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Malabar mutton curry

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

The cuisine of the Malabar region which includes the beautiful coast of Northern Kerala in India, is distinct and delicious. The region has been influenced by many cultures through the centuries, Arab traders, Portuguese invaders, numerous diverse local inhabitants, and the English. This has led to a fabulous fusion of spices, flavors and cooking techniques.

The Mapillas are one of the local inhabitants that have developed a very traditional and unique cuisine influenced by Arab traders centuries ago. This cuisine is characterized by slow cooked meats, steamed breads, and the use of sweet spices, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves among others. The cuisine is decadent, and meat heavy, perfect for those special guests. The queen of Mapilla cuisine is UmmI Abdulla, I need to get her cookbooks on my shelf soon!

This delicious curry has rich and subtle flavors from the perfect blend of spices that first marinate the meat and then are slow braised together on low heat. I used a combination of lamb shank and lamb chops for this curry, the fatty meats added that perfect balance of rich oils and flavors. This curry pairs perfectly with a soft bread, parathas, naan or chapattis.

If you want, you can substitute chicken for mutton, and reduce the cooking time. This thin volume is filled with delicious recipes from this culture. It adds another dimension of flavor and culture to my bookshelf. I recommend this book for those who would like to learn more about this cuisine through these delicious recipes.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


1 lb mutton, pieces with bone preferred

‘For the spice mix:

1 large onion, chopped roughly

1 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons coriander powder

2 green chilies, minced, or to taste

1 tablespoon ginger paste

2 tablespoons garlic paste

1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed

Salt to taste

3 tablespoons oil

3 whole cloves

1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick

4 green cardamom pods

10 curry leaves

2 tomatoes, diced finely

2 large potatoes, cubed

2 cups water

Salt to taste

3 tablespoons cilantro, minced

Add all the ingredients for the spice mix to a blender and purée into a smooth paste. Marinate the mutton with the spices for at least 1 hour, but overnight Is strongly recommendid.

Heat the oil in a pot and add the whole spices. Sauté for 1 minute and add the marinated meat. Sauté for 5 minutes till the meat is cooked on the outside and the spice marinade gives out a wonderful aroma. Add the tomatoes and cook stirring often on low heat till the tomatoes have broken down, about 15 minutes. Add the water and cook for 1 hour on a simmer or pressure cook for 45 minutes, till the meat is drop off the bone tender.

Add the cubed potatoes and simmer for an additional 20 minutes till the potatoes are cooked through. Adjust water as needed but the curry should be thick and cover the meat well.

Serve with the cilantro sprinkled on top and breads like naan, parathas or chapattis.

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