Friday, March 13, 2009

Mutton – No Pressure.

I am suspecting this one was “invented” by dad in one of his not too willing to be involved moments. Maybe a game was on or maybe he was propounding solutions to the Kashmir problem, bottom line is he wasn’t at a place where he wanted to be in front of the flames on a constant basis.

The other thing about dad is that he doesn’t believe mutton should be cooked in a pressure cooker. We have been brought up to believe that mutton cooked in a pressure cooker is as bad as potatoes. Now, don’t get me wrong - I LIKE potatoes, but who’d want their mutton masquerading as potatoes? Over time and marriage I have seen that all mutton in pressure cooker isn’t necessarily potato, but the beliefs of your formative years have a habit of staying put. And by now I have sufficiently elucidated the title so let’s jump into the making of Mutton – No Pressure.

Well, you begin by chopping mounds of onions. Or you request Sushi to chop ‘em for you if you get all tearful killing zem. Thus -

Then you prep a kadhai by heating it a bit over the stove. In oven terms, this would be called "pre-heating". After the kadhai is pre-heated enough, we add a bit, make that a fair bit of mustard oil and let it get all hot and bothered too. Finally, you dump in the chopped onions and mutton , put the lid on it and there ends your involvement for the next hour and quarter.Before I forget, the flame doesn't need to burn too bright, keep it on "low".

During this time you are free to propound solutions to the Kashmir problem, bug Sushi over his lamentable tendency to hog the computer for playing games and hogging it yourself to complete this blog. This may also be a good time to discover that you are out of g-g paste, a very vital ingredient, without which mutton isn't just potato, it's french beans! One of us, I won't say which, left the comfort of the home and hearth to correct the omissions of the morning shopping expedition.

G-G paste? That's "ginger- garlic" paste. It is also known as "g(squared) paste" or "paste 2G" in different parts of the world.

Being the responsible adult that I am, I went to check on the concoction in the kadhai midway through my self-imposed exile from the kitchen...and....wooooahhhh....wasn't what I had expected!

See that, all that water in there? I believe that's cause of the onions and maybe the mutton too. After all 3/4th of the body IS water! And the reason it's yellow is nothing very gross..naah that's just the mustard oil mixing with water. As my shocked senses returned to normal, I realized that "cooking in its own juices" is the technical term used to describe this phenomenon. I covered it again and did another "Eureka" - for the principle isn't very different from pressure cooker. The meat was cooking in steam, just, probably not as drastically fast to potato it.

As the hour approaches, or rather, as the hour and quarter approaches, one needs to get the masala ready. In an altogether different kadhai or sauce pan, take some more mustard oil, to which you add some red chili, the hard won g-g paste, jeera powder, and just about anything that catches your fancy. I'd recommend some black pepper and salt and curd to get a sour tang. Anything goes, but tomatoes, which unless you are Punjabi or Italian is absolutely inexcusable. And that, is another of my daddy's sayings. And I, abide by it. Well, then you cook the masala.

A good indication of the cook-ed-ness of masala is when it starts to separate from the oil that held it. That is when you drop everything (figuratively speaking only) and mix it in with the mutton. By this time, the mutton should have soaked up it's juices and the onion should have become indistinguishable from the mutton. So, as you can see, a lot of careful co-ordination and syncing is required. Timing - would make or break this recipe.

If everything goes well, you have on the one hand, mutton which is tender and dry. On the other hand, you have masala that is separated from the oil it was brewed in. And when the twain did meet - here's what you get.

You may add a bit o' water and let - simmer if you like curry. Personally, I prefer things dry to bring out the pungent flavour of the mustard oil. Happy eating - No pressure!