I am quite into lemon these days. After Gandharaj Dim and Lemon Cake successfully earning me page views, I felt pretty encouraged to try my hand on cooking Gandharaj Mutton. In my mother tongue Bengali, we call lemon "Gandharaj Lebu"....Lebu standing for lemon and "Gandharaj" meaning the fragrance exuded by lemons.
I have problem bearing with the raw fleshy smell of mutton specially when having it in my meal. Sometimes, even after adding ginger and garlic paste in dollops, the smell remains faintly which is enough for me to turn my nose up at the dish, no matter how grandiosely cooked. In order for the smell to dispel, I prefer soaking mutton in vinegar overnight. If the plan of cooking mutton is impromptu, then I add rose essence or lemon juice at the end to get rid of the smell. This Gandharaj Mutton is ideal for such impromptu occasions when all of a sudden your husband comes home with mutton making the request to have it cooked on that very morning only, leaving you with hardly 3-4 hours to fine-tune your dish.
Now cooking mutton involves laborious preparation. The process is not as simple as chicken. No wonder, why chicken is my all-time favourite. If you don't like spending hours for your mutton to soften, then after giving the marination a standing time of at least one hour, put the mutton along with the marinade in a pressure cooker and pressure cook up to 6-7 whistles. Then cook the mutton following the instruction in the recipe.
By the way, the recipe below does not involve the process of pressure-cooking. Since I had huge time in my hand while I was cooking it in the afternoon, I chose to go with slow-cooking. Also, I could not get lemon leaves anywhere in the market of US, so I cooked the dish without it. Lemon leaves would have added an extra spark to my dish fragrance wise and look wise. Alas !!
Ingredients: Cooking time: 2 hours
ü 1 kg/2 pounds mutton
ü 2 potatoes (boiled and cut into medium size cubes)
ü 3 large onions (ground into paste)
ü 200 gm yogurt
ü 3 lemons
ü 1/2 cup lemon peel (grated)
ü 10 lemon leaves (optional)
ü 2 tbsp garlic paste
ü 2 tbsp ginger paste
ü 1 tsp cumin powder
ü 1 tsp coriander powder
ü 1 tsp turmeric powder
ü 1 tsp kashmiri red mirch
ü 5-6 green chillies (ground into paste)
ü 1 tsp garam masala powder
ü Mustard oil for cooking
ü 1 tsp ghee
ü 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
ü 1 inch cinnamon stick
ü 1 bay leaf
1) Marinate the mutton with ginger-garlic paste, yogurt, 1 tbsp of mustard oil and green chilli paste. Refrigerate for an hour at least.
2) Heat oil in a wok. When oil turns piping hot, add the potato and shallow fry them till they change into golden brown color. Take them off the flame and set aside.
3) Now into the same oil, add the ingredients for sauté and allow them to sputter. Add onion paste and on medium high, fry the onions till oil floats on the surface. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and kashmiri red mirch. Saute the spices for 5-10 minutes.
4) Add the mutton and cook covered on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Mutton will release water when cooked covered, so cook the mutton until water begins to dry up.
5) Add 1 cup of hot water in the bowl of marinade, scrape out the residue and pour it to the mutton.
6) Cook covered till mutton is tender. While cooking the mutton, if you find the gravy drying up, add hot water in small measure to refill (If you are comfortable using pressure cooker, then you can follow entire process using pressure cooker and at this step, close the lid and give 2 whistles. In the USA, usually young goat meats are sold, so they are as it is very tender and hence 2 whistles are enough. However, in India, I used to give 8 whistles for the same. So use your judgement.)
7) When mutton begins to turn tender, add lemon juice squeezed out of 3 lemons, lemon leaves (if using) and lemon peel. Add salt. (If you are using pressure cooker, turn off the heat and wait till all the built-in pressure comes out and then open the lid.)
8) Cook covered again for couple of minutes till a nice aroma emanates from the gravy. Toss in the fried potatoes. (If you are using pressure cooker, turn on the heat and follow this step.)
9) Sprinkle garam masala powder on top and drizzle a tsp of ghee before turning the heat off.
10) Serve hot with paratha, puri or rice.