For me, cooking is not just putting things together and making them work, its more like a thought process which slowly shapes up a dish. Specifically, when it comes to cooking mutton, I prefer buying my own from the shops, picking up the cuts I like, cutting it in the way I like, and then cooking it the way I want to. I called this particular dish “Bhaja Moshlar Mangsho“, because I added a set of roasted spices when I was cooking the mutton, that is, the “bhaja moshla”. I cooked Bhaja Moshlar Mangsho for the first time when I was 18, and since then, it has been modified and tweaked till I found the combination which suited me best. This Indian mutton recipe starts with the creation of the “Bhaja Moshla“, which, in this case, includes fennel and coriander. I am not too fond of the flavour of fennel in general, but here, it works when its put together with the other spices.
For the Roasted Spices: Roast 1 teaspoon whole coriander, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon caraway (shahi jeera), and 1/4th of a nutmeg together for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then grind together with 6-7 dry red chillies and a few blades of mace (don’t go overboard, about 6-7 strands of mace is enough, roughly 1/4th teaspoon worth) into a fine powder.
For the Mutton: Marinate 1 kilo mutton with a bit of salt, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 3 tablespoons (roughly 50 ml.) yoghurt, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, and 1 teaspoon red chilli powder for at least 2 hours. I like using Kashmiri Chilli Powder at times when I want the dish to be extra red, but if you don’t have it, you can also use hot paprika or cayenne pepper, if you so choose. You can also add 2 tablespoons raw papaya paste which would act as tenderizer, but well, it is your call. I personally prefer the meat cooking for a bit more time.
Heat about 50 ml. of mustard oil (or you can use any good quality vegetable oil which has a high smoking point) till it is no longer raw but not smoking either, and then add 2-3 large bay leaves (tej pata), 5-6 whole red chillies, and a few slightly pounded peppercorn. Add 1 cup chopped purple onions, and a teaspoon of sugar, and fry over medium-low heat, till the onions are golden brown. Turn the heat up to high and add the marinated mutton. Stir-fry over high heat for 6-7 minutes, or until the meat is seared well. Add the powder, and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring every now and then.
Lower the temperature to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Open lid, stir, and if you feel there is not enough water to cook the meat, add 1/3rd of a cup of water, cover and cook. If you feel the water is evaporating too fast, try using a tight fitting lid and put the meat on the lowest gas setting. Ideally, I would cook the meat for 45 minutes, and then turn off the heat and let it rest for 4-5 hours, then come back and resume cooking, where, it takes another half an hour for the meat to be perfectly cooked. However, I know it is not the right solution, and if you are cooking it over low heat, 1-kilo meat would be done in about 1.5 hours’ time. Of course, you can also pressure cook this, but the meat would benefit from the low and slow cooking here. Once the meat is cooked, check seasonings, and serve with hot, steaming rice, fluffy rotis, or parathas.