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Friday, March 28, 2014

Mansa Jholo / Mutton Curry (Traditional/Old Method)

Imagine a village situated on the foothills of a densely forested mountain. Along the dusty winding path that goes up the mountain, one can spot butterflies flitting from flower to flower. If one is lucky, then they can spot a rabbit/deer hiding somewhere in the bushes. With the entire forest blossoming during the spring-summer season, the scent of this place is intoxicating. And the view from the top simply exhilarating. The lush green fields that lie in the bottom of the forest have now turned yellow/brown. Most of the crops have been harvested and people are waiting for the rains to sow another lot. An almost dry river with small pools of water and lots of exposed sand flows near the village.

In the center of the village, elders sit around a 'Baula' tree on a raised chaupal. They are discussing about the wild elephants that ransacked the crops during last winter. Someone chips in and says something about a 'Heta bagha' or wolf who stole a hen/lamb last night. People discuss all sort of problems and try to fix a match at the same time. Nothing interesting enough for a ten year old.

Moving on the 'Khanja', a row/block to houses build in such a manner that they seem to be a single entity. They house the members of a erstwhile 'zamindar' household, its a huge joint family. A big 'agana' or courtyard where the ladies of the house have gathered after finishing their daily chores. They are busy oiling and combing each others hair. Someone opens a 'paan-daani' and offers a betel leaf ( its only a betel leaf with a little 'chuna'(pickling lime or food grade lime) brushed onto it...not a proper paan) to everyone. For the more seasoned folks, there is 'Gudakhu', a type of tobacco on offer. Big vessels known as 'Handas' lie abandoned in a corner. Sometime not too long back, all these ladies used to cook together in a single kitchen that fed about 50-60 members spanning multiple generations. The curious ten year old fiddles with these vessels, raises some funny questions and listens to these ladies for an answer. One particularly alert lady catches the youngster biting into yet another 'ambula' and shakes her head. 'Peta katiba', she says yet again. Not enough to deter a youngster on a summer visit to her village with her grandmother.

Fast forward 20 years. A posh apartment in Bangalore. A nuclear family. A wave of nostalgia grips the now grown-up youngster as she reminiscences about those long forgotten carefree days. Her grandmother is no more but those memories must live on.

Read on for the recipe:

Preparation Time - 1 hour 20 mins

Ingredients -

250 gm mutton
1 medium sized potato
1 large onion + 1/2 of a medium onion ( the chopped onion should be equal in volume to the mutton pieces )
1 1/2 tbsp coarse garlic paste
1 1/2 tbsp coarsely chopped ginger
3-4 dry red chillis
1 big cardamom
1 bay leaf
2 2" cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
6 tsp mustard oil + 1 tsp for the marination

Preparation - Wash the mutton pieces and drain away all the water. Add salt, turmeric and 1 tsp mustard oil. Mix well and keep aside.

Cut the onions into medium sized pieces. Crush lightly using a mortar and pestle. Keep aside.

Also crush the ginger and garlic in the same way but just a little more fine.

Cut the potatoes into big chunks.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a pressure cooker.

Add the potatoes and fry till golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Add the red chillis followed by the cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks to the hot oil. Fry till they turn fragrant.

Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Fry them on low flame till they turn quite red in color. (This is a sign that the onions have started turning sweet due to the caramelization process)

Next add the mutton pieces. Fry them till they stop oozing water. You do not have to stir continuously. Keep the lid on the cooker without completely closing it. Stir once every few minutes. This process takes a long time so keep patience ( grab a snack/drink something if all that heavenly smell is making you hungry ).

Once you see that the mutton pieces start leaving oil ( a sure sign that the water had dried up ), add 1 1/2 - 2 cups of boiling water along with the fried potato pieces. Adjust salt. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 whistles. Remove from flame.

Allow steam to escape before opening lid. Check if the mutton is done. Else add another half cup water and cook for another 1-2 whistles.

Serve hot with rice/rotis.

Note - If you do not want to use pressure cooker, use a thick bottomed copper vessel for best results. Also add a few pieces of raw papaya to expedite the cooking process.


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  6. Hello. I have fallen in love with your blog in a ridiculously short spAn of time. ( Read : 60 minutes at best). I am a parochial Bangalee, in Bangalore, married to a not-so-pig headed Oriya man from Berhampore ( Gajapati Ganjam Dist.) Therefore, it should be of no surprise to you that my first dish prepared from your blog is the Dahi-Vada-Alu-Dum-Ghughni. :) Thank you. I am going to walk with my head held high (and some invisible chips on my shoulder) when I visit my "shoshur barri" in winter, as I rattle the names and ingredients of the Oriya dishes of the most esoteric kinds. I am Bidisha and I will be making bouto-arru bhojja and dalma tomorrow. The sweet pumkin flower s are from my terrace pot. Thank you, again.

    1. Wow !! That's really nice to know :). Ofcourse you are most welcome and do feel free to ask me if you ever have any doubts about Odia cuisine. My FB page is https://www.facebook.com/authenticoriyafood/ .You can leave me a msg anytime....


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