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.
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 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1885223942.cms#ixzz0vqR8u3Z9
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.
Hmmm...so 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.
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 ~ 5 cups of chopped red onion
Garlic ~ 12 cloves
Ginger ~ 2" piece
Yogurt 1 cup for marinade + 2 or 3 cups for later
Grind to a Dry Spice powder
Cardamom ~ 4 big black + 20 green
Mace/Javetri ~ 1 tbsp
Clove ~ 10
Pepper Powder ~ 1 tbsp
Onion ~ 1/2 of a large thinly sliced (Optional)
Ginger Paste ~ 2 tsp
Garlic Paste ~ 2 tsp
Cashew ~ 4 tbsp soaked and then made a paste
Kewra Water ~ 1 tsp (must for the fragrance)
Milk ~ 2 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 ~ 3-4 tsp whole is better or use 1 tbsp of pepper powder
Cardamom ~ 2 Black + 10 green
Clove ~ 15
Cinnamon Stick ~ 4-5
How I Did It
Grind to a dry powder the spices listed under "Grind to Dry Powder"
Fry the 5 cup of onion + 12 clove of garlic + 2" piece of ginger until onion is soft and browned at edges
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
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
Let it rest for 2-3 hours, overnight is better.
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. Lower the heat and add this along with the remaining marinade to the pan. Mix everything nicely. Note: Use 3 cups 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 if you don't have Kewra Water.
Now close the lid 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 1-2 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.
Things I did not do right : The meat was cooked to perfection the first time. In haste I put the Cooker back on fire and cooked for 5 minutes more. This slightly over cooked the mutton and changed the gravy's lightness. The gravy could/should have been a bit more thinner & lighter. I only used 3 cups of yogurt, so I have increased the amount in the recipe here
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)