Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Deepshikha's Bengali Goat Meat Curry in Oven -- at Smokies

This Spring Break we went to the Smoky Mountains -- the Great Smoky Mountains. One of the few national parks in the east coast. I am a sucker for National Parks and after our Yellowstone trip last year, my secret desire is to visit all of them. Does not seem like that will happen in this lifetime with the money and time I have at my disposal but that does not mean I won't try.

But the Great Smoky Mountains did not happen out of my love of National Parks. It happened because that was the place decided for a mini reunion of our college friends from twenty years back. It happened millions of whatsapp chats, several hangout sessions late in the night and couple of Google spreadsheets later.

Each hangout was peppered with more serious issues than the last. Luchi or eggs and bacon at breakfast? Pathar manghso on Saturday or bbq? Cookies with tea or muri-chanachur? Pasta for kids or Maggi? Yes we are very focused like that.

Finally a beautiful 8 bedroom chalet in the mountains was booked, food items from goat meat to mustard oil, maggi to maacher chop were packed, and we were all ready for the 12 hour long drive to Tennessee.

If I am honest my first impression of the Smokies as we entered Pigeon Forge was that of deep disappointment. I had Yellowstone and Grand Canyon on my mind and had not expected traffic jams and departmental stores from Wal-Mart to Macy's at the throes of a national park. The fact that we reached on a Friday which was a holiday could have contributed to the throng of crowd.

The deck with the beautiful view

Once we managed to cross all the traffic lights and crawl onto the mountain roads, the traffic peeled off and feel of the forest came back. The path up the mountains had several switchbacks and took scary sharp turns. The trees grew closer and the air turned crisp. My faith in national parks was restored.

It was early spring and the trees were mostly bare except for the light green haze of budding new leaves and splashes of spring flowers here and there. After going through a couple of wrong turns and several phone calls to friends who were already at the chalet, we finally reached the house with a truly "breathtaking view". The Mountains rose right across from the house, its peaks swirled in the typical bluish haze that is quintessential to Smokies.

The kids had lot of fun on zip lines and horse back rides. We went to Jayell's Ranch where even the little ones could zip line on a shorter trail

It was much fun meeting friends after so many years, getting to know their kids, the better halves and generally indulging in what we call in Bengali as "bhaat" -- meaningless banter. Food and adda were the focal points in the backdrop of the mountains. It was fun to see the kids bond with their new friends and have  a great time of their own.

While we were discussing the menu in the days leading to the trip, and trust me it would always end up without a consensus, there was the question of how to cook the goat meat. Should we carry a Pressure cooker ? Will the kitchen have a large enough heavy bottomed pan to cook goat meat for twenty people ? Will Donald Trump be the president ? Should we move to Canada ? You know that kind of questions on which no consensus can be ever reached.

Smokies has lots of pretty waterfalls. We did the Laurel Fall and Grotto Fall hike. Each were approx. 3 mile round trip and easy hike with kids

At this point when everyone was arguing over chat and not really listening to anyone else, our friend from Ohio, Deepshikha said, "We will do the Panthar Mangsho(Goat Meat curry) in the oven. You don'y need anything else except for a largei-ish aluminum tray".

This was so profound that we all just stayed quiet until I mustered to courage to ask "if it tasted good". I shouldn't have. Asked that is. Deepshikha and Biplab are trailblazers in Ohio, investing a lot of time and effort in their local community, doing Durga Pujo and throwing lavish parties with tons of food. They KNOW how to cook mutton in oven and make it taste as good as kosha mangsho.

So on the Saturday that we were there, Deepshikha cooked mutton curry in the oven and it was one of the best mutton curries we have ever had. I will always remember that mutton curry with its red rich color, the melt-in-the-mouth pieces of mutton, the potatoes which stayed just perfectly cooked and most importantly not-a-single-huge-greasy-pot to wash!Yep, that alone could be a reason to make me embrace this recipe.

After we were back home, I followed Deepshikha's recipe and made this mutton in the oven. It is the easiest thing to do when you have a crowd to feed. I probably would not keep the oven on for 4 hrs, if I were cooking 2 lb of mutton but with 7-8 lb or more, this definitely makes sense.

 Two things that I did BUT you should NOT is -- I went with less oil and I didn't use enough red chilli powder or Kashmiri mirch to get the color. My curry didn't have the color that Deepshikha's had though it tasted delicious.

Lesson#1 Do not skimp on oil when you are not going to wash a single greasy pot.

Bengali Goat Meat Curry in Oven

Here is how the recipe goes. You can add spices to your taste. It will end up as good.

Marinating the meat

Wash and clean goat meat. We had the back leg from the butcher which he had cut in pieces fit for a curry. This was about 7 lb of goat meat and so the measurments are relative to that.

In a large aluminum tray, marinate the meat with all of the following

2 tbsp of garlic paste
2 tbsp of ginger paste
2 big red onion chopped fine
2 juicy red tomatoes chopped
6-8 green chilli slit

Dry Powders

1 tbsp of Radhuni Meat Curry Masala (use Bengali Garam Masala if you don't have this)
1 tsp of Cumin powder
1 tbsp of Coriander powder
1/2 tsp of Bengali Garam masala
Turmeric powder
2 tsp of Red Chilli Powder

almost 1 cup of Mustard oil
1 tbsp of Vinegar
1/2 Cup of Yogurt(optional)
salt (the meat tenderizer will have salt so be careful with the salt)

Mix everything well and set aside for 6-8 hours.
Note: Instead of adding raw chopped onion in the marinade, I have also lightly fried the onion--> made an onion paste and used that to marinate the mutton. This makes a richer taste

This recipes needs Meat Tenderizer, which I have never used before. I bought the McCormick brand Meat Tenderizer for this recipe only.
Now Deepshikha added Meat tenderizer while marinating the meat as she marinated for only 3 hours or so. I marinated the meat for a longer time and so added the meat tenderizer about 2 hours before the meat goes into the oven. Add about 3tsp of Meat Tenderizer.
Note: If you are marinating the meat for only 3 hours or so then add the meat tenderizer at the point of marination.

Take 3-4 potatoes, and peel and quarter. Add it to the same tray as the mutton and mix well with the spices.

Ready To Cook

When you are ready to cook, Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Add about 1/2-3/4th  Cup of mustard oil to the meat in the tray and cover the tray with an aluminum foil

Put the covered tray in the oven.

While Meat is cooking (approx. 4 hours in the oven)

After 1 and a half hour from start, take out the tray carefully. Open the cover and mix the meat. Now cover the tray again and put it back in the oven.

Repeat this again in 90 minutes. By the end of 3 and half hours, the meat will be almost cooked.

Cover the tray and put back in the oven until meat is cooked. It will be done by the end of 4 hours from start.


Take it out and serve with steaming white rice

After the reunion, our friends went their own way and we hung around for a few more days in the area as my kids had the school off the whole week. We luckily found a condo with great view at "The Highlands condominium" and spent the next two days lazing around, taking the cable car from Gatlinburg, doing the Motor trail and going up to Clingman's dome.
Smokies I found was a place where you needed a vacation rental with a view like this. This is the best way to enjoy the mountains, with a cup of tea and a book by the side.

On our way back home, we did a road trip by breaking up the 12 hour drive to see places along the way. We stopped at Asheville, North Carolina to see the Biltmore estate. The bonus was stay at the beautiful Inn at Biltmore estate with its gorgeous views.

After Asheville our next stop was Charlottesville, Virginia.  Here we visited Thomas Jefferson's house Monticello and reveled in some history. We took sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the trip back home and finally drove through Shenandoah to the Luray Caverns.

We have been to Luray multiple times but it was a first for Little Sis and she clearly enjoyed the stalagmite/stalactite formations.  Road trips can be really fun and though I had worried that the kids might not enjoy the drive, with our many stops and breaks, they were perfectly fine.

Now I cannot wait for the next get together in another location like the Smokies.

Luray Caverns, Virginia

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  1. This is fantastic! The picture, the text, the recipe is mind blowingly good! Deepsikha is very clever in cooking the meat in oven like this. I also found you can use a clay pot (like the chinese two dollar store clay pots) are fantastic for cooking meat curry (why any curry for that matter). Same principle, same oven, just more time, no oil, and less salt.
    Lazy as I am, I impressed my daughter and wife when they returned from India cooking lamb meat curry in it and they loved it.

    1. That is a lovely idea. have not tried clay pots. Do you have the recipe ?

  2. Can this recipe be done in Slow cooker too?

    1. I have not cooked mutton in slow cooker. Friends who have done it, do the koshano step on gas and then put in slow cooker. You can try this way and see. Let me know how slow cooker turns out ?

  3. Definitely trying this. Could be a winner when out on a vacation. What's the difference between a bengali garam masala and a normal garam masala we use in a north indian household?

    1. The normal garam masala has peppercorns and big black elaichis I think. That flavor is more robust compared to the bengali one which uses small elacihis, no peppercorn and a couple of dry red chilli. Other ingredients same.

  4. This curry looks delicious, and it sure is an interesting recipe. I am going to try this very soon. Thanks for sharing Sandeepa!

  5. What do you think should change in terms of time and masala if we were cooking same amount of chicken?

    1. Chicken cooks fast, so time will definitely be less. Try and see

  6. Thank you for the beautiful travelogue and lovely pictures....I don't feel like working anymore today...sigh! Will definitely try the recipe out....sounds delicious and hassle free.

    1. I know..take a break...work will happen :-)

  7. Looks yummy and delicious!

  8. Please could I see picture of aluminium tray...

  9. Wow, so this takes like 8 hours to make. Umm no thanks.

    1. Well actually not. If you are familiar with cooking goat meat, you would know that when you are making "kosha mangsho" on the stove top, it can easily take 2 hours to cook with all of that 2 hours involving a close watch. When you are cooking 8 Lbs or so meat, you have to be pretty vigilant for all of those hours and it might easily take more time.
      The 5-6 hours of marination is same however way you cook it. The 4 hours in the oven is little more than that needed to cook on the stove but you don't need to watch closely or stir frequently. Also when the amount is > = 7lbs, this makes a lot of difference.
      If you have ever cooked for a crowd, come back and share your opinion :-)

  10. I made this, Sandeepa. It came out really well. The tweaks I will make, for next time, is use less oil but very very good quality; add some fried onions to the marinade; add a LOT more green chillies; add only 1-2 potatoes, max. My son (college student) also made this, and he added carrots (he took the train to Jackson Heights and bought some goat meat so that he could make this :-)) This recipe is a keeper

  11. How can you say "road trips can be fun?" *smh. Road trips are the most fun thing ever. Says a road trip aficionado.

  12. Hi, can you tell me , what I can use instead of meat tenderiser? I live in Mysore, and that's not available. Can I substitute with some kachha papaya? Also, what happens to all that oil?? Thanks, planning to make this this Sunday. Thanks! Anjali

  13. Hi there! I am a big fan of your blog and your book. Thank you for helping me to become a better cook! You are truly amazing. For this recipe, can I use lamb instead of goat?


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