Mutton Kaliya or Mutton Kalia

Technically, there isn’t much difference between mutton cooked to make Kawsha/Kalia in my house. In fact, my grandmother would traditionally make one with more onions and gravy and called it Kaliya and with less onions and gravy, and more yogurt, to make Kasha. I asked her once why these recipes were so interchangeable, and she retorted that if I did not like it, then I could always change it.

Alas! Changes don’t come easily in the Banerjee Household. My father held his ground – make it Ma’s way or else! My mother was even more stubborn – “if it ain’t done our way, I won’t let you cook it!” What to do! But I still made it my way.

Resistance crumbled after the first bite.


mutton kaliya

I asked a few friends and family members about the Kalia – most of them got back with .. of all things … fish kalia, and well, even more excellent, enchorer kalia (for those who are not Bengali-savvy, enchor is essentially unripe Jackfruit, of all things!), and I realized it was time to revolutionize the recipe of the house.

This recipe is slightly on the sweeter side, thanks to the presence of onions and a bit of sugar, but it is one of the best ways of eating mutton, I daresay, according to me. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth chunks of meat, that is beautifully accompanied by plain rice or thin rotis, perfect for scooping up some of the gravy which my father declared as delicious.

Here’s what you do.

mutton kaliya

Marinate a kilo of mutton shanks, cut in medium pieces and with a good bit of fat on them, in 1/4th cup onion paste, 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, and 1/2 cup plain yogurt, along with a hefty pinch of salt. Let rest for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

In a heavy-bottomed vessel, heat 2 tablespoon Mustard Oil (you can substitute this with refined oil or ghee, it really doesn’t matter, because your actual flavors will come from the mutton which I will introduce to it very soon. Once the oil is hot, add 1 star anise, a long stick of cinnamon and 2 dry red chillies.

Let this cook for 10 seconds or so. Then add 300 gm. chopped red onions and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Cook this over medium-high flame till the onions are well-fried. Add to that the mutton, and cook over high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, till the yogurt dries off and the meat clings to the bottom of the vessel.

At this point, add a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a teaspoon of coriander powder, a teaspoon of red chilli powder (or Kashmiri chilli powder or smoked paprika for a fabulous flavor boost), a teaspoon of garam masala powder (or grind together whole cinnamon, cloves, whole peppercorn, mace, nutmeg, and green cardamom).

Stir fry till the meat is dark, and then add 100 ml. yogurt. Cook over high heat till the yogurt dries up. Add a bit of salt at this point, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer till the meat is soft, about 1 hour, (or pressure cook the meat till it is soft, simmer for about 10-15 minutes after the first whistle, and then only open the pressure cooker after the pressure cooker cools down under its own steam).

Once done, adjust salt, add more sugar if you like your meat sweeter, and serve hot with rice.

mutton kaliya
Written by Poorna Banerjee

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