Sarodiya Subhechha to all my Bengali readers and Happy Navratri to those who are celebrating it.
This space was silent for more than a week because of our re location to India. Frequent relocations are not good, I tell you, but it feels good to be back home again. In todays global world, however the word “home” has transgressed many boundaries though !
With a messy household and cluttered kitchen, my Durga pujo this year is far from anything that you would have dreamt of. No shopping, no pandal hopping, no chomping on the sumptuous Bengali fare at restaurants. Sigh !!! Very colorless , lack lustre but I wont crib about it.
Instead lets talk about todays special recipe, close to my heart, weaved with so many fond memories of yesteryear. Mutton do pyaaza – the way my Baba (Dad) used to cook. Sounds genuinely appetizing with extra supplement of onions used lavishly in the dish. Whoever coined the term “do pyaza” first, has invoked lots of arguments among the food connoisseurs. One school of thought holds that it uses two onions, hence “do pyaza“, the other with whom I has certain affinity holds that onion is used in two stages while cooking, hence “do pyaaza“.
Here is a snippet from the book “Curry in the Crown: The Story of Britain’s Favourite Dish written by Shrabani Basu. … where an English traveller in seventeenth century took fancy of mutton do pyaza and wrote – “Among many dishes of this kind, I will take notice of one they call deu pario (do pyaza), made of venison cut into slices, to which they put onions, herbs and some roots, with little spice and butter : the most savory meat I have ever tasted … “
I never had the opportunity to ask my Baba, why he has used onions in two stages, I was never interested to know the finer details of cooking, that was me in some other timescale. Now when I try to recollect those days, all I could find few sketchy memories of a small sigri (a kind of hearth) tucked in a corner in a smoky courtyard, just beneath that lone mango tree, an aluminium dekchi half filled with freshly cut goat meat, a huge thala (large plate) with sliced onions, few cloves, cinnamon, couple of bay leaves, few cardamom and few red chillies soaked in water.
Meat was never marinated for this recipe, just smeared enough with mustard oil, salt and turmeric. Half of the onions will be slowly caramelised first , then followed by meat pieces, spices and will be braised slowly on a charcoal heat. Water was never added, he believed it dilute the taste. The meat used to be so tender and fresh that it released enough juices to cook the meat in that liquid. The hot coals lends a nice smoky aroma to the dish and house was filled with heavenly flavor. Mutton do pyaaza was then devoured with hot plain parathas and sirke wali pyaaz / vinegary pearl onions on side. Smoky, rustic and bold.
- Mutton / goat / lamb : 2 lb / 1 kg
- Red onions : 3 large
- Garlic : 1
- Ginger : 2 tbsp (minced)
- Red chillies : 4-5 (depending upon your preference)
- Cloves : 8-10
- Black cardamom : 2-3
- Cinnamon : 1 stick
- Salt to taste
- Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
- Cumin powder : 2tsp
- Mustard oil : 2-3 tbsp
- Wash the meat pieces well and rub it with salt, turmeric powder and one teaspoon of mustard oil. Cover it and keep aside for 15 minutes.
- Finely chopped one large onions, minced the cloves of garlic and soak the red chillies in water for 20 minutes.
- Lightly roast the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Grind them to a fine powder.
- Grind the red chillies to a fine paste.
- In a deep bottom vessel, heat the mustard oil till it reaches its smoking point.
- Add the finely chopped onion, saute for a while till it becomes translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, continue saute on medium heat.
- Add red chilli paste and ground spice mix, fry for couple of minutes and add the meat pieces.
- Braise the meat on high heat, till the rawness disappear.
- Continue braising the meat on medium heat for around 10 minutes till it releases some water.
- Add cumin powder and continue braising the meat on low heat now till the oil comes out.
- This will take some time.
- Meanwhile finely sliced two other large onions and in a separate non stick pan, caramelise the onion. A tiny pinch of sugar and salt helps to get nice caramelised color and also quicken the process.
- Once braising is done, add enough hot water just to cover the meat pieces.
- Cover and let it simmer for half an hour or more till the meat is tender.
- Check the seasonings, stir in the caramelised onions and serve hot.
- Mutton do pyaaza goes well with paratha or roti.
I cook mutton in big dekchi or deep bottom vessel. I never pressure cook the mutton.
If the meat is tender enough and release enough juices, then no need to add water. Or adjust the amount of water accordingly. However, I do not prefer to add water.
Large onions means really large (US standard) , so adjust the amount of onion accordingly.
I have used pearl onion for garnish, and has chopped few of them and add it to the dish. This is optional.
I do not cook mutton with tomatoes. So that is no typo or error.
This mutton do pyaaza recipe is unassuming simple, yet bold with full of rustic charm and smoky flavours. No tomatoes, no curds and no marination is required for this dish. Simple, yet beautiful and best enjoyed with roti or plain parathas.
Enjoy the festive days