i’ve been a chef for over three decades now! i trained in chennai and started off with the taj hotel group. i’ve owned nilgiri’s indian restaurant in sydney for over 15 years. i’m on a mission to dispel the myth that indian food is no more than a ‘curry in a hurry’! come with me as i try and educate. indian food is my passion (alongside cricket!) and i’m enjoying exploring the new social media to fulfil this passion! i’ve also published cookery books, been on tv, the radio, won awards! now i’m also moving into making cookery videos. these are simple and easy to follow and don’t go on for hours like some Bollywood movies!
How quickly can you say that tongue-twister then?!
Try it (in both senses!) Mumbai Maushi’s mutton masala. . .
Well, seriously though, I wanted to share this dish with you this week.
You know how it is, just as people have a ‘bucket list’ of “10 things to do” or “10 places to visit” before they die, I also have my own ‘bucket list’ of “10 dishes to eat” before I decide to lay down flat once I’ve finished my “hour upon the stage.”
Well, here is my personal ‘Top Ten’.
(Please note that the list isn’t in any particular order!)
So, here goes: matki chi usal and poori, jhunka bhakri, kache gosht ki biryani, sabudana khichadi, pithla bhat, tandoori chicken, appam and stew, masala dosai, arsimav roti and, last but not least, the tongue-twister, quadruple M: Mumbai Maushi’s mutton masala!!!
Of course, it goes without saying but I’ll say it nevertheless, that they must all be served with a glass or two of good old Aussie Shiraz!!
Nine out of the ten dishes mentioned are classics from different parts of India and numerous adaptions of these dishes can de found in many households all over that vast land, but there is only ‘one’ recipe of MMMM with three different versions made. The three dishes made come from Shahpur and Kalanagar in Mumbai and the third comes from, guess where?
Yes, that’s right, Perth in Australia!!
But before we go any further, who is Mumbai Maushi and what is so unique about the dish?
Mumbai Maushi, or Aunt from Mumbai, is my best mate Nitin’s mother. Like all mums of this world, she is a great cook and does some fantastic dishes from her native Shahpur, near Mumbai.
Some of the dishes she makes include bheja pakoda, mutton chops, kolmino masala and the aforementioned mutton masala.
I was extremely fortunate to have feasted on Aunty’s cooking whilst Nitin lived in Sydney.
Now, however, that Nitin has moved to Perth the feasts have also moved with him which means I have to travel nearly 3000 kilometres to eat Maushi’s mutton masala, or a further 2000 kilometres to Kalanagar, Mumbai where Nitin’s older sister lives, which makes it a very very expensive MMMM!!!
So, in order to have this mutton masala at home in Sydney, my son, Aniruddh says to me, “Dad how about we get a running commentary on how to cook the dish, over the phone from Perth?” This is where Aunty is spending some time with her grandson, Arnav, and the idea of getting her to give us the recipe and instructions is great.
“Super idea, son.” I say, clapping Aniruddh on the back as I get my iPhone out of my pocket and start dialling the number. As the phone rings I say to my son, “This means that if the dish that comes out is good then it will be the fourth version of MMMM on the planet!!!”
And the phone is answered. . .
So, we get Mumbai Maushi on the phone, from Perth, and she is delighted to share the recipe with us and she starts, “Ajoy, you need. . .” and here are her instructions:
1.25 kg of goat meat (not 1kg, not 1.5 kg but 1.25kg she stipulated this!), I am also using goat ribs, with her permission!
4 medium-sized laal kanda (red onions), chopped
1 tablespoon ground lasun (garlic)
1 tablespoon ground aala (ginger)
10 gms haled (turmeric)
4 tablespoons masala (aunty’s paach masala, the recipe is attached)
21/2 ladles tael (polyunsaturated vegetable oil)
salt, to taste
“For the paach masala (five-spice mix), Ajoy, you will have to use…”
- 100 gms sukhi laal mirchi (dried red chillies)
- 20 gms dhane (Indian coriander seeds)
- 10 gms jeere (cumin seeds)
- 10 gms kale mire (black peppercorns)
- 20 gms mohori (black mustard seeds)
Then you need to add 10 gms of hinge (ground asafoetida). [This is not a part of the mix but is added to the mix, later, or it can be added during the cooking process.]10 gms garam masala, to finish.
And then Maushi says, “Ajoy, you may use your own garam masala (she’s referring to nilgiri’s garam masala that we sell in our restaurant), but please add 1 teaspoon roasted and ground khus khus (white poppy seeds) to the garam masala before sprinkling on top.”As for the method?
Well, Maushi’s method is very clear and specific. She continues, “Ajoy, marinate the goat with ground garlic and ground ginger and set aside for about 20 minutes,
then heat oil in a heavy-based pan,
heat the oil till it smokes and add the chopped onions,
caramelise the onions without adding any salt,
add the marinated meat to the onions,
sear the meat lightly, then add the ground turmeric,
add 3-4 tbsps of paach masala, which has been ground to a fine powder, and mix with the asafoetida then add to the pan. Store the remainder in an air-tight jar for future use.
cook till oil leaves the sides of the pan,
add enough hot water to cover the meat,
cover pan with a lid deep enough to hold water (or another pan), when water steams remove lid and check the meat,
remove lid and check if meat is cooked, if not, replace lid,
add salt after meat is cooked,
add the garam masala (nilgiri’s, of course!) along with the roasted and ground khus khus,
wait till oil rises to the surface, skim oil off from the surface and serve!”
plating it ‘my way’,
pour sauce over the meat,
plated and all ready to go!
Now that the MMMM is ready, here is a ready reckoner to make the dish…(just as Maushi said)….
1. Never add salt to the onions when cooking this dish as doing so prevents the meat from cooking through (this applies only for cooking Indian-style dishes with meat).
2. Paach masala is ground without the spices being roasted. The mustard seeds are ground separately and added later to the rest of the ground spices. (This is done to prevent the oil from the mustard to moisten the rest of the spice mix.)
3. Asafotida can be added to the caramelised onions which means it is not part of the paach masala.
4. The entire cooking process is performed using a moderate heat as this helps in bringing out the oil so that it rises to the surface. Skim off the oil before serving, or leave it in to mature the dish!
5. Lemon juice is never added to this dish, it just is not done as it spoils the taste. Salt does the job of replacing lemon juice as it acts as a souring agent and that is why it is, also, added at the end.
6. The dish is best eaten with a bread called bhakri.
So, if none of those six ready reckoners work for you, take a trip to Perth or Mumbai!!!
Please let me and Aunty know how you got on with your versions. Perhaps we’ll soon have lots of MMMM versions around the globe!
Anah Daata Sukhi Bhaava!!!