Patha'r mangsher jhol, or Bengali mutton curry, is a classic Bengali mutton dish. On Sundays, walk around any Bengali neighbourhood in Calcutta, and you will hear whistles of pressure cookers going off, as the smell of mutton curry fills the air. In this recipe, we've used another slightly more time-consuming method of cooking mutton, not in a pressure cooker, but in a covered kadai over a longer period of time. This method gives the cook more control over how far to cook the mutton, so that it is neither too soft nor too chewy. Additionally, it yields a jhol (sauce) with more body. This is because the process of conversion of collagen (present in the connective tissue of meat) into gelatin requires time. There is no way to hasten this process. Cooking the meat for about two hours creates more gelatin, which leads to a more viscous sauce that coats the mouth while eating.
However, if you ever run out of patience and time, or in the interest of economy, you can just as easily finish cooking the mutton in a pressure cooker. Our recipe covers both processes, and lets you choose the one that suits you the best. As for us, we use both methods on different days, depending on our enthusiasm or the time we have on hand.
- 1 kg mutton
- 300 g potatoes
- 60 g mustard oil
- 4 pcs dried red chillies
- 6 pcs bay leaves
- 6 pcs cardamom
- 6 pcs cloves
- 2 pcs cinnamon
- 400 g onions
- 15 g garlic
- 40 g ginger
- 100 g yoghurt
- 15 g green chillies
- 10 g turmeric powder
- 4 g red chilli powder
- 6 g kashmiri red chilli powder
- 3 g coriander powder
- 26 g salt
- 10 g sugar
- ½ tsp gorom moshla
- 2 L water (if cooking in the kadai); 500 g (if using a pressure cooker)
- Slice onions thinly. Sliced onions, as opposed to ground or puréed onions, add texture to the curry.
- Cut potatoes into 5-cm chunks.
- Make a paste of ginger and garlic using a mortal and pestle. Separately, make a paste of green chillies too.
- Heat mustard oil in a kadai. Let it smoke gently and turn pale yellow. Temper with dried red chillies, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Add sliced onions, along with sugar to help caramelise the onions. Fry on medium heat for around 15 minutes.
- Tilt the kadai slightly, to allow the oil to pool on one side. Add kashmiri red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and red chilli powder directly to this oil. Fry for 20 seconds. This will help the curry acquire a rich colour.
- Add ginger and garlic paste. Fry on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Lower the heat and add beaten yoghurt. Cook on low heat for another 3 minutes.
- Add the green chilli paste, coriander powder, and salt. Keep frying until oil separates.
- Once oil separates and the onions are a rich brown colour, add the mutton pieces. Sauté on medium heat for 15 minutes.
- At this point you have two options: (a) You can either continue cooking in the same kadai for a thicker, more full-bodied curry, or (b) transfer everything to a pressure cooker to speed up the process (this will still produce an extremely tasty, tender and hearty curry).
- For the kadai, add 1.8 to 2 L water, cover, and let it simmer until the meat is cooked. Stir every 15 minutes. It should take about 2 hours, depending on the mutton.
- Add potatoes to the curry, when around 30 to 40 minutes remain. When both the meat and potatoes are done, finish with a pinch of gorom moshla.
- To pressure cook, transfer everything to a pressure cooker along with potatoes. Add 500 g water and pressure cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until done.
- If your curry is too thin, remove the pressure cooker lid and cook off the extra liquid on high heat. Finish with a pinch of gorom moshla.