Monday, August 27, 2012

Recipe: Mangshor Jhol - Bengali Mutton Curry

Jhol is a thin Bengali curry. Mangshor is mutton (goat meat, lamb can be used as a substitute if goat isn't available).

In my singleton days in 1999-2000, I had a group of 8-10 Bengali & Oriya friends who rented the first floor of a house in Bangalore. My apartment had a very basic kitchen, but these guys had a slightly larger kitchen. If I was in Bangalore for the weekend, then most Sunday afternoons were spent with this group of friends, because they would make awesome mutton curry with hot rice that was so welcoming after a week of slogging away at office and eating fast cooked meals. (normally pulaos of every kind where meat and veggies were tossed into a pressure cooker with herbs and spices & cooked for 3 whistles) Plus after Saturday night out on the town, this mutton curry really hit the right spot at 3pm after waking up at 2pm.

I normally don't cook a lot with mutton. The quality of mutton that you get in Mangalore is not very good. It is stringy, fatty and sometimes a bit smelly, so mum n grandma also rarely cooked mutton unless it was a traditional polov (Mutton & ash gourd curry) needed for some ceremony or the occasional stew, butI remember grandma used to add beef to that dish just to get some better quality meat into it.

Personally, I mostly cook mutton only in Biriyanis or the occasional chops. I did cook more with mutton wheil I was in Bombay & I do believe that the best quality mutton in India is found only in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. So I was quite suprised to recently learn that a lot of Rajasthan's mutton is imported from Gujarat under the so-called "Pink Revolution" akin the "White Revolution" where Gujarat exports milk & milk products to other Indian states

As I was hosting a dinner party for 20, I thought I should do something other than the regular biryani with mutton (as cooking biryani for 20 needs much bigger pots than I have) or a stew (since I was already making the chicken curry with coconut milk) and I remembered the simple homestyle mutton curry that my Bengali friends used to make on the weekends. I looked up a couple of my recipe books and some online recipes, then decided on the following. I cooked with 2 kilos of mutton. 1kg boneless + 1 kg with bone so you can halve the quantities for 1 kg.

2kg mutton (use at least some large bones) - chop into curry size pieces, wash and drain

2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to your spice tolerance)
6 tbsp mustard oil
8 tbsp thick curd (yoghurt) - drain it in a cheesecloth if your curd is too watery
6-8" fresh ginger
25-30 cloves of peeled garlic
8 green chillies (adjust to your spice tolerance)
salt to taste

In a mortar & pestle coarsely crush the ginger, garlic and green chillies (you can use a chopper or mixi if you prefer, but the mortar&pestle give the best flavour) You can also use ginger paste & garlic paste and just smash the chillies with back of your knife.
Mix all the marinade ingredients together, adjusting salt for taste and marinate the meat in it for a couple of hours. Overnight in the fridge works best and even longer will work as well.

2kgs marinated mutton (as above)
6 medium onions sliced finely
1/4 cup mustard oil (since this adds flavour, don't decrease oil at this stage, you can strain it off the top, once the dish is ready)
4-5 bay leaves
3-4 dried red chillies
6 medium potatoes peeled and chopped into 8 each (if you like larger sized potatoes, just quarter them)
2 tbsp turmeric

3 tbsp corriander powder
2 tbsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp jeera powder
salt to taste
fresh lime segments
corriander leaves to garnish - optional

Bring the marinated meat to room temperature if refrigerated.
Add a little salt & 1 tbsp turmeric to the chopped potatoes and mix well.
In a large pan/ pressure cooker, fry the potatoes in 2-3 tbsp mustard oil, until they start to brown/crisp up on the outside.Stir frequently to prevent potatoes sticking to the pan.
Remove the potatoes from the pan, leaving the excess oil behind.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan.
When hot, season with the bay leaves and dried red chillies.
Before the chillies can burn, add the sliced onion and fry well until they start to brown.
Stir frequently to fry evenly and prevent them from sticking to the bottom

Add the marinated meat (but reserve the excess liquid marinade) to the pan with the remaining turmeric, chilli, corriander & jeera powders and some salt
Stir frequently to prevent meat sticking to the pan and cook till all the liquid dries up and the meat is well coated with the marinade and powders and slightly browned..

Add the reserved marinade, fried potatoes and 6-8 cups of water (depending on how thin you want the stew).
Cover and cook till done (3 whistles in a Hawkins pressure cooker)
Adjust salt to taste.
Cook uncovered if you want to thicken the gravy

Just before serving, squeeze lemon juice or serve lemon wedges on the side.
Add corriander leaves if you like as garnish

Serve hot with rice or lucchis (maida puris)

This jhol/curry can also be made with lamb or chicken

Kim's tips:
1. Choose a good quality mustard oil, as that will make a huge difference in the taste. There is no substitute for mustard oil in this particular recipe.
2. Mutton curries need some amount of large bones in the mix which really flavour the stew
3. If you are refrigerating meat during marination, always remember to bring it back to room temperature before cooking it.
4. Onions fry a little faster if you add a little salt to them while frying.


mauritian fish said...

The curry was delicious, my three old loved it too .going to my collection for sure thanks!

Kim said...

Glad you loved it. :)


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