My childhood is dotted with happy food memories from across the country,but one particular food memory that came from across the border holds a very very special place in my heart. When I was very little we had a wonderful Punjabi family right next door-The Mehtas. Mehta Uncle and Aunty grew up in Sind and migrated to India during the partition…atop a train. I guess if I look close enough I will actually spot them in those pictures in Khushwant Singh’s partition saga- ‘Train to Pakistan’!
When I entered their lives 48 years later, Sind for them was a very distant memory. While their roots were well grounded in Hindustan, Sind was where their heart belonged. In me they found an ardent listener of their past- their childhood, their youth, their marriage and of course the wonderful food.
While I was blown away with Uncle’s flair of cross border story telling, my mother would observe Mehta aunty in the kitchen as she spun her magic. Her cooking followed very simple traditional techniques and all her creations were laced with love. I still vividly remember those piping hot Milton casseroles that arrived at our doorstep. My mother learnt a lot of cooking from her and diligently noted down all her recipes in a journal. Thank God for that!
Today on Chatore Diaries, as I scan through that journal, I relive Mehta Aunty’s memories with her signature dish from Sind- Bhuna Ghosht! Here is my humble attempt to recreate Mehta Aunty’s magic.
- 500 grams boneless mutton
- 3 pods green cardamom
- 1 pod black cardamom
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 large onions, sliced thin
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 (1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- salt, to taste
- 2 tomatoes, pureed
- 2 tablespoons water
- 5-6 green chillies finely chopped
- A handful of fresh coriander
- Heat some oil in large kadhai.
- Once the oil is hot enough, pop in the green and black cardamom pods,the bay leaves and the cinnamon. Fry till a wonderful aroma fills your kitchen. However, be careful not to burn any of these whole spices.
- The onions, ginger and garlic go in next. Sauté the mixture till the onions are browned evenly. Golden brown is the colour we are aiming for.
- Once the perfect brown is achieved, add the red chilli powder, turmeric and the cumin. Give this mixture a good mix.
- The puréed tomatoes go in next. Work your ladle through this mixture and fry very well till the oil separates to the sides of the pan.
- Toss in your mutton next along with the finely chopped green chillies and some fresh coriander.
- Fry the mutton very well in the masala, till all of it is very well coated
The trick in this dish is that the mutton should cook in its own juices,so traditionally very less water is added.
- Once the mutton pieces are well coated with the masala, add some water just enough to douse all of the mutton, but be sure not to add too much.
- Cover the kadhai and let the mutton simmer away. This very authentic method takes around an hour and a half till the meat is well done.
- Once the meat has been cooked through,uncover your kadhai and let the gravy thicken.
- Garnish with some freshly chopped coriander leaves.
Serve hot with parathas, phulkas or naans! Enjoy!!!