As I began to write in my next post, there was a huge argument in my mind between the two “M’s” that I love the most “Mangalore” and “Meat”. “Include me” said Mangalore, “Include me” insisted meat; I decide to play fair and include them both and write about Mangalorean cuisine with meat as the hero.
Mangalore is a sleepy little town on the coast of Karnataka, India. Uniquely surrounded by the sea on one end and the western ghats on the other end, it forms an important part of the country’s spice belt. Manglorean Curry, is generally coconut based and flavored with ginger, garlic and chili. A lot of curries are also made using “Roce” (coconut milk). No wonder then, that spices are hugely dominant in the food; what is essential to note is that while the flavor’s are hot, the food itself isn’t spicy. As a kid, I remembered being welcomed home from school to an aromatic golden-orangish gravy fish gravy combined with a starkly contrasting snow white rice and accompanied by a vegetable preparation.
Mangloreans (especially the women folk) are adept at using a huge array of permutations and combinations for different core ingredients viz, meat, fish. Research will tell you that recipes vary from household to household, carefully passed by mother to daughter every generation. Another secret ingredient in Manglorean food is “Bafat Masala” or “Bafad Masala” however you call it. This secret ingredient is a hot, tangy powder and is a must have in every Christian home in Mangalore. Just adding a huge tablespoon of it can enhance the value of any simple preparation many times over, especially the “Dookramaas”( Spicy Pork meat) that is piece-de-resistance at weddings and family feasts. This powder is versatile and can be stored in an air tight container for over a year. Although, it can be replaced using its local cousin like the red chili powder and the homemade garam masala; for us Mangloreans, Bafat pito (powder) is sacrosanct. Make sure to call for some in case you have someone coming over from Mangalore.
I could go on and on speaking about the cuisine I love, but I will leave that dope for another time and move on today’s recipe. Today, I prepared “Narlache Mutton Sukkhe” (Mutton with a Semi- dry Coconut Gravy). This is the original recipe and is simple and quick to prepare. What is love about the dish is the thick gravy and the spices that linger on the palate for quite a while even after the meal. Remember, I said I would partial to the meat, well it tastes equally good with prawns or even chicken.
Narlache Mutton Sukkhe (Mutton with a Semi- dry Coconut Gravy)
- Lamb (cleaned, cut and par-boiled) – 800 gms
- Coconut (Grated) 1
- Onions (Medium sized) 2
- Garlic Pods 8-10
- Ginger 1”
- Bay Leafs 2
- Whole Red Chilles 4-6
- Cumin Seeds 1 teaspoon
- Pepper corns (crushed) 10-15
- Green Cardamom 2-3
- Curry Leaves 1 Sprig
- Bafat Powder 2 tablespoons
- Turmeric Powder ½ tablespoon
- Oil (Preferably edible coconut oil) 2 ½ tablespoons
- Coriander for garnishing
- Salt to taste
- Firstly, clean, cut wash and par-boil the lamb and keep aside. Remember, we will be cooking it later as well; so you wouldn’t want to over cook it and make it rubbery.
- Now, grind together the coconut, onions, garlic, ginger, red chilies to a coarse paste. The texture has to be coarse but make sure the onions, garlic, ginger, chillies have integrated well with the coconut. Add a little water if required.
- In a thick bottomed pan, heat the oil. To this add the curry leaves and let them change color. Add the cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the cardamom and bay leaves and cook for a while.
- Add the coconut paste and stir well. You may need to add some water at this point so that the paste doesn’t stick to the base of the pan. I used the stock I had from the mutton.
- When the oil begins to leave the sides add the bafat & turmeric powders and stir well. Keep a watch that the paste is not getting to dry and judiciously add water.
- Once the masala’s are mixed well add the mutton and salt.
- Cover and cook over a medium flame. Should be done in about 15-20 minutes.
- Once done garnish with coriander sprigs and serve with neer dosa.
Tip: This dish tastes best when it is prepared spicy.
Well that’s all from our Mangalore trip for the moment. I look forward to your feedback on how the Mutton tasted.
Keep smiling and happy cooking!