Almost without fail, my little sister B, our three pet dogs- Gittu, Dooga and Miss Webby, and I used to hover around the kitchen on Sundays. That was the day when very early in the morning my parents would go out to the local bazaar and stock vegetables, chicken and fish for the week. But that was hardly the reason why we were bushy-tailed and starry-eyed! It was the anticipation of a lunch of Mangshow (Bengali for meat, reference here is to goat meat) and Mishti Pulao (sweet Bengali pulao) that would keep us vulnerably close to any blackmailing my Mum would resort to on Sundays.
Of course, our three canine loves would be rewarded with a big bone each packed with marrow that day, enough reason for them to park themselves at the entrance of my Mum’s kitchen and curl their noses up every time the whistle from the pressure cooker went off, while their mutton stew was cooking.
I do not fuss much (or experiment) when it comes to a traditional recipe by my Mum. And why should I, when I know its just perfect. Or maybe I am too old and entrenched to change.
500 gms of goat meat, cut into medium size pieces (I used the leg portion)
1 large onion finely sliced
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon green chili paste
2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon coriander powder
2-3 whole green cardamoms
2-3 whole black cardamoms
1 small stick of cinnamon
2-3 bay leaves
2 tablespoon mustard oil
2-3 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the whole garam masala (cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves), let them splutter for a few seconds. Add the sliced onions and fry for a few minutes. Let the onions turn into a nice brown color, but be watchful not to burn them. Add the pieces of meat and fry till they start turning brown. Add the ginger-garlic-chili paste. I usually grind them all together.
Set the heat on medium and keep stirring frequently. You can cover the pressure cooker with a lid and keep frying the meat and the spices. This Mangshow recipe is the labor of love and patience, don’t hurry up on it. It takes me usually an hour to cook the meat in its own moisture. Once the meat and the spices have released enough water and get a lovely brown color, I add salt and water. Enough water to eat with the pulao. Its only then that I pressure cook the meat for about 15-20 minutes depending on the tenderness of the meat. I asked my butcher for a baby goat which doesn’t take much time to cook.
Garnish with chopped coriander. You will not run out of ideas to serve this Mutton curry with. But if you do, what I did last night, you are surely going to be much loved.
Ingredients for Mishti Pulao:
2 cups Basmati rice (soaked in water and sieved)
Handful of cashew nuts
Handful of raisins
Half cup green peas
2 tablespoon desi ghee
1 teaspoon grated ginger (a frozen piece of ginger is just great to grate!)
Quarter teaspoon grated nutmeg
2-3 green and black cardamoms
1 small piece of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 tablespoon sugar
Heat the ghee in a pan, add the cardamoms, bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Next to add are the cashews and raisins. Let them get lightly browned on slow heat. Add the rice, and mix well with the spices. Add the turmeric, nutmeg, ginger and fry for a few minutes. The rice starts getting aromatic with the nutmeg and ginger. Add the green peas, salt and sugar. Fry for another 5-7 minutes till you see any moisture evaporated and the grains of the Basmati separated.
Transfer the rice in a glass/ microwave safe bowl. I make this pulao in the microwave using the regular ratio for rice and water. 2 cups of rice to 3 and three-fourth cups of water. I cook it for 20 minutes in the microwave covered with a cling film. A few drops of lemon juice makes the rice look like little pearls!
Let it stand for a few minutes before you serve. You can then pull up a chair and enjoy the Mishti Pulao and Mangshow with some salad. And believe me, this dinner for us was a resounding “Yay”. It borders on indulgence of a purely luxurious kind, especially if you are making it in the middle of the week!