Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kerala Mutton Curry…

Let me start with a request. After reading this post, some of you might think that I am touting my own horns here. Well, I cannot blame you if you conclude that way but honestly that is definitely not my intention here. As most of the things come under the category of “accidental” in my life, this one also is not an exception. I am just chronicling a magical moment in my personal-chef life!

Well, some of my regular readers are aware of a particular situation in my life that I don’t compete with my mother in law to reproduce the magic from her kitchen, but I have tried to bring home the taste of the food cooked by some ‘lungi’ clad guy working in a small scale restaurant at the capital city of Kerala, as CJJ always fancies the food he tasted from restaurants like Chinnus, Ambalapattu and many others in that small junction at Kersavadasapuram. That said, I should also mention that I was trying to recreate a taste I haven’t experienced in my lifetime but my husband has. I was competing with a Pachakakkaran/local chef whose food I have never tasted in my life. But over the course of time, I realized that I was shooting in the darkness and slowly got over that ‘mysterious standard’ I was always aiming at.

Life moved on……from blunders to some edible stuff, from average to good. But one day I guess my lucky stars slightly changed their jogging route and that day at lunch time, I heard the most unbelievable words from him, “mm…mm….ohhhh…ethu Ambalapatte beef curry polundu” meaning “it tastes like the beef curry at Ambalapattu”!!!!!!! Well, what I served was Mutton curry (!!) but what I heard at that moment was more than I could ever imagine. It was a bolt from the blue……I sat there in total disbelief…..I couldn’t take my eyes off of him……..I know I should have noted the time and date to mark the historical moment in my culinary adventures but I just couldn’t, not for 1-2 minutes but it took almost a week for me to verify the restaurant name again.!

I hesitated to cook Mutton curry for more than a month after that…as I was doubtful if I would be able to recreate the same magic again and pressure was building on me whenever he opened the freezer and saw the meat packets. Finally, I gained some guts and rolled up my sleeves and made it again……and he relished……. and has now begun to admit that mutton is tastier than beef which was his weakness till then.

My friends, please don’t think that this is some exotic dish that I whipped up from nowhere, using some mysterious spices. It is either because perhaps CJJ has begun to forget the taste from his bachelor days and his palate is getting used to my cooking or because some minor changes I made here and there was enough to tickle his taste memories and resembled something like the dish he always fancied. I don’t know!!!! I used my mother’s homemade masala powder to my Mutton Fry recipe, made some additions and deductions here and there and voila, I got my magical Mutton curry! With the food blogger sword hanging on my head all the time, I was wise enough to scribble the measurements the first time I cooked and here is how I made it. Btw, this is my magical Mutton curry, it may or may not be your magical one :)

Ingredients: (Approx.)

To Pressure cook:
  • Around ½ to ¾ kg fresh mutton (goat meat) with bones, cubed and washed
  • 4tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 ½ tsp chilly powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 2 to 4 Indian green chillies, slit opened lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • ½ cup big onion, thinly sliced (around one small size big onion)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup water
To Sauté:
  • ¾ cup big onions, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup small read pearl onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Indian green chillies, slit opened lengthwise
  • 2 tsp Homemade Masala Powder/Garam Masala
  • 2 -3 sprigs of curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • Marinate the cubed pieces of meat with everything listed under “pressure cook”, except water for about 15-20 minutes and then pour water and pressure cook until meat is cooked well.
  • In a large sauce pot, heat the coconut oil and sauté thinly sliced small onions, big onions and green chillies , in low flame, until it starts to turn transparent. Tear off half of the curry leaves and add to this. Now, add the pressure cooked meat, along with gravy produced and stir well; cook covered, in medium heat and bring to a boil. Now add the homemade masala powder (keep a pinch or two aside for the final sprinkling) and stir well with the curried meat. Reduce heat and let it cook till the gravy starts to thicken a bit. Now do a taste-test and adjust the salt. Just two minutes before turning off the heat, add some more curry leaves and sprinkle a pinch or two of masala powder, kept aside earlier which leaves the dish with a wonderful aroma of fresh curry leaves and spices. Turn off the stove when the gravy is thick enough. Let it rest for 30-40 minutes before serving as it takes time for all the spices and masala to come together.
  • Serve warm with rice or Palappam (Laced pancakes), chappathi or porotta (Indian flat breads). This dish attains its real flavour after a couple of hours from cooking and tastes the best, the next day!!
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I will post the Masala powder/Garam Masala recipe within 2-3 days…so if someone is planning to try this dish, please wait till I post the spice mix recipe.


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