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Bombay mutton curry

I spent 10 years in Mumbai finishing school and in college and during this time, Bombay curry was a staple at my Aunt's house, feasted on every Sunday. By 4 PM the cook would start to stew the curry and the house would fill with the aroma, I knew dinner was going to be a treat.

This is a classic curry, one that is specific to the melting pot that is Mumbai. it is influenced by the curries of the muslim Bohri community, the Parsi community and the use of local Maharastrian ingredients like coconut milk and dried kokum fruit for tartness. This version also has us roasting the spices for the curry, this step brings out the deep flavors by releasing the essential oils from the spices, and gives us a darker but much superior curry. It is a lovely decadent curry, loads of flavors that meld together, spicy, tart and deep spices cling to tender meat and soft potatoes. Served with rice, you really do not need anything else.

Finally, I cook this curry in the traditional style, slowly braising it on the stove. Today, we see a lot of chefs and home cooks fast cooking in pressure cookers, but this curry specifically needs the time for the flavors to be extracted, concentrated and come together.

This is a wonderful cookbook that highlights Parsi cuisine and recipes from Mumbai. It is packed with traditional recipes from the community, with a short narratives about the history, dish or culture. It tends to favor the Bombay (Mumbai) style dishes that are famous, as well as, some of home recipes from the authors family kitchen. It is a wonderful specialized cookbook.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


1 1/2 bone-in mutton, can also substitute lamb, or chicken

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1 tablespoon garlic paste

For the masala paste:

8-10 dried red chilies

1 tablespoon roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon split chana dal

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken up

6 cloves

10 peppercorns

1/2 cup fresh grated coconut, frozen ok

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

6 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon ginger paste

2 large onions, finely sliced

15-20 curry leaves

1 can coconut milk

Salt, to taste

8-10 pieces dried kokum fruit

Water, as needed

3-4 potatoes, peeled and diced into large chunks

Cilantro, minced, for garnish

Marinate the meat in the ginger and garlic paste for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.

Meanwhile make the spice paste. Individually roast the spices, dried red chilies, peanuts, chana dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, poppy seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns and the grated coconut until each smells aromatic and has turned a shade darker. Roast the coconut till deeply colored but do not burn.

Grind the dried red chilies, peanuts, chana dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, poppy seeds, cinnamon stic, cloves, and peppercorns in a coffee grinder till very fine. Mix the fine powder to the roasted coconut, turmeric, garlic and ginger and purée in a small blender to a fine paste with minimal amount of water to form a thick paste. You will need to purée for sometime to get the coconut to be very smooth. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté the onion and curry leaves till the onions are a deep brown color. Add the marinated meat and cook on high heat to sear the meat. If you do not use a high heat, the meat will give out water and it will begin to stew before it sears. When the meat looks like it has cooked on the outside, add the spice paste and cook on medium heat till all the water has evaporated and the paste begins to take on a deep color. Be careful as the paste tends to stick to the bottom of the pan, work it off with a wooden spatula to stop the spices from burning.

When the color looks a deep brown, the oils are beginning to be released, and the spices are aromatic, add the coconut milk, salt, kokom fruit and as much water as you need to just submerge the meat. You want a thick curry so do not dilute too much. Simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring the pot every 15 minutes or so and checking that the spices are not sticking to the bottom. If they are tending to stick, add 1/4 cup water as needed to dilute.

After 1 hour the oils should have risen to the top and the meat should be fairly tender. Taste and adjust spices, chilli, sourness (kokum fruit) and salt. Add the potatoes, adjust the liquids so the potatoes are submerged and simmer for an additional 30 minutes till the potatoes are cooked through and soft. Taste and adjust flavors again. the curry should be spicy, tangy and have deep flavors that you want to keep going back for. The meat should be fork tender. The consistency should be very thick, and the curry should cling to the meat heavily.

To serve, heat the curry, adjust the consistency as needed with water, and serve topped with cilantro and a side of rice.

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