprig
Fresh ginger, minced :  2 tbsp
Fresh Garlic Minced: 2 tbsp

1 tsp cinnamon (powdered)
1 tbsp Fennel Seeds- powdered
1 tsp Green Cardamom Powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp Chili powder
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Pepper (freshly ground) - 1/4 tsp

3 large potatoes, each- cut into 8 pieces
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
2 cups of thick coconut milk (divided)
Garam Masala powder

Coriander leaves/ Cilantro: 1 bunch, washed, trimmed and chopped

In a Dutch Oven, or a very heavy Pan, heat 2 tbsp Coconut Oil and fry the whole Cinnamon, Cardamom, Star Anise, Bay Leaf and Cloves, until the cloves crackle a little.
Add the onions and a little salt, and saute it, until soft and glossy. Add the minced ginger and garlic and green chilies and saute well. When the mixture is a little softer and aromatic, stir in the spice powders (Cinnamon, Coriander, Chili, Pepper, green Cardamom and Turmeric) and 1 tsp salt.
Now reduce heat and add the cut pieces of Mutton to the Onion mix. Stir well until coated. Add 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, to help with the coating of the spices. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 15 minutes on low heat.
After 15 minutes, remove the lid and stir well. It should be more watery than it was before.
Add 1/2 cup more of the coconut milk and add 1 cup water. Throw in the Curry leaves and potatoes, stir well cover with lid once again. This time slow cook for 30 minutes. If needed, stir occasionally.
Check meat for done-ness. If not cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
When meat is really tender, and seasonings well permeated, stir in the last of the coconut Milk, Garam-masala and coriander leaves. Take off the heat. Stir well and cover and let sit for 10 minutes before serving with Rice or Chapatis.

A Kachumber Salad (chopped cucumbers, green chilies,onions and tomatoes in salted yogurt) goes very well with it. Featured here, is my Mutton Curry with some Yogurt Rice.

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