During the time of Bengali Nabobarsho (new year in April) I put up a question on my facebook page as what recipe they would like to see next, Bengali Mutton curry or Chanar Kofta (cottage cheese dumplings). To my surprise 90% of them voted for the vegetarian kofta. I posted the recipe and conveniently forgot about the mutton curry which was patient enough to sit in my 'not yet' folder till last month. Then a reader gently reminded about it. But with the heat wave on I could not risk to post such a heavy and rich dish. Now with the Monsoon finally in our region... with a cooler weather and comparatively cool me can present to you the very famous, very Bengali Mangshor jhol or Mutton curry.
With its velvety gravy, succulent and juicy meat pieces and plump potatoes, Mangshor jhol never fails to lure Bengalis. There was a time when heart attacks, cholesterol, red meat were terms found only in text books and not something that we uttered everyday. Those days mutton curry used to enjoy it's cult status in Bengali livelihood. It was 'THE' dish which was must for each and every Bengali party. and in almost all Bengali families it was synonymous to Sundays.
Every Sunday morning the man of the house would take his bajarer thole or shopping bag and set out early in the morning to get the best cut. Most of them had their own vendors, whom they trusted, as the quality of the meat largely decides the tatse and flavour of the end dish. and then the women will cook Mangshor jhol and bhat (mutton curry and rice) with plenty of patience, love and time. Its one dish that could never be made in a hurry. The best taste comes when its cooked on slow flame for a few hours.
Gone are those leisurely sundays and such time taking cooking. But given a choice I sometime prefer to cook it the old world way...slow cooking the mutton with spices and then let it cook on Dum for a few hours till the meat soaks up all the flavour and is so succulent and juicy that it almost melts in your mouth.
I believe cooking and taste are very personal thing and especially for this mutton dish every family have their own recipes. Here is mine. just the way my Grandma and ma cooks it.
Mutton: 1 kg
Potatoes: 3 medium
Onion: 4 large red onion (almost 2 cups chopped)
Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Ginger paste: 2 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Chili Powder: 2 tsp (as per your heat tolerance)
Yogurt: 1/4 cup
Mustard oil: 2 tbsp+ 6 tbsp
Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Raw papaya paste: 1 tbsp (optional but works as meat tenderizer)
whole cloves: 6
Cinnamon: 1" stick
Green Cardamom: 1
Peppercorns: 8-10 (lightly crushed)
Wash the mutton pieces and drain the water. Soak excess water with kitchen towels. Add the beaten yogurt, 1/3 of the ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp mustard oil and mix. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate at least for 3 hours. For best result marinate for 6-8 hours.
Peel and cut the potatoes in half. Smear little salt and turmeric and keep aside.
Peel and chop the onions in half moon shape.
Soak the cumin powder in 2 tbsp water and keep aside.
Heat the rest of the oil in a big pan. Fry the potato pieces till golden and take out with a slotted spoon.
Lightly pound the whole spices under tempering and add to the oil. Let it sizzle for a few seconds and then add all the chopped onion, a pinch of salt and the sugar. On medium flame brown it for 10-12 minutes. Stir every now and then to stop it from burning at the bottom.
add the ginger garlic paste and cook again till oil separates at the side (6-8 minutes). Pour in the cumin, chiliies, turmeric and cook again for 4-5 minutes till the raw smell is gone.
Now carefully add the mutton pieces with all its marinade. Stir to mix everything together. Keep the flame on medium for it to cook slowly. Stir and let all the pieces cook evenly. Cover and let it cook for sometime and then stir so that it does not burn. Keep doing this till the mutton is browned and you again see all the oil has ooze out from the sides. Be patient and let it cook as the taste of the final dish entirely depends on this process. This slow cooking will caramelize the spices and the meat will become tender and flavourful. For me this kashano parts takes almost 35-45 minutes depending on the quality of the meat.
Once you see the oil and the meat is browned pour 3-31/2 cups of warm water to it. Adjust the seasoning. Add in the fried potato chunks. Mix thoroughly.
Pressure Cooker Method:
Now you can fasten tthe cooking process by transferring the entire think to a pressure cooker and cook for 2 sittis on medium. Let it stand till the steam dissipates in itself. Open the lid and taste. adjust with more salt or chili powder. Sprinkle the garam masala. mix and tightly cover till you are ready to serve.
Pour warm water to the meat and poato, Mix and then cover with a tight fitting lid. Keep the lfame on medium and let it cook for 1-11/2 hours or till the meat is tender. Add more water (definitely warm) to adjust the thickness of the gravy. Finally sprinkle the garam masala on top and serve.
I love to serve white steamed rice with my Mutton Curry.