Most folks associate an ishtoo with South India, Kerala to be specific. However, there are a number of recipes, like this one from the north. For more of a detailed history of the Ishtoo, check out the recipe for Chicken ishtoo.
This recipe is from Delhi/Bhopal. It is a simple recipe that stays with the Kerala-style coconut based gravy, and is light in flavor with the green chilies packing a punch. However, the use of onions and North Indian whole "garam masala" spices from the early Mughal cooking school, transforms this ishtoo to a beautiful sauce that compliments the meat beautifully. Although the recipe takes time to simmer the meat, it is quite a simple recipe. The fork tender meat is bathed in a creamy coconut gravy that is mildly spiced. The green chilies, depending on how many you add, flavor the curry from mild to spicy, I like my curry super spicy. I serve this curry with appams ideally, but is is also good with akki roti or rice.
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2 tablespoons coconut oil
8 green cardamom pods
1 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 small bay leaf
2 onions, finely diced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
8-10 green chilies, halved longitudinally
1/2 can + 1/4 can coconut milk
1 lb mutton chops
1 lb mutton leg meat with bone
Salt, to taste
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup coconut milk
8-10 curry leaves
Ground green cardamom
Fresh grated coconut to garnish
Heat the oil in a deep pot and add the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf. Sauté for 30 seconds till the cardamom pods turn a light golden. Add the onions and sauté till they are translucent and cooked through, do not brown. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilies and cook till the ginger no longer smell raw, about 2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the meat and salt and simmer gently with the lid closed for 1-1 1/2 hours, till the meat is very soft and fork tender. Add the potatoes and cook for an additional 15 minutes till the potatoes are cooked through. Taste and adjust salt.
Open the pot and add the remaining coconut milk, curry leaves and ground cardamom. Bring to a single simmer and turn off the heat. Stir well to mix. Taste again.
Serve garnished with grated coconut.