If you’re hosting a Tamil lunch or dinner party, then you know mutton is expected of you. Cooking a good mutton curry is all about the timing and good meat. This is my mother-in-law’s recipe that I made. She’s a great cook and sticks to vary traditional methods in her cooking, so she doesn’t use tomatoes or tamarind in this curry. You may choose to do so if you want to add more tanginess or sourness to your curry.
Mutton curry is not a dish we make often in our house because of all the fat in mutton, so when we do make it, we try to make it right. We usually make it mostly when we have family over. For mutton curry, you want to cook the meat so that is just right, not too soft. You want it to taste ‘meaty’ and like mutton. I know some people prefer really soft mutton, but no one in my family does, so this is the recipe we use.
Here’s the recipe:
- Chopped onions (2 medium sized or ~ 6 smaller ones)
- Turmeric powder (to clean and half a tablespoon for curry)
- Garlic (half a bulb, crushed)
- Jaffna Curry powder (2-3 tablespoons)
- Cinnamon stick (half a stick)
- Karambu (2-3 pieces)
- Green chillies (2-3, or to taste)
- Salt (To taste)
- Curry leaves (handful)
- First cut the mutton into cubes. You want to remove all the fat. The fat does add flavour, but too much of it is not good for your health. This can be a long task, but ultimately is better for you. You won't be able to remove all the fat, which is okay since some of it is needed for the curry. Also remember to add the bones, they are what give the curry a rich flavour. And who doesn't love mutton bone marrow?
- Now wash the meat with water and turmeric. Remove any excess water and set aside in a bowl.
- In the bowl with the cut mutton pieces, add half a tablespoon of turmeric powder, a tablespoon salt, cinnamon sticks and karambu. Mix well.
- Add one tablespoon of Jaffna curry powder and mix again. Cover, and set it aside to soak in the spices for half and hour to an hour before cooking.
- In a pot, heat sesame oil. Once the oil is hot, add a 3/4- 1 tablespoon kadugu and let it pop.
- Add 2 chopped onions. When chopping onions for mutton curry, sliver the onions thinly so it cooks well. You want to cook until they are golden brown. When they get half golden, add curry leaves.
- Add ginger garlic paste, or crushed ginger and garlic.
- Drain the oil from the pot and add the mutton pieces. Cover and let it cook for 15-20 minutes on medium heat, until about 3/4 cooked. DO NOT OPEN THE LID. There needs to be some pressure built up for the taste to really seal. There will be liquid forming in the pot from the bones and the meat. If you do not have enough bones, you may need to add half a cup to one cup of water. Be sure to check this through the glass lid, without opening the pot. Only open it if you need to add some water.
- Open, add another tablespoon of Jaffna Curry Powder and adjust for salt. Add 7-8 more curry leaves. Cover the lid quickly and let it cook until fully cooked.
- Remove from heat, set aside and check for salt and adjust if needed. You can add some ground peppercorns if needed.