My grandfather was fond of entertaining and often had European guests over for lunch or dinner. Mammu’s stews were an instant hit and often they would invite themselves over to taste them over again. Herein is her recipe for Mutton Stew.
- Half a kilo of mutton
- One onion sliced fine
- A piece of ginger about one inch long chopped finely
- Eight to ten green chilies slit length wise
- The milk of one grated coconut (first milk to be extracted by squeezing the milk with your hands, or mixing in a blender for a minute, after adding a cup of warm water, The second and third milk are to be extracted in a similar manner and kept aside. Do not mix the first milk with the latter two.)
- One tablespoon of natural brown vinegar
- A stick of cinnamon
- Four cloves
- About a teaspoonful of whole pepper corns
- Pepper powder
- Salt to taste
- Ghee, a tablespoon or two
Heat the ghee in your pressure cooker. (my granny never used a pressure cooker all her life) and add the whole stick of cinnamon, cloves and pepper corns. Now add the sliced onions and sauté until soft and pink colored. Add the ginger and green chilies and the mutton. Saute the mutton until all the water has evaporated and the mutton begins to fry. Now add the second and the third extract of coconut milk. Add salt and cook the mutton until done. ( fifteen minutes in the pressure cooker or one and a half hours on a slow fire.) Now add the first milk. As soon as the mixture boils take it off the fire and add the vinegar and the pepper powder. Note that if the stew is too thin you can thicken it with cornflour or maida mixed in a little water.( Mammu used maida which was called ‘marikan podi’ by the malayalees which I think meant American flour.)
This stew is a local adaptation of the English stew. There are several variations to this basic recipe. Mutton may be substituted with Chicken. A fish stew is also made where in the fish is first coated with turmeric, salt and flour and shallow fried before being added to the coconut milk gravy. Popularly known as ‘Fish Molee’, and eaten with ‘Vellappams’ that melt in the mouth, this is a dish that is gaining recognition even in the North of India.
A pure vegetarian stew can be conjured up by replacing the mutton with vegetables. Carrots, potatoes, whole small onions, peas, beans, turnips, cauliflower, mushrooms or just plain potato and onion stew is equally delightful to the taste buds.