I haven’t been able to post any recipes in the last few weeks because I spilled a smoothie on my MacBook, which contains a few weeks worth of recipes and photographs. Hence, this past weekend definitely called for documenting a new recipe. Over the weekend I was summoned to buy mutton meat. Naturally, I headed over to my favourite halal meat shop, where I knew my meat would be cut into chunks by request, saving potential wrist injuries and chopping time. I assumed there would just be one type of "mutton" on display and I'd be well on my way home. But in the glass casing, there was “mutton leg” and “mutton shoulder”. Now what? At this point I had to figure out which part to buy - I don't eat red meat, nor have I ever shopped for mutton meat before...hence, you can see why this might be a bit complicated for me. But after some enquiry, I was informed mutton leg contains more meat and would be best to make mutton curry with. So, mutton leg it is!
I brought the meat home and my mother did the leg work of creating this curry, which she deserves much credit for. I, for the most part observed, took notes and took photographs. I will have to replicate this on my own in the near future and I will taste the gravy, to ensure I’m not over or under-salting the dish. Take note though, that this curry doesn’t quite end up tasting like the traditional Jaffna Mutton Curry, but instead tastes like a fusion of both South Indian and Jaffna Mutton Curry - combining the best of both worlds. The final verdict was given by the special consumers it was made for; my sister and my friend Yalnee. They absolutely loved it and devoured it, raving how delicious it was.
- mutton leg meat - 0.5 kg chopped into small 1 cm pieces
- canola oil - 1.5 tablespoons
- cardamom - 2
- cinnamon stick - thumb size
- fennel seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
- ginger - 1 tablespoon minced
- black cloves - 3
- curry leaves and stems - 20 to 30
- lime leaf (optional) - 1 leaf
- green chillies - 2 medium finely chopped
- onion - 1 whole diced
- fenugreek - 1/2 teaspoon
- turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- garlic cloves - 4 crushed
- salt - approximately 1.5 teaspoons (taste test)
- jaffna curry powder - 4 teaspoons
- asafoetida powder (optional) - 1 pinch
- Tomato Concoction
- canola oil - 1 teaspoon
- ginger - 1 teaspoon minced
- fennel seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
- curry leaves - 8
- small tomatoes - 2 diced
- garlic - 1 clove
- salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Once you've purchased your meat, chop it into 1 to 2 cm chunks.
My struggle with cooking Sri Lankan/Tamil/Jaffna food is identifying the spices. If you're like me, the following sheet will help you identify the spices that you may already have at home, but have absolutely no idea what they are called.
Set a pot on medium heat and pour in 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil. Once the oil heats up, throw in 2 cardamoms, 3 cloves, a little stem of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of fennel seeds and 1 tablespoon of minced ginger. About 30 seconds later, add your 1 diced onion, 2 finely chopped green chillies, 20 crushed curry leaves (crush it in your palms before adding) and one lime leave (optional). Let sit and toss occasionally for a minute.
Now add ½ a teaspoon of fenugreek and 4 crushed garlic cloves.
A minute later, add your meat (take note of the time you add your meat) and sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder. Let sit for about 3 minutes, then start tossing occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt (keep taste testing to see if your desired amount of salt has been incorporated). Sprinkle 3 teaspoons of curry powder (again, this depends on your desired spice level and the brand of curry powder you use), and a pinch of asafoetica powder (helps digestion) and cover the pot tightly with a lid (do not stir in the curry powder).
**From this point onwards you will always keep the lid on until you complete the curry.
Another 5 minutes later, check if the steam from the mutton is leaving a gravy at the base of the pot. If not, add ¼ cup of hot water (add a bit more if you like your curry to be more gravy based). Let another 5 minutes pass and now stir the curry contents. Do another taste test and add more salt if necessary (in my case, another ½ teaspoon of salt was required). Monitor your curry every 5 minutes to see if there is any gravy and to ensure the curry isn’t burning to the base of the pot (all in all, you will need about 30 minutes from the starting time your mutton meat was added to the pot, until the time it completes cooking).
While the meat cooks, create this tomato concoction separately to add into the curry.
Place a sauce pan on medium heat, and add 1 teaspoon of canola oil. Once the oil warms up, add 1 teaspoon of ginger, ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds and 8 crushed curry leaves. After a minute, add 2 small diced tomatoes and stir. Add 1 cup of hot water along with ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 clove of garlic. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in blender.
Crush another 8 curry leaves, add it to your curry and remove the pot from the heat.