I'm not much of a red meat eater. I eat mutton about once a year, and I did start eating beef in 2005 after disregarding my Brahmin origins, and although I liked the taste, I figured I wouldn't be eating it very frequently either. Bengali Brahmins, like the Kashmiri pundits, are lucky because unlike any other Brahmin community in the country, they can eat fish and meat, but beef is still taboo, considered to be from the holy animal, seen as more of a 'mlechha' (Non-Aryan, barbarian) Muslim/Christian influence.
I'm fortunate to have no such stigma in my family - my father loves beef and my mother developed a fetish for beef kaati rolls when she was pregnant with me. However, I've just never enjoyed red meat, preferring to stick to fish and chicken if given a choice.
But I digress. Today's recipe is the Mutton Curry, the Kosha Maangsho (literally thick, spicy mutton gravy) that is a huge favourite with all Bengalis. Lamb Curry is more of a 'Sunday' recipe, if you know what I mean. Lazy late Sunday mornings, newspapers and cartoons on TV, the smell of the spice-laden mutton curry wafting through the house. Lunch is served rather late, around 2-2.30 PM, the family would invariably overeat, and just fall back into a hazy sleep, lulled by the food, waking up only in the evening.
Indulgence, yes, that's the word I associate with mutton curry. And without wasting any more time reminiscing, I will just jot down the recipe here.
Mutton cut in pieces washed
Garam masala powder
Onions (fine sliced)
Green Chilly paste
Rose water (optional)
Marinate the mutton in yoghurt and a little salt for about an hour (longer the better, because it becomes softer and cooks in lesser time).
Heat oil until smoking. Lower heat, and temper bay leaf and whole cloves, cinnamon, and green cardamoms. Add onion and sauté. When the onion becomes translucent, add a little sugar and turmeric powder. In case you didn't know already, sugar, apart from adding taste, also adds a delicious rich red color to the gravy because it turns to caramel. Keep stirring. Add the ginger, garlic, and chilly paste. Add the coriander powder and the chilli powder.
Add the mutton and mix well with the spices. When the fat becomes to leave the sides, add a little hot water and cook on a low flame until the mutton is well cooked and tender. Check for salt. Add rose water and garam masala powder and dry the gravy. Serve hot with rice, roti or paratha. Enjoy!