Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Indian Mutton Stew

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 so famous known in other parts of the world. And I don't know why? why? After a bit of googling I have drawn the following conclusion :

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

Note :
* 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!



  1. Really tasty gravy. Keep your talent rocking

  2. This looks delicious! I love mutton as well - everything from saltish mutton to in a masala gravy. In North America mutton is incredibly difficult to find (you have to go to a handful of specialty stores, and only if you're lucky enough to be in a region with a strong South East Asian contingent). I just recently found a store that sells goat, which I also love, but it's a lot leaner than mutton which is sometimes a pity.

  3. @forkbootsandapalette
    Thank you!
    @Kuwait bakers blog
    Thank you so much !
    @ Tina
    From all your posts I can make out you do have a great access to South East Asian stores. Isn't it exciting when you find the unique things you just heard about, and then they are right there infront of you. And you get ripped off ? And you just can't can't can't stop!! I get ripped off buying western world things like Parmesan or fresh mozeralla, or even avocado.
    I Love your adventurous spirit for spice :D Enjoy Goating !

  4. that looks sooo yummy dear....first time here..nice blog with so many detailed pics for the recipe..will keep visiting for sure :)

  5. Wow, it looks divine Kulsum!
    We don't get muton here in my part of the world very easily and my husband is just in love with it. I guess now I need to drive 20 miles to the halal market to get some :-)

  6. Tweeting this one as well!:-) All are great recipes!

  7. great recipe....but this is not a is a curry

  8. Hi Ashok! Thanks but I would beg to differ. Firstly I generally tend to shy away from using the word curry as its not an Indian word but something the west has been using to define Indian food incorrectly.

    The definition for stew " a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy" Besides this is much thinner than your regular gravy based dishes so it is certainly a stew! Yes, you could reduce it down to thick gravy which we call "bhuna gosht"

  9. Dear Kalsum

    Such care went into your recipe post, complete with photos. Our family lived at the Tandoori in London. Now I live in South Africa, and we love this type of cooking. I use a pressure cooker, and am ready to start, with this mutton recipe. Thank you so much.


  10. Dear Kulsum
    My Brother and his wife live in Sante Fe. He is Chippewa and she is Navaho.Near the Shiprock Navaho, reservation, Mutton stew is one of the most popular dishes amoung the People. All Navaho children grew ou on Mutton stew. The local McDonalds even surves it. I Don't know where you live, But wonderful mutton stew is alive and available in the south west united states.Greg Bradley, Brother of David Bradley, Native American Artist of Note.

  11. I tried this recipe out yesterday we have a large Indian/Pakistani/Bangladesh community in the Area so Mutton and lamb are wideley available It was fantastic and tonight for some friends we are trying it with Chicken Thank you so much graet recipe and easy to follow

  12. Thanks for a great recipe. I love using my pressure cooker for Indian food. I had some mutton given by a hunter friend and looked for a recipe with ingredients I had on hand and this was perfect. Smelled heavenly while cooking and very delicious.

  13. Hi Kulsum,
    Greetings from South Africa.
    I LOVE your blog.
    I have been looking for a good mutton stew recipe for ages. Unfortunately I don't own a pressure cooker. Can I cook this stew in a normal pot, and just leave it to simmer for longer?
    Please advise!

    1. Hi Emma! I'm glad to know you are liking the blog. You could certainly use a regular pot and a heavy bottom pot would be best. It should take double the time to cook but it also depends on the quality of meat. So, keep cooking it covered until the meat is almost fall of the bone tender. Do let me know how it goes!

  14. Hi Kulsum,

    I tried this recipe, basically the sequence of steps as you mentioned and the mutton keema turned out really good. Thanks a lot.

  15. this was truly awesome, just like the ones I've tasted at restaurants. thank you for sharing. I cooked with a claypot and it turned out very soft though the cooking hours was longgg.

  16. Its look great! But we made it minus tomato...

  17. This sounded so good, So we made it the other night. And was absolutely delicious. Thanks do much for sharing. Simon


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