Saturday, 23 August 2014

Bengali Mutton Curry

Weekends are special in every household and so is mine. However, it is not about food always in my household. In fact, I hardly cook on weekends unless I have guests for dinner. For me weekends are more of spending time with family, go shopping, and spend some me time. This weekend was special, however, as I had to clear my pantry before going on a werkend holiday to Cambodia next week. So with mutton being on the cards and husband requesting for some authentic Bengali Mutton Curry, I had to do some homework before I could get on with it. After going through a lot of recipes, this recipe from Bong Mom's CookBook seemed really convincing, though a bit elaborate. As it was weekend and husband was there to take care of the baby, I decided to go for it. The end result was stupendous and this recipe turned out quite a stunner, with some minor changes at my end. If you love mutton and love the Bengal style of cooking, you cannot stay away from this recipe.

For the marination
1 kg mutton washed and cleaned
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp mustard oil
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
2 tbsp grated raw papaya
2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp salt
For the special paste
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
15 black peppercorns
8 dry red chillies
8 fat cloves garlic
2" piece ginger
1 tsp mustard oil
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
Dash of water
For the gravy
2 large onions finely sliced 
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 large tomatoes pureed
2 large potatoes quartered
6 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
8 cloves
3 bay leaves
3 whole red chillies
1 mace
1 tsp good quality garam masala
3-4 green chillies slit
Salt to taste
2 tbsp mustard oil

The preparation time is quite time consuming for this recipe and so I shall share with you the process step wise, like I did, to ease the entire cooking procedure. 
Step 1
Marinate. Wash and rinse the mutton and keep it in a vessel with a proper lid. Add all the ingredients listed under marination and mix well. Cover and marinade overnight. 

Step 2
Make the paste. Dry roast the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, and whole red chillies. Cool and make a fine paste with the rest of the ingredients. Keep aside. Traditionally, it will be best if you can do this paste on a silbatta (mortar and pestle) as the older generation used to do. Gives the optimum results. Trust me!
Step 3
Prepare for the gravy. Slice the onions and keep aside. Puree the tomatoes and keep aside. If using fresh ginger garlic paste, prepare and keep aside. Cut the potatoes and heat the oil in a big wok. Remember, you will be using the same wok for the rest of the procedure. So choose accordingly. Fry the potatoes till golden. Keep aside. 

Step 4
Now it's time to start cooking. Take the same pan where you fried the potatoes and add thevwhole garam masala listed under gravy. I did not add any additional oil apart from 2 tbsp oil added while frying the potatoes. When fragrant, add the sliced onions and fry with a pinch of sugar till browned and caramalized but not burnt. Next add the puree and fry till the excess water evaporates and the raw smell disappears. Put the mutton along with the marinade and fry on high heat for 5 minutes till the mutton turns brown. Now reduce the flame and continue stirring intermittently till oil droplets start appearing on top. This will take a good 20-25 minutes. A point to note here. I have not made this curry in the pressure cooker as the raw papaya added during marination tenderizes the meat sufficiently and cooks perfectly even in the pan. In fact, the mutton started coming off the bones while frying!
You will know that the mutton has been fried well when you see droplets of oil floating on top. Now add the spice paste and rinse the blender with a dash of water and continue frying the mutton along with the spice paste for another 5-10 minutes till everything is well mixed. Add the fried potatoes and give a gentle stir. Add salt and 1.5 cups of water. Cover and reduce the flame to minimum once the gravy comes to the first boil. Stir in between and keep covered until you see oil floating on top.
If you want reduced gravy, remove the cover and cook on high flame till the gravy reduces to desired consistency. Now add the garam masala and check the seasoning. Add some fresh slit green chillies for an awesome taste. Remove from heat and serve hot with steamed rice. 

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