Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mutton cooked with raja mirchi

Seriously, when it comes to food, there are no limits to how much an average Bengali will eat during Durga Puja. Yesterday, was Dashami, or the tenth day, that marks the end of the pujas. It is a day on which it is customary to eat fish, which seems funny to me at times, because when did we stop eating it anyway?

Unfortunately, I am not very traditional and owing to the fact that I  had no fish at home, I decided to make mutton. One of the items on my to-cook list this puja was Bhutwa Mutton. I wrote about this in my last post and I thought to myself what better than make just that. It took me about an hour and a half to prepare this dish, during which time I realized that I had run out of two ingredients from the original recipe. How important these were I cannot tell, so I decided to do what every home-cook must resort at such times of crisis. Improvise!

And so, in place of Schezwan pepper, I used my all-time favourite raja mirchi from Manipur. These lend a beautiful smokey flavour and a LOT of heat to the dish.

Bhutwa mutton with a twist

What you need

750 gm mutton

Whole spices
2-3 black cardamom 
3-4 cloves
10 peppercorns 
1 bay leaf 

3/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 dried Kashmiri mirch
1 dried raja mirchi (can be deseeded to reduce the heat) 

1 onion, medium sized, chopped 
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (I used slightly more garlic than ginger in my paste) 
2 tbsp coriander powder 
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional) 

Mustard oil
Salt and sugar, to taste
1 cup hot water

How to

Wash and clean the mutton. Drain excess water and pat dry the meat with a kitchen towel.

In a hick-bottomed, non-stick vessel, add the oil, and let it smoke. Once the mustard oil has smoked, let it cool before you add the four whole spices listed above. Fry for a minute, or until oil is fragrant.

Now add the fenugreek seeds and both kinds of chilies. Give it a stir and wait for a minute or so. Throw in the chopped onions and fry until light brown in colour.

Add the mutton into the hot oil and let it brown. This should take at least fifteen minutes. During this time, you could add the ginger-garlic paste, as well as some salt and sugar. Keep the vessel uncovered.

When the meat has browned sufficiently, add a cup of hot water and cover and cook for half hour. Alternately, in case using a pressure cooker, give two whistles and turn off the heat. In case of the latter, you would need to wait for sometime before you can open the cooker and cook the meat for some more time until the oil separates. The water needs to evaporate completely, and the mutton should be dark brown in colour.

Let the finished dish sit for at least half hour before serving.

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