So I have posted a recipe of Chicken Tehri on my blog ages ago, but I have to admit: the one dish which I was craving for a while was a well-made Bangladeshi style Mutton Tehari. I say Tehari, because that’s how I first heard it being pronounced in this video. The original recipe called for beef, and I admit that I have made it with Beef, but to be honest, the version made with Mutton was better, and after making it several times more, now I have realized why. Its the fat I tend to add to the mutton version. Lean beef just doesn’t cut it. Although there are many recipes of Mutton or Beef Tehari available online, but the reason why I like mine is because its got a lovely blend spices in it, and is not difficult to assemble and cook. This recipe can be done very quickly if the meat is marinated beforehand and then pressure cooked. I would recommend marinating the meat overnight though, but if you cannot do that, its fine.
My version of Mutton Tehari begins with 1 kilo good quality meat. I recommend using the foreleg or ribs from a slightly older goat – the meat should have some fat attached to it – not a lot, mind you, just enough to flavour the rice – roughly 60-100 gm. fat per kilo is good. Ideally, you should make the meat boneless, but if that isn’t an option, try getting fewer pieces of bones in the meat, and tell your butcher to cut the meat into smaller pieces – roughly 1 inch cubes should be good. My butcher was being particularly generous on the day I made this and made the pieces bigger, but the ideal cut for this recipe is slightly smaller than this – the ‘boti’ (Thank you N for pointing it out, btw, otherwise I would have completely forgotten adding this little titbit).
Marinate the meat in 1 tablespoon ginger paste, 1/2 tablespoon garlic paste, 1/2 tablespoon green chilli paste, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and mace powder (take 1 whole nutmeg and 1 inch blade of mace and grind them together. You will need this entire quantity for the amount of Tehari I am making here), 1 tablespoon coriander powder, 1 stick cinnamon, 4 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons mustard oil, salt to taste, and 200 gm. plain yogurt. Keep this aside for at least 2 hours.
Heat a pan and put the marinated meat in it. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat till the meat is soft and the water is mostly dry – about 45-50 minutes. Alternately, you can sear the meat quickly in a pressure cooker, then cover the cooker, let it build up full pressure, then simmer for 10 minutes and then gently take it off the gas. The meat should be mostly cooked and watery, sear it, stirring, over medium heat till it is mostly dry.
Heat 2 tablespoon mustard oil and when the oil is hot, add 4 whole green cardamom pods, 2 bay leaves, and 2 sticks of cinnamon. Stir gently and add 1/2 cup onion paste, 1 tablepoon ginger paste, and mix well till the onion paste is soft and golden. Add 500 gm. washed and drained Basmati rice and stir it in well. At this point, you can season with salt, but I am not really the girl who takes chances, so I leave the salting bit for a bit later. Pour in water – the ratio is 1:2 and so add 2 cups of water per cup of rice. Let the water come to a boil, and then cook for 10 minutes, covered, or till the rice is 75% done.
Here, contemplate adding potatoes. Of course, that’s not what you generally add to Tehari, but I like adding potatoes, cut in half and fried golden, to my rice, so you can add them now. Also, add the meat, stir well, taste, and add salt. Add another teaspoon of nutmeg-mace powder and I love adding 1 tablespoon cashew or poppy seed paste, but you can skip that if you don’t have it.
This is where you will need a slightly tight fitting lid for your vessel – I generally use a nonstick pot for making the rice. Here, after mixing in the meat, then you will have to place about 20 whole green chillies on top (Yes, 20!), which you should not break, no matter what. Just put them in, along with a tablespoon of ghee on top, and let them cook with the rice, meat, and potatoes. Cover, and cook for 15 minutes over really low heat. Alternately, you can stick the Tehari in a 160 degree centigrade oven for 20 minutes, covered. You can decorate with fried onions, but I don’t generally bother. The dish is great for a lazy afternoon when you basically want something fancy, but not too heavy either.