Sunday Mutton Curry
If you are a Bangali and have grown up in a joint family you would know what Sunday means to us. Sunday lunch is that one meal where probably every Bong household cooks the same quintessential dish, where all the members of the family sit around a huge table and salivate at the spread laid in front of them. Sundays are synonymous with mutton. And not just any kind, it has to be the Sunday Mutton Curry (Robibaarer Mangsher Jhol).
As a kid I remember I would wake up every Sunday to the robust aroma of the mutton curries that were cooked in every kitchen in the neighbourhood. I would eagerly wait for the end product that would emerge from my kitchen. Well, not exactly my kitchen, it was my thamma's (paternal grandmother) kitchen then. She was the undisputed culinary queen of the family. Now I come from a food family. As human beings, we believe that the ultimate goal of life is to eat good food....no, not just once or twice a week, but every single day, every single meal. My thamma would wake up early in the morning to knead her luchis for breakfast everyday. That would be followed by an elaborate 5-course lunch of bhaat, dal, bhaja, torkari, maachh, chutney, doi. Yes, chutney was a MUST. After winding up lunch by 2 o'clock latest, she would take a quick nap and emerge once again at 4 o'clock, this time to make singara, kachori, dalpuri alu dam, fish chop, mutton roll, Moghlai paratha or our perennial favourite — Chingrir cutlet (Prawn cutlets). Didi would nibble at them while I would gobble them up. The paraphernalia regarding food was so enormous that we jokingly self-called our house "Adarsha Hindu Hotel", where everybody would come to have a taste of thamma's deep-fried delicacies.
Thamma left us 8 years back but what still remains as an integral part of the family is the zeal to cook and feed. Even though my mother and jyethi/Rika (aunt: father's elder brother's wife) have picked up most of her recipes by dint of sharing the same kitchen with her, nothing they ever cook will taste like thamma'r haater ranna (and mind you, they are bloody good cooks themselves). Thamma had taught her daughters-in-law the traditional family recipe of the Sunday mutton curry, just as we would love it 20 years back. And they have, in turn, passed it on to their daughters. This is the first of thamma's recipes that I'm sharing on this blog. In fact, my idea of a Bong Food series was largely envisaged as an ode to the woman to taught me to love food in every which way — be it cooking, eating or feeding. And I'm sure Thamma that you'll be happy to see your granddaughter doing all these three with great gusto! :)
Mutton, cut into medium pieces: 500 gm
Potatoes, halved: 2
Garlic paste: 3 tbsp
Ginger paste: 2 tbsp
Onion paste: 5 tbsp
Onion, sliced finely: 1/2 cup
Tomato, chopped roughly: 1 (optional)
Yoghurt: 1 cup (of which 1/2 cup is optional)
Mustard Oil: 2 tbsp
Bay leaves: 2
Black cardamom: 1
Green cardamom: 4
Cinnamon: 1 stick
Mace: a pinch
Green chillies, slit: 2
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp + for marination
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1 tsp
Water: as required
1. Marinade the mutton pieces with 1/2 cup yoghurt and a tsp each of ginger and garlic and salt. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or better still overnight.
2. Marinade the potatoes with salt and a little turmeric powder and set aside for 30 minutes. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a deep-bottomed kadhai/pan and lightly fry them.
3. In the same oil, add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and mace and saute till they release aroma, roughly 45 seconds.
4. Now add the onion paste, ginger and garlic pastes and cook on medium high for a minute or so. Make sure not to burn. Add the sliced onions and green chillies and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes (if using) and saute till soft and pulpy.
5. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin and coriander powder and salt and saute for 2 more minutes. You can add a splash of water at this stage if the mixture goes too dry.
6. Now add the mutton pieces along with the marination and cook covered on low heat till it has softened a bit and starts releasing oil, roughly 25-30 minutes.
7. In a pressure cook, tumble the cooked mutton, pour just enough water to cover it and cook on high heat for 3 whistles. Turn off the gas, let the cooker open on its own. Then add the fried potatoes, seal the pressure cooker and cook further for two more whistles. Again turn off heat and allow the cooker to open on its own.
8. Pour the mutton back to the kadhai and on semi high heat bring the gravy to a light bubble. Add the remaining yoghurt (if using) and stir it in. Cook for 10 more minutes till gravy reaches desired consistency. (Note: Don't use tomatoes and yoghurt together, otherwise it might result in too much acidic flavour.)
9. Serve with plain rice and only plain rice. Else, you'll be doing injustice to the Sunday Mutton Curry. :)
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For more Mutton recipes, click here