We don’t cook mutton a great deal at our house, partly because of its relatively difficult availability than chicken but mostly for its artery-clogging potentials. During my growing-up years, mutton was undubiously a Sunday speciality. Come rain, come sun, the Sunday lunch was never complete without this Mutton Curry. But with the passage of years, that norm has ceased to exist. Sundays are no longer holidays for me, nor do I feel the comforting presence of mutton curry in my tummy after lunch.
But mutton has and will always remain our feast food. Whenever there’s an occasion to celebrate, we ensure that this particular meat is giving us company at the dinner table. And whenever we actually get mutton for home, a tussle ensues between my mother and me as to who will cook it. Now my Dad has this habit of treating us the day he gets his pension every month and this month it also coincided with the day Antar Da and the Mini Monster Boom would be coming to our place for dinner. Now I had made a Mutton Do Pyaza in January last year. The outcome was pretty decent but I wanted to improvise on my recipe and more than that my pictures. I did a mini poll among my family members as to whether they’d want to stick to the basic mutton curry (that my Mum would cook) or the richer and heavier Do Pyaza (that I was itching to make) and barring one vote, all the others went for the Do Pyaza. My mum secretly heaved a sigh of relief but at the same time ensured that I had every single ingredient washed/chopped/sliced/diced and ready to be used once I stepped into the kitchen. Little joys of life!
Coming to this Mutton Do Pyaza, it’s a painstaking, time-consuming and elaborate affair but oh so totally worth it. One thing you have to ensure though is to never fall into the temptation of shoving the meat (that’ll take an inexorably long time to cook) in the pressure cooker and follow the easy way out. That’ll be a gross injustice to the lush red, rich, royal gravy that this dish has the potential of offering you. You’ll get impatient, you’ll be sweating like anything, you’ll feel like screaming out your lungs as to why it is taking so much time, but trust me, the wait will be worth it. You invest labour in cooking the meat, the meat will pay you back in taste. Gracious, that sounds like some corny line straight out of a self-help book!
Mutton, cut into pieces: 1 kg
Onions: 10 (6 quartered and the remaining 4 sliced finely)
Ghee: 3-4 tsp
Mustard oil: 2 tbsp (or more, to fry onions)
Bay leaf: 2
Black cardamom: 3
Green cardamom: 6
Cinnamon: 3 1/2′ sticks
Peppercorns: 1 tsp
Whole dry red chillies: 3
Coriander seeds: 1.5 tsp
Hung curd: 2 cups
Ginger, pminced: 1.5 tbsp
Garlic, chopped finely: 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder: 2 tsp
Red chilli powder: 2 tsp
Garam Masala powder: 1/2 tsp
Kewra water: 2-3 drops
Salt, to taste
Sugar: 1 tsp
Garlic, minced: 1 tbsp
Ginger, minced: 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Hung curd: 5 tbsp
Salt, a fat pinch
1. Marinade the mutton pieces with the ingredients listed under marination for 4-5 hours or better still overnight.
2. In a deep-bottomed pan, heat mustard oil and fry the sliced onions till golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and set aside. You can use the same pan for cooking the meat and in that case you don’t throw away the remaining mustard oil (if any). I, however, chose to make my gravy in a fresh pan.
3. Heat 1 tsp ghee in a kadhai/wok and add bay leaves, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, peppercorns and whole dried red chillies. Once they start releasing aroma, say 40 seconds, add the quartered onions, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds and fry on high heat for a couple of minutes or till the onions have wilted slightly.
4. Add the mutton pieces along with the marinade and fry on high heat for 5 minutes or so.
5. Now add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, beaten hung curd and mix the meat well with the spices. Cook on medium high heat till the meat releases oil. Sprinkle a little warm water and continue to cook till the mutton pieces are halfway cooked through and all the liquid has been absorbed. All this while keep sprinkling with water and stirring as often as possible to prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan. This should take roughly 50 minutes to an hour.
6. Now add half a cup of water to the meat, cover the pan and simmer on low-medium heat until the meat is cooked through and tender (another 45-60 minutes). Check from time to time and if required add little bit of water as and when you need. The mutton should wear a deep, rich, red look now and the gravy should be on mostly sticking to the mutton pieces and on the thicker side, not runny or watery.
7. After the meat is thoroughly cooked and the gravy reduced to your desired consistency, uncover it, add the fried onions (reserving a little for garnish), garam masala, kewra water and the remaining 2 tsp of ghee. Give a few food mixes till the fried onions blend well with the mutton and gravy. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
8. Serve with paratha/tandoori roti/naan/chapati or pulao with a lemon wedge and green chillies on the side.
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