After all the episodes of Masterchef and endless evenings spent reading cookery books like they were fiction, I firmly believe that the yummiest foods are the ones that are the easiest to make or have the fewest ingredients...well that may not apply to desserts but it does to most main courses. Today dad asked for a particular meal and he rarely asks, so I had to do this one! He wanted mutton korma with naans! Both are super easy actually! The korma is a delicate dish in the sense that too much of any one ingredient can make it over the top and for me personally the objective is to get the mutton’s sweetness out ... I have made the korma with only mutton fat (charbi) and it was devastatingly good, as in – one couldn’t stop!!! The key factor with a meat like mutton lies in the fact that it is an older animal versus lamb, so it needs a little more treatment and a little less attention. Seriously, leave the curry be! I stir mutton curries twice, maybe thrice and that’s in a span of around 40 minutes, this meat cooks best covered, lightly moistened and undisturbed. I am yet to pressure cook mutton, I do give it one whistle to make the meat open up a bit but that’s only if I am doing meaty raan pieces, if it’s a ‘chaamp’ (chops) curry like this one, then I don’t bother at all. It’s a masala fest all the way!
The naans are not the real thing because I don’t have a ‘tandoor’ but they are pretty close, I feel the oven dries flatbreads really quickly and if you overdo oil/butter them, they’re way heavier than they need to be. So the Tava is the best way to go, you can use a skillet for grill lines but I sometimes feels the Naan cooks unevenly inside on a grill pan surface.
This is a total winter meal for us. We make a salad with slivered red onion, lime juice, smoked paprika and salt ...make it ahead of the meal, the onions gets all tender and yum!
½ kg mutton ribs (chaamp) marinated in 2 tbsp yoghurt and 1 tbsp cream if you have any, along with 1 tsp paprika.
4 large red onions, minced
8-10 garlic pods, crushed
2” ginger piece, crushed
2 black cardamoms
4 green cardamoms
1” stick of cinnamon
5 dry red chillies
4 heaped tbsp of ghee, yes all of that!
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
2 tbsp red chilli powder or paprika, I use Deggi mirch, the fine seedless one, and yes that’s the way this curry rolls!
If you pureed the onions with water, then dry off the onion paste in a hot pressure cooker. I use a pressure cooker not to pressure cook the meat but because it is one of my few heavy bottom pans, if I am short on time, I do give a quick whistle to finish the dish off ...thus this choice of vessel! Heat the ghee in a small separate pan, lightly fry all the whole spices in the hot ghee, pour over the onion paste, add all the garlic/ginger and fry for 5-6 minutes or till the masala gets some colour. I don’t usually brown this paste because I like to retain the onion sweetness in the final form. Plop in the chops, turn up the heat and fry on high flame for about 2-4 minutes, till each chop gets a cooked colour, a pale pink/grey. Put the flame on low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the dry masalas and salt, I don’t like to mess with cooking mutton in terms of handling but I like to add all the flavours in batches so there is a reinforcement of flavour every once in a while. This is basic braising, it takes time and I don’t want these chops drying up. Then I kind of leave these untouched for around 30 minutes, stir once to make sure they don’t dry up, you can sprinkle water if they do. That’s it, they’re done. Serve with a dollop of fresh cream or hung curds. If this is not spicy enough for you, do what I do for orders, serve with an added dollop of chipotle paste or on the side.
Chipotle chillies are very complementary to Indian meats, especially ones where you don’t use tomatoes or any other tangy agent. Try it!