Succulent mutton, a fragrant, spicy gravy and potatoes that have soaked up flavors from both; is there anything more comforting on a lazy Sunday afternoon? I first tasted this curry at a friends’ home a few years ago and asked for the recipe right after the first bite! Can’t thank them enough for sharing their Lucknowi family recipe, handed down through generations. It relies on a heady spice blend made from scratch, caramelized onions and tangy tomatoes. The resulting gravy is delicious but not overly rich. Potatoes aren’t part of the original recipe, but the addition makes this dish supremely comforting.
The key to getting this dish right is the ‘Bhuno’-ing of the masala. To ‘Bhuno’ is to cook a masala until all of the ingredients are well done and lose their raw taste. The typical Indian instruction to getting it right is: cook until all of the moisture evaporates the oil begins to separate from the masala. It takes a fair bit of patience and so I’d recommend this recipe for a weekend 😄
Recipe: Mutton Curry with Potatoes
- A mixer / blender/ grinder
- A pressure cooker or heavy bottomed pot
For the Spice Blend
- 8 Ilaichi (Green Cardamom)
- ¼ tsp grated Nutmeg
- 2 whole pieces Mace
- 2 Badi Ilaichi (Black Cardamom) [Use only the seeds and discard the pod skins]
- ½ tsp Shai Jeera (Caraway Seeds)
- ½ tsp Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
- 18 – 20 whole Pepper Corns
- 2 tsp Coriander Seeds
For the Ground Masala
- 15 medium sized cloves Garlic [roughly5 tsps of crushed garlic]
- 2-inch-long piece Ginger
- 2 medium sized Onion
- 4 Tomatoes
For the Gravy
- 2 tbs Ghee [alternate: vegetable or sunflower oil]
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 medium sized Onions
- 1 kg Mutton [a mix of one the bone and boneless pieces]
- 2 Green Chilies
- 2 tsps Chili Powder
- 5½ cups Warm Water
- 4 medium sized Potatoes
- Dry roast all of the spices listed under ‘For the Spice Blend’ on low heat for about 5mins until fragrant.
- Once cooled, grind the spices to a fine powder. Add a quarter tsp of salt while grinding the spices to act as an abrasive. Here’s how fine you want the spice blend to be:
- Grind all the ingredients listed under ‘For the Ground Masala’ to a coarse paste.
- Wash the mutton and set aside to drain in a large colander/ sieve. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a heavy bottomed pot/ pressure cooker; add the bay leaves stir until fragrant. Next add 2 large finely sliced onions and sauté on low heat till brown. Here’s how brown you want the onions to get:
- Add the mutton to the browned onions, a few pieces at a time, making sure to sauté for at least 30 seconds between additions1. Do this on medium-high heat.
- Once the mutton has browned, add the spice blend to the mutton and stir until all the pieces are evenly coated. Sauté for a minute.
- Next, add the ground masala, green chilies and salt to the pot; stir well.
- Turn the heat down to as low as possible. Place a lid over the pot and use a spoon to leave the lid slightly open, like you see in the picture below. This is to help the moisture escape.
- Allow the masala to cook on a low flame for about 20 mins; make sure to stir intermittently so that none of the masala sticks to the bottom and burns. You want it to get to a point where the oil begins to separate2.
- Add 2 tsps of chili powder to the masala and sauté for a minute. Next add 4 cups of recently boiled water to the pot and cook until the mutton is tender. If using a pressure cooker, this should take about 15 mins.
- Once the meat has cooked, add another cup and a half of warm water, salt and the cubed potatoes to the pot. Cook until the potatoes are soft. If using the pressure cooker again, this should take 3 minutes. Here’s how the gravy will look once done; the oil would have risen to the top.
- Stir well, taste check and adjust the seasoning (salt) if needed. Serve with hot rotis, ghee rice or a pulao of your choice.
1 The idea of adding only a few pieces of mutton at a time is to sear the mutton and seal in its juices; if you add all of the pieces to the pot at once, they won’t have enough room to sear and will begin to release moisture.
2Here’s a video to help you understand how long to cook the ground masala. When you make a well in the middle of the pot with a sauté spoon, you will see the oil separate and start to seep away from the masala.
This recipe is perfect for a Sunday special meal, or for when you have guests over. Give it a shot over the weekend and let me know how it goes in the comments below!🖖