Monday, August 09, 2010

Mutton Rezala -- well almost

Mutton Rezala recipe

Mutton Rezala

The typical Bengali style rezala is a subtly spiced, fragrant with whole spices and kewra, yogurt-based stew with chunks of meat. It owes its origin to Mughlai cuisine. This is my recipe of Mutton Rezala, which is not exactly like the muslim restaurants in Kolkata but close.

Chicken Rezala Recipe

I had never thought I would make a Mutton Rezala at home. Heck, I didn't even know how to make a Rezala. All I knew was that Mutton Rezala was a very fragrant stew kind of mutton dish that could be found at Sabir's in Kolkata. It was heavenly but with years the taste had ebbed its sharpness and I couldn't recall how exactly it tasted. All I could remember is the anticipation and the fragrance when Baba would get Biryani or Paratha-Rezala from Sabir's on some days back home. But then I had the same excitement when he got chicken roll from Nizam's or pastries from Flury's or Khasta Kachuri from neighborhood Mahaprabhu.

So you see the tastes weren't distinct in my memory anymore and I had learned to live with the fact that Rezala was that one more unattainable thing from the past. It was a dish fit for the Nawab's who led a very luxurious and sedate life style and had no place in the new age Western World.

Mutton rezala, rezala recipe

I still thought Mutton Rezala was not something you made at Home. Hey, even Sabir's chef thought it was impossible and he would know.
"According to Ahmed the secret of the taste lies in the preparation. Anis Ahmed, another partner, however, disclosed the recipe. The ingredients are simple. Made out of mutton breast, the spices include dahi, ghee, poppy seeds (posto), zafran, and jaitri. the proportionate mixing of the spices gives it the right taste. “this is where most people go wrong,” said Ahmed. even if you are closely correct in the proportion you will never get the right taste at home. the trick, he said, is in the fuel. “you can never get the taste unless you cook it in charcoal fire,” said Ahmed

Read more: A taste of Rezala at Sabir’s - Calcutta Times - City - The Times of India

And then I saw Kalyan making a Chicken rezala at home. That was the thing that set me on track about this whole Rezala thing. And then I see Mr.Ghosh our UshnishDa making not only Mutton but Paneer and Aloo Rezala at his very own home. I guess Rezala can be made at home after all. If all these male of the species have done it successfully, the female power could do it better I thought.

Did I say better ? Ok, kidding, I did not mean better. Why would I say better ? I mean how can it be better than Anis Ahmed's slow cooked rezala on "charcoal fire".

We are the liberated, powerful, modern female. We do not use charcoal fuel. We know better. Ok what is this with better, dang, not better, best. We know best and Rezala might not be one of them. Who cares ?

But my gas cooked, pressure cookered, first attempt Mutton Rezala was really gorgeous. It was fragrant, the mutton tender and soaked with all those spices, the gravy light but spicy and everything that I could possibly ask for in a Rezala. The flavor of this dish comes from the whole spices, the cardamom, the javetri and then the magical drops of Kewra water. Everyone who had it loved it. I am not sure if they recognized it as a Rezala but they loved it none the less.

Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates. 

Since I was making this for a small lunch gathering, I made it richer and spicier. For an everyday Home Version you can choose to go light.
I have mostly followed this recipe but have also taken pointers from this and this. I have made Mutton Rezala but you can easily substitute Mutton with Chicken or even make a Vegetarian Rezala.


Mutton Rezala

Serving size : This serves about 10-12 adults when served as a part of a complete meal
Time Taken: Prep :15 mins; Marination:8-12 hrs; Cooking Time: 30-40 mins
Level of Difficulty: Medium

What You Need

Mutton/Goat Meat ~ 5lb

Onion ~ 4-5 cups of chopped red onion (4-5 medium sized onion)
Garlic ~ 12 cloves
Ginger ~ 2" piece

Yogurt 1.5 cup for marinade + 2 cups for later

Grind to a Dry Spice powder

Cardamom ~ 4 big black + 10 green
Mace/Javetri ~ 1 tbsp
Clove ~ 10
Pepper Powder ~ 1 tbsp
Nutmeg/jaiphal - a pinch of nutmeg powder

For Gravy

Onion ~ 1/2 of a large thinly sliced (Optional)

Ginger Paste ~ 2 tsp (optional)

Garlic Paste ~ 2 tsp (optional)

Cashew ~ 4 tbsp soaked and then made a paste

Kewra Water ~ 1 tsp (must for the fragrance)
Meetha Attar -- a few drops adds to the beautiful fragrance (I usually never have this but a reader suggested so adding here)
Milk ~ 4 Tbsp
Saffron ~ few strands

Salt ~ to taste
Oil ~ Cooking oil preferably Canola or Ghee
Ghee ~ 1 tbsp

Whole Spices for tempering

Bay Leaf ~ 5
Whole Red Chili ~ 15 -- Do not crack the red chili, use whole, this brings you the smell of the spice without excess heat. Depending on your spice level decrease this quantity
Black Peppercorn ~ 3 tsp whole is better or use 1 tbsp of pepper powder
Cardamom ~ 2 Black + 5 green
Clove ~ 10
Cinnamon Stick ~ 1 stick

How I Did It

Step 1

Grind to a dry powder the spices listed under "Grind to Dry Powder"

Step 2

Heat Oil

Lightly fry the 5 cup of onion + 12 clove of garlic + 2" piece of ginger until onion is soft and pink
Cool and make a paste.
Add to this 1 cup of yogurt and blend well

Traditional Route: Don't fry onion, garlic, ginger, just make a paste of above. However my raw onion paste sometimes gets bitter so I prefer this.

Step 3

In a big large mouthed bowl (or use an aluminum tray) add the washed and cleaned mutton pieces.
Add the paste + yogurt from Step 2
Add the dry spice powder from Step 1
Add salt to taste
Mix well
Let it rest for 2-3 hours, overnight is better.

Step 4

Heat Oil + 1 tbsp Ghee in a heavy bottomed large pan

Temper the Oil with all spices listed under Whole Spice. Add about 1/2 tsp of sugar.

When the spices sizzle add 1/2 of an onion sliced thin and fry till onion starts to brown
Add 2 tsp of Ginger Paste + 2 tsp of Garlic Paste and fry for couple of minutes
Traditional route: Skip this step

Remove the meat pieces from the marinade, shaking off any excess liquid and add to the pan. Saute the meat pieces till the raw pink coloring is gone. A lot of water will be released at this point and it will smell heavenly.

In a bowl beat about 2-3 cups of yogurt + cashew paste. I also add a little sugar to the yogurt. If your yogurt is very thick, add 1/2 Cup of water to thin it out.
Lower the heat and add this along with the remaining marinade to the pan. Mix everything nicely. Note: Use 3 cups yogurt for a lighter gravy, 2 cups for not too soupy one.

Add salt to taste.

Transfer everything to a Pressure Cooker.If you think that the liquid is not enough, add some water.Add a tsp of Kewra Water. The Kewra Water is important, DO NOT skip it, you can use Rose Water or a little Meetha Attar if you don't have Kewra Water.

Now close the lid of the pressure cooker.  Keep heat at medium and cook till Mutton is tender. Do not over cook. Since I had marinated the meat for close to 18 hrs, mine was done in 10 minutes after full pressure build up.
Note: If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook the meat in the pan but it will take about 45-60 minutes. You will also need to stir in between and add water if necessary to avoid the meat from sticking to the bottom.

In a small bowl heat 3-4 Tbsp of milk. Add a few strands of saffron to the warm milk and mix. Once the meat is done and you can open the lid of the cooker add the milk+saffron and close the lid again.

Let it sit for 30 minutes and then serve with Rice, Biryani or Naan.

Similar Recipes:

Hyderabadi Maraag

Patha'r Mangshor Jhol

Mutton Stew for Kids

Trivia: The Mughal influence in Bengali Cuisine was reinforced in the Raj era, when Kolkata became the place of refuge for many prominent exiled Nawabs, especially the family of Tipu Sultan from Mysore and Wajid Ali Shah, the ousted Nawab of Awadh. The exiles brought with them hundreds of cooks and masalchis (spice mixers). These highly accomplished cooks came with the knowledge of a very wide range of spices (most notably jafran saffron and mace), the extensive use of ghee as a method of cooking, and special ways of marinating meats.
Specialties include chap (ribs slow cooked on a tawa), rezala (meat in a thin yogurt and cardamom gravy) and the famous kathi roll (kebabs in a wrap)


  1. Luv this with rotis....looks so tasty and yummy

  2. Had never heard of this dish b4 ..... the magic of spices and mutton !!

    Cheers n Happy Cooking,

  3. Ooh.. Bong Mom is making Biryanis and Rezalas at home!! Too good! Have yet to gather courage to make any mutton at home. So far I am only chicken and seafood cooker. That stew looks just so tantalizing!! :)

  4. Always an honour to feature on your blog Sandeepa. The rezala looks straight out of nizam. Fantastic

  5. I hear you sister! I have heard of the Rezala and eaten at Nizam's. But never knew the recipe. And then you go ahead and educate us with this smashing recipe with ingredients I seem to have at home, except of course the goat meat.

    Ene nischoi banabo tomaar Rezala.

  6. Sandeepa,

    rezala ami kono din barite banani ..Ushnish dar rezala recipe ta porechilaam ...and now you all are making me hungry now with this yummy mutton rezala.
    hugs and smiles

  7. The memory of the exact taste of Sabir's Rezala has faded for me too. The only thing that I rememeber is how I would enjoy it. Thanks for this Sandeepa. Will make it...

  8. I think I've made a ghazala, not a rezala - the ground spice mix sounds really interesting! And I threw out a kewra bottle because I wasn't using it anywhere!

  9. nice combo with rotis...yum yum!

  10. I have never had this even thoug i have heard aobut this dish.
    We don't get mutton here, so maybe i should check out her chicken recipe.

  11. Never heard of rezala before... Looks delicious though!

  12. I logged in to ur blog to check dhokar dalna recipe... and found Rezala.....yummy.... thnx so much..

  13. From the bowl i can smell the aroma of the spices and when u mention kewar...i am drooling here....simply heavenly....

  14. heyy :) just read some of your food fiction....loved re Ms. Lahiri of food blog world :)keep writing.

  15. Sabir's make the best Rezala and nobody else can come near to them.Your preparation gives the taste near to it. I just tried and wish others to follow.

  16. Hi Wonderful recipe. Can we have a recipe of Daab Chingri? Or if it is already there can I get the URL? I tried searching for the same in this site.

  17. Few of my friends had come home yesterday. I made this .... it was a big hit! Thnx so much for sharing this recipe...

  18. Sandeepa,

    Tried the Rezala with Chicken and turned out awesome. I have published it in my blog. Please do visit whenever u r free.

  19. Hi Sandeepa...made your mutton rezala for the nth time and as everytime it was a superhit. This dish has a very special space in my heart...thanks for giving me a piece of my childhood back. Please have a look at my post to see if I could do justice to your wonderul recipe :)

  20. hello ma'am..can i try with beef?

    1. I myself have never tried eating or cooking a beef rezala but it is possible, I think Beef Rezala is popular in Bangladesh too

  21. i just reco'd this to a reader on my fb page who wanted a good mutton rezala recipe :)

  22. Tried the Motton Rezala today... as in.. made it... came out really nice. Hadn't heard about this dish till this morning and being Doshomi my Mashi wanted to try something new and that is when the name came up. Thank you for making it a nice time for the family. Mom and Dad said thanks :-)

  23. Tried the Mutton Rezala today... as in made it... came out really nice. I hadn't heard about this dish till this morning and being Doshomi, my Mashi wanted to try something new. Then is when the name came up. Thank for enabling a fun lunch with the family. Mom and Dad said thanks :-)

  24. I too have tried to find the Sabir's taste for both rezala and chaap. for some reason it falls short....guess that is how it will be. Haajis also did a good chaap but no one matched sabirs. As kids we often ran out of money once we began to eat at Sabirs and one of us would have to walk home asking for more money while the other boys sat at the table, hostaqe....
    i have actually bolied the meat in milk and spices and then cooked it...brings similar results...

  25. Prepared it today. It was awesome and delicious. Made a bit change, used 1 kg mutton ribs and used 2 tbsp kewra water and remaining things were constant.
    Thanks for the recipes. It was food of the year for us.

  26. What a shame you've removed the recipe.

  27. Vow have to use only ribs meat, yoghurt has to be v sour and add coconut milk. Not regular milk

  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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