Pan roasted mutton with rosemary, coriander and mint pesto
I dont think there is a meal quite like mangsho bhaat. On Sunday afternoons, when the day after a night of overindulgence leaves one with a furry tongue, a hot mutton curry with pieces of browned potatoes bobbing in the gravy eaten with steamed rice is almost like ambrosia. It brings back your faith in humankind and you even tend to forgive the friend who broke your Bohemian wine glass.
Indeed, you can treat mangsho in its various forms lamb, sheep or goat meat either as comfort food or as something really exotic. At a gala dinner, I cook my meat with all kinds of spices. The next day, I have a light mutton curry cooked with hardly any masalas. And the two recipes are as different as chalk from cheese but equally delicious.
I am reminded of mutton in this season of sacrifice and festivity. In the north, Diwali is celebrated with sweets. In the east, Kali Puja is marked with the sacrifice of a robust goat. The meat is then cooked simply and becomes the main attraction of the feast that follows.
I have been thinking of marking the occasion with a difference. Next weekend, our lamb and mutton dish should be out of the ordinary. I discussed this with Chef Pradip Rozario of K.K.s Fusion in Calcutta, and he came up with some wonderful recipes. Just marinate a lamb steak with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, says the chef. Grill it or fry it and then add some horseradish sauce to it along with Parmesan shavings. Serve it with a salad, and youll have a great meal.
Clearly, your special Kali Puja meal doesnt have to be a simple one of mangshor jhol. You can cook a lamb curry with polenta, or surprise your guests by presenting them with chops prepared with fresh herbs and roasted figs .
| Lamb steak with shaved parmesan and horseradish toppings
I have always been fond of meat and can never stop marvelling at the different tastes of different recipes. Unlike chicken, which ends up tasting the same however well and innovatively you cook it, mutton very easily adopts the taste of spices and changes its form according to the way its been cooked. For instance, meatballs in spaghetti and a tomato sauce are vastly different from koftas simmering in Indian spices.
Mutton doesnt always need an elaborate recipe. Take nalli. This is a great dish which is very easy to cook as well. All that you have to do is marinate your meat with yoghurt, salt, ginger, garlic and onion paste, kasoori methi, red chilli powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, papaya juice, cashew paste and garam masala. Let it stand for an hour and then cook it in a tandoor. Chef Rozario suggests that you serve it with a yoghurt dressing.
For a pan roasted mutton leg with rosemary, coriander and mint pesto, marinate the lamb with Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and papaya juice for six hours. Cook the leg in stock, flavoured with bay leaves, peppercorn, rosemary and garlic. Serve it with a sauce of mint, coriander, rosemary, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil.
Unlike daal, which needs some clever handling, you really cant go wrong with mutton. But, of course, the taste would depend heavily on the quality of the meat. Whenever I buy mutton I make sure that it comes from a goat that weighed 8kg-10kg when it breathed its last. This ensures that the meat is tender and not fibrous, and cooks easily. And, of course, if the meat is frozen you must bring it back to room temperature before you cook it.
So heres to a good meaty end to the festive season. As an old neighbour used to say eat meat, and youll be fit. Dieticians may not agree, but what the heck, you only live once!
Lamb curry with polenta
For lamb curry:
• 180-200gm meat cut into small pieces • 2 sliced onions •10gm whole garam masala • 2 bay leaves • 60ml oil • 1tsp turmeric powder • 1tsp coriander powder • 1tsp cumin powder • 1tsp red chilli powder • 2tsp ginger paste • 2tsp garlic paste • Salt, to taste • 2 sliced tomatoes
• 50gm maize flour • Salt, to taste • 1tsp red chilli powder • 15gm butter • 1 l water • 50ml cream • 50gm cheese
For lamb curry: Heat oil in a kadai. Add whole garam masala and bay leaves. When they start to crackle, add onion and fry till brown. Add ginger, garlic paste and mutton. Cook for five minutes. Add powdered dry spices and tomato. Cook till the oil rises to the top. Add water and cook till the mutton is soft.
Take water in a saucepan. Add salt, chilli powder, butter and bring to a boil. Add corn atta and cook over slow fire for 40 minutes, stirring constantly. When the mixture leaves the side of the saucepan, remove it from the fire. Finish with cream, cheese and seasoning. Pour in a serving dish and serve with mutton curry.