There are some days when a spicy curry seems absolutely essential to a good meal. Mutton or goat is the preferred meat of choice throughout India and depending on the region, there are many signature dishes. One such recipe comes from Rajasthan, the land of deserts, palaces, mystique and spicy food.
As the name signifies, laal maas (laal-red, maas-meat) is a spicy red meat curry prepared with a hot chili paste, yogurt (thick curd) and a few other ingredients. For something that tastes exceptionally good, the ingredients and technique is actually pretty simple.
Make sure you use tender cuts of bone-in mutton pieces (lamb is typically not used in such hearty dishes). Traditionally, both mustard oil and ghee are used in generous amounts, but feel free to use any neutral oil if you do not generally cook with mustard oil. Mathania chilies, an indigenous variety of chili is used to give a slow, smoky heat to this recipe. If you cannot find them, feel free to use any good-quality red chili powder. But one thing you must never add in a typical laal maas curry are tomatoes. Fresh, thick yogurt is what gives the curry a slight tang and the signature glossy red sauce.
Though the recipe is fairly straight-forward, this is by no means a lackluster dish. This has all the markings of a delicious dish worthy of company. Gather around like-minded spice lovers and while this slowly simmers away on the stove-top, cook up some fluffy rotis, white rice or thick naan breads in anticipation of soaking up the flavorful red gravy.
One can always adjust the quantity of red chili powder to suit their particular tastes, because contrary to popular belief, the laal maas does not need to be a bright crimson color. When you cook the meat with chilies, garlic, yogurt and spices, you are sure to end up with a finger-licking delicious mutton curry.
- Mutton - 2 lbs, bone-in and cut into small pieces
- Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
- Red chili powder - 1 tsp
- Coriander powder - ½ tsp
- Oil - 3 tbsp
- Bay leaves - 3
- Cinnamon stick - 1" piece
- Cloves - 4-5
- Cardamom pods - 3
- Onion - 2, finely chopped
- Ginger-garlic paste - 1½ tbsp (made from a thick piece of ginger and 8-10 cloves of garlic)
- Marinated mutton - 2 lbs
- Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
- Red chili powder - 1 tbsp
- Garlic - 6 large cloves, finely minced
- Yogurt - 1 cup, lightly whipped
- Ghee - 2 tbsp
- Water - 2 cups
- Salt - to taste
- Cilantro leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
- Marinate the mutton pieces with marinade ingredients and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large, thick-bottomed pan (use a pressure cooker or other large pot that can be covered). Add bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and allow them to crackle and become fragrant.
- Add onions and saute till lightly browned. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute for a few more minutes till nicely fragrant.
- Add marinated mutton and saute for 5 minutes to lightly sear the meat.
- Reduce heat and add turmeric powder, red chili powder, garlic and yogurt. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Then add ghee, water and salt to taste. Mix well, cover and cook till meat is tender and sauce is reduced to your liking, maybe 45-60 minutes. Check once in a while to see if there is sufficient water to cook the meat. To save time, you can pressure cook for two whistles, allow the pressure to be released naturally before opening the lid, and then reduce the sauce further on medium-high heat.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve mutton curry hot with rice, rotis or other bread and a cooling yogurt raita on the side.
And, there you have it, a deliciously spicy mutton curry made with a few choice ingredients!
Serve this curry with soft phulka rotis, steamed white rice or crusty breads as per your preference. Add a side of cooling yogurt raita to tame the heat.
So, have you heard of laal maas mutton curry? Do try this easy recipe the next time you want something special.
Take a look at another mutton recipe from the other end of the country, a one-pot Tamil Nadu style Mutton Biryani.
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