Thursday, October 1, 2015

Back to the kitchen, ladies...Recipe by special request

Mangshor Jhol (A basic mutton curry)

Growing up, Sunday afternoon meals were, without exception, mangshor jhol time. All hell broke loose if that particular item was not on the table. There could be ilish(hilsa) or koi(climbing perch) or Kankra(crab) of dimer bora(fish egg balls) or any other delicacy but that mangshor jhol could not be missing! All week, we looked forward to it. And in my head I can still see that dining table laid out for a Sunday lunch and imagine the taste of that curry. My Mother was a very good cook. So those of you lauding my culinary skills know where I got it from. That, and my love of food. For I do earnestly believe that unless you love food and are willing to try out different things, you will never be able to make food work for you!
Enough chatter already. An old friend on twitter @monikamanchanda wants that "mangshor jhol" recipe. So here goes.
Disclaimer 1: There are as many ways to make mutton curry as there are Bengali households. In fact my father-in-law made one of the best mutton curries ever. As always, with everything Bengali there are no dearth of opinions. We all have something to say about everything. So you may soon find enough people to say "add a bit of ground poppy-seeds", another will say "what, no mustard paste?", yet another will ask for something else, the list continues. The following recipe is basically a combination of my mother's recipe with inputs and twists as added by my father-in-law.
Disclaimer 2: I am lousy with measurements and do it by eye. So all measurements except that of the mutton is approximate.

Without  further  ado:


Mutton, cleaned and washed, medium to biggish sized pieces 1kg
Sunflower/any white oil: I tsp
Mustard oil 1tbsp
Onions 2, medium sized
Ginger 1inch, thick
Green chillies: 2 ( more if you want it spicy)
Garlic; 6/8 pods peeled
Haldi 1 tbsp
Pepper powder 2tsp
Jeera powder  2tsp
Chilly powder 1tsp
Sugar about 1 tbsp
Unsweetened curd 1/3 cup
tomato sauce 2tbsp
Potatoes 3 big size, peeled and cut into halves
Salt  to taste

1.       Make a smooth paste of the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies.
2.     Take the mutton pieces in a bowl. Add mustard oil and the paste and rub it in. Add salt, sugar, chilly powder, pepper, jira, curd, haldi and tomato sauce and mix well.
3.     Keep aside for at least an hour. If leaving it marinated for longer consider keeping it covered in the fridge.
4.     Take a big pressure cooker. Add the white oil. You can add a bay leaf if desired but I usually do not bother so you will not find it on the ingredient list.
5.      Add the mutton along with all the marinade when the oil is hot. Stir.
6.      As you stir and keep stirring, the mutton will emit a lot of water and juices. Keep stirring. In Bengali this is called 'kosha'. Stir the mutton till all the gravy disappears. This can take some time, be patient.You can also do this part in a non-stick kadai if you want.
7.     Once all the gravy disappears, add about two cups of water, mix it in nicely and cover and pressure cook for about 20 minutes on low heat. I wait for the pressure to blow the first time and then lower the flame and my timing of 20 minutes starts then. By now the kitchen should be smelling of something delicious cooking!
8.      After 20 minutes, turn off the flame and open the cover. For this you can hold the closed lid under a running water tap or whatever.  Add the big aloo/potato pieces. Stir it in. (A lot of people fry the aloo before putting it in the gravy but in my head that's just unnecessary additional oil so I do not fry them). If the gravy looks too dry, add about 1/2 cup water. The gravy must neither be too watery nor too thick.
9.     Close the pressure cooker lid and cook again for 5 minutes on low heat. As soon as 5 minutes are up, turn off the flame and let the cooker sit where it is.
10.   After about half an hour, open the pressure cooker. The meat and aloo should have settled down and you should be having a lovely red gravy. Check seasoning and pour into serving bowls, be certain to take all the gravy. Your mangshor jhol is ready!
11.   More often than not, this is had with steaming rice and a  side salad of cucumbers and onions. It also goes well with rotis or even a chunk of bread!
12.   I'd love to know if this recipe worked for you. Waiting for your feedback

13.   Oh yeah, enjoy! 

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