Phissssssssssh went the pressure cooker, not once or twice but 5-6 times. With each whistle the appetizing fragrance would trace the room, trying to find its way out of the wide windows. The sun would be high up by then and the drapes drawn in while the Rasna Kids sang aloud happily on the Tele. As Spiderman saved the world the mind wandered in anticipation of lunch.
Ma would be busy in the kitchen, her cotton saree damp and smelling headily of all the spices. If you dug your face in her coolness, today would smell different. It was Sunday and you would smell Mangsho'r jhol (Mutton/Chicken Curry). A Sunday Lunch menu that once united almost all Bongs, it was a tradition of sorts to have nothing but mangsho'r jhol & bhaat for Sunday lunch. The meat could vary, it could be patha'r mangsho(goat meat) for the more traditional, archaic family or murgi(chicken) for the noveau ones.
The recipe wouldn't vary much. It would revolve around the same core with potatoes and lots of gravy. You wouldn't see a Murgh Malai or Lamb Chop i.e. just any preparation of meat would not do. Those were stuff for evenings, maybe dinner but Sunday Lunch was different, it was always the same mangsho'r jhol that had Bangali Sunday Lunch written in bold all over it
My grandparents were strict Brahmins and adhered to Bengali Brahmin norms. That didn't mean much except that the only meat that was allowed in their home was patha'r mangsho (goat meat) and not murgi (aka chicken). So Sunday lunch was almost always goat meat curry and rice. I wasn't very fond of goat meat then but loved the gravy and the potatoes in it.
I vaguely remember a particular period of our life, a couple of months maybe, my parents were going through some difficult financial situation. My grandma was not well and I think the food budget was adjusted in lieu of her treatment. I was too young(maybe 6 or 7) to understand but I do remember the Sunday mangsho'r jhol was off the menu and there used to be fish for lunch instead. One such Sunday I was visiting friends and the familiar smell of Mangsho'r Jhol at their home triggered the latent longing in me. I don't remember what I told my Ma but I do remember that the familiar smell was back at our kitchen next Sunday onwards. Maybe my Ma cooked meat just for me or maybe the finances solved themselves but that is how mangsho'r jhol is woven into crevices of my memory
Times have changed. We hardly eat goat meat or any red meat that much. There is no fixed menu for a Sunday lunch at my home to weave memories. But Patha'r mangsho or goat meat still holds a lofty place and is cooked on special occasions. So that is how this got cooked when friends were visiting some weeks back.
On a leisurely Sunday we had a delectable Patha'r mangsho'r jhol (goat meat curry) with white rice amidst much laughter and adda(gossip), spending hours sucking the juicy marrows over a lazy delicious lunch
What was/is your Sunday lunch tradition ?
Patha'r Mangshor Jhol ~ Goat Meat Curry
Prep: Dry Roast 8 Green Cardamaom/Elaichi, 8-10 Clove/Laung, one or two 1/2" bark of mace/javetri, 1" stick of cinnamon, 3 Dry Red Chilli on a stove top or pop them in the oven for a couple of minutes. Grind them to a fine powder. This acts as my Garam Masala and this is the masala that will be used in this mutton curry
Marinate 3lb of mutton(goat meat) with 2 tsp of ginger paste, 2 tsp of garlic paste, a little turmeric, 1 tbsp of Vinegar, 1 tsp of Mustard Oil and salt for 3-4 hours or overnight
Heat Oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan
Fry 2 &1/2 - 3 cups chopped red onion, 2 fat clove of garlic chopped, 1 medium tomato chopped and 2" piece of peeled and chopped ginger till the onion is soft and pink and tomatoes are softened
Cool and grind the above to make a onion+tomato+garlic+ginger paste
Make separate paste of onion and a separate ginger + garlic paste. Amount remains same. My Ma does it this way.
Heat Oil in a heavy deep bottomed pan
Temper the oil with whole spices as follows: 4 Cardamom/Elaichi, 4 Clove/Laung, 2 Bay Leaf/Tej-Patta, 2" cinnamon stick/Darchini
As soon as you get the fragrance of the spices add the onion+ginger+garlic+tomato paste. If you have made separate pastes, add the onion paste first and fry till onion is a nice pinkish brown, then add ginger+garlic paste and fry for 1-2 minutes and then add the chopped tomato
Fry with 1/4 tsp of sugar till oil separates from masala
Meanwhile in a small bowl make a paste with 4 tsp yogurt, 1 heaped tsp Cumin Powder, 1 heaped tsp Corriander powder, 1 tsp of Red Chilli Powder (adjust according to your level), the Dry Masala you made and 1 tsp of garlic paste(optional)
Lower the heat and add this masala paste. Add 1 more medium tomato finely chopped
Fry for 2-3 minutes
Add the mutton and mix the mutton nicely with the masala
Add salt, lower the heat to medium and let the mutton cook in its own juice. Stir in between to facilitate the meat to soak up the spices
While the mutton is cooking in a separate pan fry 1-2 potatoes that had been peeled and quartered with a little turmeric. The potatoes will not be cooked but just take on a nice golden color. Do not cook further and keep aside.
When the mutton has lost its raw coloring and it smells nice you can transfer the whole thing to a pressure cooker along with the potatoes and cook it in the pressure cooker.
If you have time on hand do this. Cook the mutton at low heat in the covered pan itself. Remember to stir in between and add water if necessary. Some water has to be added for the gravy, adjust the amount of water according to your wish. You can use a slow cooker if you have one and cook the mutton in it too.
If you are cooking in the pan, check when mutton is near to be done and then add the potatoes.
Cook till mutton and potatoes are done
Check for seasonings and adjust to taste. You might need to add a tsp of garam masala. I sometimes add juice of half a lime and finely chopped coriander at the end.
Enjoy this delicious mutton curry with any kind of rice or bread
Though not the usual trend you can garnish this dish with chopped corriander. Also when I am having this mutton curry with rice I like to squeeze a little lime juice on it and have onions as a side.
Update: I forgot to add that D (the husband) makes a goat meat curry which is simpler and yet very flavorful. Shall post that next time he cooks.
Also wanted to add that instead of making onion paste many times my Ma would use finely chopped onion too. For a larger crowd I find it easier to make a paste than chop fine