Mutton Rezala

It is 1.45 am and I am just back from work. Ten minutes back I dragged myself through the front door, said a cursory Hi to my husband (who was working on an office project with the recently-downloaded tracks of Mohenjo Daro playing on loop on his laptop), fished a glass of nimbu-paani from the refrigerator (no, not because Bangalore weather calls for nimbu paani, it so doesn't, but because I was feeling a bit uneasy with all the food I had stuffed myself with at work). And here I am - sitting at my new work station with my laptop staring at me. As I rummage through my draft I can see posts that I had started more than a year back. Some have the recipe written hurriedly, others have a few lines scribbles, some are ready but photographs haven't been edited whereas a couple of others say in instruction: Turned out good the first time. Now make again and shoot. Of course the "make again" bit never happened. And even if it did, the "shoot" part certainly didn't. What really stands out in my draft right now is the 7-part travelogue to Italy that I had started way back in January. Half the year is gone and I am still stuck at 4. I really don't know where time is going. Am I really pressed for time or am I sleeping too much? Am I really so much under the pump at work or that is an excuse I conveniently use to justify my erratic presence on blogosphere? The other day, a colleague told me, "You know, you should really make it a point to post something every Thursday." (Thursday happens to be my day off from the newsroom). I said, "There was a time I'd post 3 recipes a week and still not get tired. Goodness knows what's happening to me! Writer's block, cook's block, social media block... I guess it's a heady combination of all three."

But her words stayed with me and even though this Thursday my weekly off has been cancelled, I have still sat with my blog, staring at my pending posts and wondering which one to complete. It is Eid today (well, it's already way past midnight) and talking about this Mutton Rezala seems only too fitting. I made this back in May for a few of P's IIT seniors who had come over for lunch. I was catering a 5-course meal to a group of six (excluding us) all by myself and that seemed a gargantuan task. More so, because the joint pains in my left hand had reached its peak and I had to run for physiotherapy everyday. I didn't think I'd be able to manage, but I did. P was an exceptional sous chef though... chopping onions, blitzing cashews, cleaning up utensils after me. With my hand in such terrible shape, he even volunteered to cook the rezala provided I give him the instructions!
We had a gala time that day. The lazy afternoon chat rolled over into the evening and by the time the guests were gone, I had zero energy left in me. I think I fell asleep on the sofa itself! But even then, we don't get a lot of opportunities to call people over because of our completely opposite work hours and working weekends (in my case), and gatherings like this come as a breath of fresh air.
And speaking of gatherings, what better way to jazz up your Eid feast by making this sinfully luscious Mutton Rezala and breaking bread together?
Recipe inspired by Bong Mom's CookBook

Serves: 7-8

Mutton: 2 kg

For marinade:
Onions: 5 
Garlic: 15-16 cloves
Ginger, grated: 1.5 tbsp
Yoghurt: 200 ml

Spice powder:
Green cardamom: 20 
Black cardamom: 5
Mace: 1 tbsp
Black peppercoens: 1 tbsp

For the gravy:
Bay Leaf: 2-3
Whole red chillies: 8-10
Black peppercorn: 1 tbsp 
Green cardamom: 8-10 
Black cardamom: 2-3
Cloves ~ 8-10
Cinnamon stick ~ 2-3

Onion, thinly sliced: 1
Ginger Paste: 2 tsp
Garlic Paste: 2 tsp
Cashewnuts, soaked in water for 20-30 minutes, then drained and made into a paste: 5-6 tbsp 
Kewra Water: 1-2 tsp (depends on the intensity of whatever you're using)
Milk: 200 ml
Yoghurt: 200 ml
Saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp of warm milk: a pinch (I skipped it as I couldn't find my saffron box at the last minute)
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Ghee: 2 + 1 tbsp


1. Grind the ingredients listed under spice powder finely. Set aside. 

2. Make a puree of the onions, ginger, garlic and yoghurt. 

3. Marinade the mutton pieces with the onion-yoghurt blend and spice powder and some salt and allow ro rest overnight. 

Bring the marinated mutton to room temperature before you start cooking.

4. In a deep-bottomed pan, heat 2 tbsp of ghee. Add the whole spices (bay leaves, red chillies, peppercorns, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon). 

5. After 30-40 seconds, as the spices release aroma, add the sliced onion and sugar. After another 1 minute, add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for 2-3 minutes. 

6. Now gradually shake of the vestiges of marinade from the mutton pieces and add them to the pan. Reserve the marinade.

7. On medium-high heat, fry the mutton for 15-20 minutes untill it's releases its juices and is somewhat cooked through. 

8. Now add the remaining marinade to the pan along with the cashew paste. Stir well to coat all the mutton pieces. 

9. Now comes the tedious process of controlling your craving while the mutton is getting cooked. Lower the heat and cook the mutton covered for 60-90 minutes till soft and completely cooked through. As the mutton is cooking, every 10-15 minutes add the milk and yoghurt alternately to deglaze the pan and preventing the mutton from sticking to the bottom. Add salt at this stage and more sugar, if required. 

10. Once the mutton is cooked through, remove the lid, add the kewra water, saffron and the remaining 1 tbsp ghee. (Feel free to add as much more ghee as you like!)

11. Serve hot with rumali/tandoori roti, biryani or even steamed rice.
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For more Eid and Iftar recipes, click here


  1. Pritha,
    Tell me about the busy life! Anyway, the rezala looks amazingly good, it's pretty much the same way I make it too. I love rezala, the week I make rezala we finish in 3 days.


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