Sunday Mutton (Mangshor Jhol)
Mutton curry or mangshor jhol evokes the nostalgia of a lazy Sunday afternoon for Bengalis at any part of the world and I am no exception. In almost every Bengali household mangshor jhol and bhat (rice) was the standard but all time favourite menu for Sunday lunch rounded off with some mishti doi (sweet curd) at the end.
As a popular dish among Bengalis there are few minor variations in the standard recipe. Some choose to marinade the mutton overnight others just for couple of hours but I do believe that if the mutton is of good quality then it does not need a marinade. Similarly, when it comes to adding potatoes to the jhol or curry some prefer to fry them beforehand while there are others who add the potatoes directly to the pan without frying. But whichever way it is prepared, ultimately it turns out to be delicious. As they say, “All roads lead to Rome”. The recipe I am sharing here is the way I prefer to prepare this traditional dish. I named it the “Sunday Mutton Curry” as a reminder to those golden lazy Sunday afternoons.
Mutton, pieces from raan (front / hind leg): 1 kg.
Onion: 4 big sized, julienned
Ginger paste: 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste: 1 tablespoon
Green chilli: few, according to taste
Potato: 8 medium sized (for 4 persons)
Papaya (optional): peeled and cut into 3 or 4 big chunks
Garam masala (whole)
Bay leaf: 1 piece
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch piece
Green cardamon: 4 pieces
Black cardamom: 1 piece
Dhania powder: 1 tablespoon
Jeera powder: 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder: 1 tablespoon
Kashmiri chilli powder: 2 tablespoon (for the vibrant red colour and mild hotness)
Mustard oil: 3 tablespoon
Heat 3 tablespoon of mustard oil in the pressure cooker.
Add the whole garam masalas – 1 bay leaf, 4 to 5 green cardamom and a cinnamon stick of about an inch long. Saute the whole garam masalas for about a minute or till the aromas get infused into the oil.
Add the longitudinally chopped (julienned) onions. Stir fry it till the onions turn light golden in colour. However, be attentive to ensure the onions do not get burned. You may notice that the oil starts separating from the edges of the onions and emanating a sweet smell.
Add ginger paste and garlic paste. I always prefer using fresh ginger and garlic paste than a ready made one; the readymade ones often have a strong smell of preservatives. After adding the ginger and garlic paste fry for about couple of minutes.
Add the mutton pieces (marinated for about 2 hours with turmeric powder), 1 teaspoon of cumin powder and 1 teaspoon of coriander powder. Stir the mutton pieces in the cooker till all the added spices get properly mixed with it. Here you need some patience and effort. Keep on stirring occasionally till the meat pieces appear moistened; you can see some glaze in it.
Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and salt according to taste. All along, as much as possible I try to cook it covered by loosely placing the lid of the pressure cooker on the top (without locking it). This helps to retain the moisture inside and avoids getting dried too much. (Although, if it gets dried nothing to worry about, simply sprinkle some water into it). Anyway, after adding salt, generally it will release some moisture from the meat.
Add the potatoes. How many potatoes? The thumbrule that I apply – everyone should get two potatoes each (atleast). Although, depending on the size of the potatoes and capacity of the pressure cooker, the number goes up. Potatoes are an essential part of the dish. If available, add some pieces of raw papaya as that will help to soften the mutton pieces.
Cook it stirring for about 5 minutes more. Then add about three-quarts of lukewarm water, kashmiri mirch powder, a pinch of hing (asafoetida) and juice of a lemon. I ensure the volume of water is just enough to merge or sub-merge the mutton, potato and papaya pieces.
Now, for one more time stir it well and close the lid of the pressure cooker for the whistles. Depending on the quality of meat, whistling may vary from 2 to 4 times, in order to get the meat properly done. Generally, the place from where I purchase the meat, just 2 whistles are good enough to get it done.
Once the steam inside the pressure cooker has been released entirely and the lid comes off easily I taste a spoonful of ‘jhol’ (the curry) and a small portion of a mutton piece to check whether the meat is done or there is any need for minor adjustments of salt or sweetness.
According to me, the taste gets enhanced if the curry is prepared the day before.
I prefer the meat with a bit of fat (‘charbi’) in it. The fat enhances the taste of the gravy manifold.
If the potatoes are large in size cut them in halves. I, however, prefer to add medium sized whole potatoes without halving them at all.