For along time I didn't know that mutton was different from lamb. It was not until my exploration into Kitchen, that I realised they were after all quite different. Oh ! they both are sheeps and they might have the same mother but depending on at which age you eat them there flavor varies. A sheep under the age of 1 year is a lamb. Whereas a mature sheep is called Mutton. The maturity considerably changes the flavor and texture of meat.
All over India, mutton is the most common red meat and if something said meat, it by default means mutton and not lamb or beef. But mutton is not
Mutton is tougher than lamb due maturing of connective tissues. What this means is, you can't get tender meat by grilling, roasting or frying. That makes sense because in Indian cooking most mutton dishes are casserole kind cooking. So its always soft and succulent.
Indian Mutton stew is very common, an probably every non veg house has its own recipe. It uses basic Indian ingredients and is easy to put together. I have mastered this recipe after months of trial and error. Though it was always easy, I always felt I missed something, and kept trying different recipes from aunts , friends and relatives. Until one day I found it! Bang on ! Exactly like it should be. The ingredients were still the same it was just cooking process.
Having said all the story about the mutton, you surely can try the recipe with lamb or beef. I have tried it with beef and is equally good. If you like Indian food, this is a must try which ever way!
Spicy Mutton Stew
Serves : 4 people
1/2 kg Mutton ( On the bone, medium pieces)
2 Tomatoes ( Diced)
3 Red Onion (Medium, Sliced)
4 cloves Garlic (Minced)
1 thumb size ginger (minced)
1 Stick Cassia * (1 inch)
2 Cardamom pods
5-6 Whole black pepper
1 Bay leaf
2 Whole cloves
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Red Chilly Powder
2 tsp Coriander powder
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
Mint for garnish
* I feel like a geek telling you about cassia and cinnamon. Just use anyone, it won't make hell of a difference. But I have to tell you they are different. Cassia is hotter and sweeter then cinnamon. Its rather thuggish in look, whereas cinnamon has a smooth surface. I read somewhere that cinnamon has more liveliness than cassia. I disagree! Cassia has a life of its own and gives a distinguishable flavor and scent to stews or dessert.
By now you might have known that I do get over with chopping job first. So here it is, slice the onion, dice the tomatoes and mince ginger and garlic.
We will be using a pressure cooker for cooking the mutton. Another typical way adopted by the Indians so to reduce the cooking time for tough meats without compromising on the texture. Its actually a blessing. It cuts the cooking time to more than a half and if you don't mess around too much, its safe too.
In a pressure cooker, take 2 tbsp of oil and when the oil is hot (but not smoking) put it cassia, black pepper, cloves, bay leaf,cumin seeds and cardamom pods.
When the cumin starts to lightly brown, its time to add the mutton pieces and sliced onions.
Also time to use some muscles. Let the mutton and onions cook together, till the onions are so soft they become transparent and almost loose themselves to the mutton. Keep stirring (every now and then) till that happens which takes around 20 minutes.
Add the ginger garlic ( ofcourse you could use the paste, I just prefer using freshly minced).
Keep stirring for another 5 minutes and add coriander, turmeric and red chilly powder
Coat the meat with the spices for 5 minutes and then add the tomatoes.
Stir for the last time. Just until the tomatoes are softened and forms a part of the masala. We are almost there I promise its going to be worth it !
Now here is a thing. The mutton is ready to be cooked now. But the consistency of the stew is your personal choice. You would add 2 cups of water and close the cooker and have thin stew which is great with rice. Or you would add only 1/2 a cup of water and have thick almost gravy based dish which is great with pita bread or Indian Chappati. Or You would do what I do, I add just once cup of water , so that I can have it with rice now and with some crusty baguette next day!
If you haven't seen a pressure cooker before, the picture above should help you. Each pressure cooker is different and you need to have an idea bout how your pressure cooker cooks. Here is my suggestion, the meat will atleast cook for 25 minutes at medium low with around 4-5 whistles. Check after this time if your meat is done, if not put it all back for another 5-10 minutes.
It was great as always. ALWAYS!