One of my favourite childhood memories include my mother, sunday lunches with my cousin brothers and sisters, old bengali film records played on the gramophone and the smell of bengali garam masala(a special spice blend) in every nook and corner of the house. Sundays when I was a kid used to be grand affairs at home. A huge sumptuous lunch of Uchchey Bhaja(fried bitter gourds), Dal, Alu Posto(potato in poppy seed paste), Mutton Curry and Chutney(mostly tomato) followed by a forceful afternoon siesta by the elders and the eager anticipation for the old bengali Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen films shown on Doordarshan.
Anyway, going back to the mutton curry now, the best part was the eagerness we had to be the first taster and often we had to fight among ourselves to be the privileged one. The worst part being chosen as the little helper by my mother to peel the onions when the maid did not turn up or ''forgot'' to do it before leaving which happened frequently! But at the end the pain and hard work did pay off in the form of half a fried potato kept aside for the curry. The kitchen used to be a mess with vegetable peels kept in piles, freshly ground spices kept in bowls , large bowls full of sliced onions and tomatoes and amidst all this mess stood my Ma in her sweat damped saree which I loved to dig my face into.
Finally the clock struck 2pm and by God's grace if everybody managed to shower, be presentable at the table and some of us still did not faint after smelling the heavenly fragrance all morning, we got what we waited to eagerly all morning...my mom's mutton curry! And no Michelin Star restaurant or even Golbari (famous for the named curry) can ever come close to that heavenly taste! One of my biggest regrets in life is I never got a chance to learn cooking from my mother. Through many experiments I've finally managed to get a flavour and taste like her curry in mine. Though when I made it for my Chhotomama(mom's youngest brother) he complained ''Chhordi-r moton hoini kintu khub bhalo hoyechhey''(not like my sister's curry but still very good). I guess I'll have to live with that. :)
Sunday Treat - PNathar Jhol (Mutton Curry)
Goat Meat - 1 kg
White Potatoes - 2-3 large halved
Onion Paste - Made of 3 large onions or 4 medium ones
Ginger Paste - 2 tsp
Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
Skinned plum tomatoes - 2 medium (I use the canned ones)
Yogurt - 3-4tbsp
Mustard Oil - 1tsp
Vegetable/Sunflower Oil accordinly
Bay Leaves - 2
Make a paste with the following ingredients :
Tamarind Paste - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 2tsp
MDH Meat Masala (Optional) - 2tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder - 1tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1tsp
2-3 tsp water
Dry roast and grind the following to make the perfect Bengali Garam Masala :
3-4 Green Cardamoms
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
Marinate the meat with the yogurt and mustard oil and keep refrigerated for a few hours, preferably overnight.
Heat cooking oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I use pressure cooker). Fry the potatoes and keep aside. Add the bay leaves and saute for a few seconds. Add the onion paste and fry well till golden in colour. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and mix well. Cook on moderately high flame till the masala is cooked well and the raw smell is gone.
At this point add the tomatoes and cook till they are soft. In the meantime boil some water separately and make the wet masala paste.
Once the tomatoes are cooked well and oil separates add the masala paste and cook on medium flame for sometime. Add splashes of hot water so that it doesn't burn. Now add the marinated meat to the masala and cover the meat pieces with the masala.
Now comes the tedious but main task of mixing and cooking on moderately high flame. This procedure is called ''Koshano''(that's where the name Kosha Mangsho is derived from). You have to do this thing for atleast 30 minutes to get rid of the raw smell of meat and the flavours of the spices in.
Add hot water (this has to be done since this is a ''Jhol''-spicy stew). If you are cooking in a pan/kadhai then add the potatoes near to the time when the meat is almost done. If you are cooking in a pressure cooker then put everything in and cook till 6-7 whistles (or according to your pressure cooker's guidelines).
Once the meat is tender sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the dry Garam Masala powder. Serve it with plain white rice and onions, lime and green chillies on the side. It also goes well with Luchi/Puri (deep fried puffed Indian bread).