Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Savouring Mutton: Spices and All Things Nice


I've cooked mutton countless times in all sorts of styles, many of which I've come up with myself. Mixing and matching ingredients keeps things interesting so we don't get bored with the same old mutton dish. Do you agree? Eating the same kind of food or the same type of mutton dish can get dull?

Now, about cooking mutton. The ones I buy tend to be tough, making them hard to chew and eat after cooking, which hurts our gums and teeth. If you also buy tough mutton, you should start any mutton dish by pressure cooking it. If the mutton you buy is tender, you might not need to pressure cook it.

Come, let me share what we should know about pressure cooking mutton.

Cooker Size 
When it comes to traditional Indian pressure cookers, they usually come in two sizes: big and small. Choose the size based on how much mutton you are going to cook. For just the two of us at home, the small one works perfectly.

Cutting the Mutton 
Cut the mutton into your preferred size. I usually cut it into bite-sized pieces to make it easier to serve and eat. This way, you can take smaller portions instead of dealing with large pieces and potentially wasting food. Have you noticed how, at functions, you sometimes find big pieces of mutton that are hard to finish? Cutting it into smaller pieces avoids this problem.

Pressure Cooking Time 
The cooking time depends on the amount and size of the mutton pieces. Use your discretion to determine how long to pressure cook. It's a bit of trial and error until you find the perfect timing. Some people count the number of whistles, but I prefer setting a timer for 20 to 30 minutes. If the mutton is still tough after the initial cooking, let the pressure cooker cool down and then cook again. Be careful not to overcook, as the mutton will shrink, turn white, and break apart.


What to Add 
Add some ginger paste, garlic paste, and, if you like, turmeric powder. Ginger and garlic paste are great for removing the smell of mutton, while turmeric powder adds color and enhances the flavor.

Amount of Water 
Use your discretion when adding water to the pressure cooker. However, avoid filling it too much as this can cause spillage when the pressure builds up.

Pressure Cooking a Day Ahead 
Pressure cooking the mutton a day ahead can save time. If you're concerned about fat content, refrigerate the cooked mutton. The next day, you'll see a layer of fat on top, which you can easily scoop off before cooking.


Minced Mutton
Minced mutton doesn’t need pressure cooking. To save time, I buy pre-minced mutton. But if you prefer to mince it yourself, feel free to do so.

Before I start sharing my recipes, just know that I quite have many, and I haven’t decided how many to share yet. If a recipe only varies by two or three ingredients, I might skip it. However, I will be posting more mutton recipes as follow-ups, so be sure to check back for new ways to cook mutton.


Peshawari Mutton Karahi (Pakistani Mutton Curry
Ingredients
500g mutton, cut into bite-sized pieces (pressure cook with water)
½ cup ghee
½ tbsp ginger paste
½ tbsp garlic paste 
1 tbsp onion paste
2 potatoes, cut into medium-sized pieces
½ cup yogurt, whisked
2-3 sprigs coriander leaves, sliced/shredded 
Water as needed
Salt to taste

For Curry Paste
1½ tbsp plain chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp garam masala 
Mix with some water to form a thick paste

Method
Heat the ghee in a pan and sauté the ginger paste, garlic paste, and onion paste.
Add the curry paste and stir-fry over low heat until aromatic and the oil splits.
Add the potatoes, stir, and pour in the liquid from the pressure-cooked mutton. 
Add water if needed.
Stir and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
Add the mutton and salt, and stir a few times.
Add the whisked yogurt and coriander leaves, and stir again.
Turn off the heat.


Khasi Ko Masu (Nepalese Mutton Curry) 
Ingredients
10 pieces mutton bone marrow, pressure-cooked with some water
¼ cup oil
Water as needed
Salt to taste

For the Curry Paste
10 dried red chilies
1 tsp poppy seeds (kas kas)
2 tbsp cashew nuts
1 tbsp coriander seeds
½ tbsp cumin seeds
½ tbsp fennel seeds
½ tbsp black pepper seeds
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
3 sprigs curry leaves
Dry fry these ingredients and blend with
5 cloves garlic 
1-inch piece ginger
5 shallots

Method
Heat oil in a pan and fry the curry paste until aromatic and the oil splits.
Pour in the liquid from mutton and water as needed, simmer to heat through.
Add the mutton and salt.
Stir and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn off the heat.


Shahi/Mughai Mutton Curry
Ingredients
For the Mutton
400g mutton, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp ginger paste
½ tbsp garlic paste
1½ tsp turmeric powder
Some water
Combine all the ingredients and pressure cook.

For Curry Paste
2 tbsp plain chili powder
1½ tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel powder
Mix with some water to form a thick paste

Other Ingredients
2 tbsp ghee
1 large red onion, sliced
Spices: 1 stick cinnamon, 3 cloves, 2-star anise, and 2 bay leaves
2 tomatoes, sliced
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3-4 sprigs curry leaves
2 sprigs coriander leaves, sliced
4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

Method
Heat the ghee in a pan.
Add the sliced onion and spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and bay leaves). 
Fry for a minute until fragrant.
Add the curry paste and cook until aromatic.
Add the tomatoes and potatoes.
Stir well.
Pour in the residue/liquid from the pressure-cooked mutton.
Add some water if needed.
Stir everything together and cook until the potatoes become soft and the curry thickens.
Add the mutton and salt, stir well. 
Turn off the heat and add the curry leaves and coriander leaves. 
Stir well.


Mutton Massaman Curry (Thai Mutton Curry)
Ingredients
500g mutton, cut into bite-sized pieces and pressure cooked with some water
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
½ cup thick coconut milk
½ cup oil
Salt to taste

For the Curry Paste (blend for a thick paste)
5-6 dried red chilies
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves
3 cardamoms (only the seeds)
½-inch roasted belacan (shrimp paste)
½-inch galangal (lengkuas)
2-3 sprigs coriander leaves with stems
1 lemongrass stalk
5 shallots
5 cloves garlic
½ tsp lime rind

Method
Heat the oil in a pan.
Fry the curry paste until aromatic and the oil splits.
Add the bay leaves.
Pour in the residue from the pressure-cooked mutton and add water as needed.
Stir and simmer.
Add the potatoes and cook until they are tender.
Add the mutton and salt.
Pour in the fish sauce, lime juice, and coconut milk.
Simmer to heat through, then remove from heat.


Chettinad Mutton Curry (Tamil Nadu Mutton Curry)
Ingredients
For the Mutton
½ kg mutton with bones, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ tbsp ginger paste
½ tbsp garlic paste
Some water
Pressure cook the mutton with the ginger paste, garlic paste, and some water.

For the Curry Paste
1 tbsp plain chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel powder
½ tbsp coriander powder
Mix these spices with some water to form a paste.

Other Ingredients
2 red chilies, sliced into 4 to 5 pieces
6 shallots, sliced
Spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, and 4 cloves
1 medium-sized tomato, thinly sliced
4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized pieces
2 tbsp yogurt, whisked to remove lumps
½ tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
¼ cup oil
Salt to taste

Method
Heat the oil in a pan.
Sauté the red chilies, shallots, and spices (cinnamon, star anise, and cloves) until fragrant.
Add the curry paste, stir, and cook until aromatic and the oil splits.
Add the tomato and potatoes. 
Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour in the residue/liquid from the pressure-cooked mutton. 
Add water if needed.
Stir and simmer until the potatoes are soft.
Add the mutton and season with salt.
Stir and gently mix in the yogurt and dried fenugreek leaves.
Stir, then turn off the heat.

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