Monday, March 16, 2020

Parsi style Mutton Curry with Apricots

Parsi style Mutton Curry with Apricots, Persian Mutton Curry
Parsi style Mutton Curry with Apricots

Last week I realized I know very little.

Like Toilet Paper plays a crucial role in times of Coronavirus.

Or like  a small country like South Korea is far more equipped to combat Covid-19 than US.

Or like dried apricot is used in a Mutton Curry!!

This last piece of info was shared with me by my friend Deepshikha, whose neighbor fed her a Parsi mutton curry with dried apricots. I honestly had no idea that dried apricots could be put in a mutton curry or else I would not have finished half the pack just eating them. Thankfully, I had half a pack left.

My friend didn't have the recipe but said it is just like or Mangshor Jhol but with Apricots. It's a bit sweet and sour. "Add more chilies", if you want it spicy is what she said. I was definitely intrigued and wanted to make this mutton curry.

Now the problem is, we eat red meat or goat meat only very rarely. And then when we do, the girls want a very Bengali Mangsho'r Jhol with potatoes. They don't like me experimenting.

Last Sunday, not paying heed to their protests, I went ahead and made this Mutton Curry. Initially, I had kept the heat from chillies low and the dish did face protests in my home as too sweet. Next day I added some more green chilies and simmered the gravy. It became  a major hit!! The recipe here has a fair amount of chili and is hot. If you want a milder dish, cut down the green chilli.

Apricot or "jardaloo" in Parsi is a very important ingredient of this dish which can be traced back to the use of meat and fruits in the Persian cuisine.
"In the 17th century, India’s Mughal emperor Shah Jahan – famed for his enormous appetite and love of food and luxury – insisted on importing expensive ingredients and an army of cooks from Persia. Its influence stuck for many centuries. The cuisine of Lucknow and also areas of Bombay  still draws heavily on Persian influences – sweet and sour, spice and dairy, meat and fruit – all mixed with savoury dishes" -- from The Guardian

In fact, Jardaloo Salli Boti, a dish of meat cooked with apricots and topped with "salli" (potato crisps), is a true Parsi Cuisine classic with strong Persian touches like dried apricot (jardaloo,) red vinegar and sugar along with a blend of mouthwatering Indian spices.

What I have made here is not exactly Jardaloo Salli Boti. We will call it Parsi style Mutton Curry with Apricots. I have taken some liberty and mixed up the spices a bit.
Instead of just cumin and coriander powder I have used a different spice blend which makes this dish more spicier as I wanted to cut through the sweetness that the apricots will bring. The recipe here has a fair amount of chili and is hot. If you want a milder dish, cut down the green chili.

At the end of the day, with sweetness of the apricots, the heat from the masalas and the tang from the yogurt and vinegar, this was a delicious mutton curry that we really enjoyed.

Parsi style Mutton Curry with Apricots

Goat Meat/Mutton -- 2-3 lb

For Marinade

Ginger paste -- 1 Tbsp
Garlic paste -- 1 Tbsp
Yogurt -- 1/4th Cup
Turmeric powder -- 1/2 tsp
Paprika/Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp

For Tempering

Bay leaves -- 1
Cinnamon -- 2" thin stick
Cardamom -- 4
Cloves - 4
Star Anise -- 1
Javetri - 1 petal

Onion -- 1 medium sliced
Garlic -- 4-6 fat cloves sliced
Tomato - 1 medium chopped
Coriander/Cilantro - chopped for garnish
Green Chilies - 4 chopped
Apricots - 6-8 dried apricots chopped

Yogurt - 1/4th Cup
Almonds -- 10 almonds ground to a dry powder
The Spice Powder you made - 1 Tbsp
White Vinegar - 1 Tbsp

Make the Dry Spice powder

Whole Coriander seeds -- 2 Tbsp
Fennel seeds -- 2 tsp
Cumin seeds -- 2 tsp
Black peppercorn -- 2 tsp
Methi seeds - 1 tsp
Dry Red Chili -- 8

Lightly roast all the above spices on a skillet until you see the spices turning a hint of brown and you get a spicy aroma. Cool and make a fine powder


Make the Dry Spice powder

Marinate the mutton with
1 Tbsp Ginger paste
1 Tbsp Garlic paste
1/4th Cup Yogurt
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Paprika/Red Chili Powder
for 2-3 hours or more

Start Cooking

In a Pressure cooker or slow cooker warm Vegetable oil for cooking.

Temper the oil with whole spices
1 Bay leaves
2" thin stick Cinnamon
4 Cardamom
4 Cloves
1 Star Anise
1 petal Javetri

Once the spices start sizzling add the garlic and soon after add the onion slices.

Saute until onion turns soft and start browning. Now add the chopped tomatoes and saute until tomatoes are mushy and the raw smell is gone.

Now in goes the marinated mutton. Mix well with spices and saute the mutton until the mutton starts losing its raw color.

Add 1 Tbsp of the spice powder and the chopped apricots. Saute for the next 2-3 minutes until you get a beautiful aroma.

Now mix the ground almond powder with yogurt and add it to the meat. Add about 1/2 Cup of water and salt to taste, mix well scraping the sides of the cooker.
Bring the gravy to a simmer.

If you want some heat in this dish, add the chopped green chilies now and close the lid of the Pressure cooker.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5-6 whistles. In a Futura Pressure cooker, after full steam it takes almost 12-15 minutes to cook mutton.

Let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and taste the gravy. Add seasonings as needed.
Add a dash of vinegar and chopped coriander.
Simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Serve it with a pulao, rice or roti. This dish definitely tastes better the next day when the flavors get more time to seep in.

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