I don’t know what newness can I create in a simple Pathar Mangsher jhol that is so popular and so fondly prepared in every bengali kitchen. Pathar Mangsho as we call in Bengali or Mutton means Goat meat. Sunday would be incomplete without pathar mangho, sada bhaat ar begun bhaja (Mutton curry, steamed plain rice, Aubergine fry) We Bengalis have grown up with it in our blood literally. Bongs are known for their love for meat and fish, our mornings begin with mach bhaja(Fish fry) and the day ends with mach’er jhol (Fish Curry). Another popular Mutton dish is the Kosha Mangsho. But give me a chance and I shall pick a laddle full of mutton curry with white steamed rice. I like using my fingers to mix the rice with the jhol (curry) and gulp it into my mouth in one go. My taste buds are already warming up just at the thought of it!
A relative or friends visiting on a Sunday or any holiday for lunch or dinner would definitely mean that meat is on the menu, that maybe chicken or mutton. On wedding, I would be disappointed to see if there is no mutton but chicken being served. My didi (elder sister) likes chicken more, which would mean her share of Pathar mangsho always goes into my plate. Not just my mother even my mother-in-law also cooks very tasty mutton curry and she prepares this dish on almost all our visit.
Evertime I visit her I plan upon to learn how she cooks so perfectly but sadly our visit is so short that I hardly get to sit down and learn it from her. Anything cooked my mothers are indeed special and delicious because it has that extra ingredient which is not available in the market called “Maa ka pyaar” (Mother’s love). And I always say cooking is an art, we all use the same ingredients but the taste comes from heart, it’s the love and care with which one cooks. So let’s begin with the basic steps for cooking Bengali style Pathar Mangsho’r jhol or Mutton Curry.
Mustard Oil, Turmeric powder, Cumin Powder, Chilly Powder, Bay leaf- 3 to 4, Ginger, Garlic, Onion, Tomato, Potatoes.
For this Bengali style mutton curry or pathar mangsho all you need is half kg mutton (quantity depends on the number of people you are feeding, For my small family of three-member half-kilo is enough for a single meal as we definitely had fish in the menu too) Wash it and clean it, marinate it with two tablespoon mustard oil. The mustard oil is a quintessential part of any Bengali cuisine as it enhances the aroma and also has many benefits. I was reading an article about the many benefits of mustard oil and I am amazed to find the reason behind its use in traditional Indian food. It is an anti-microbial property, its good for skin, it also has anti-fungal and Ayurveda properties. It’s good to cure cough and cold. I still remember that my mother used to rub mustard oil mixed with little water on my tummy when I had a stomach ache for instant relief when I was in school. Now I see my sister doing the same to her little son, well its natural cure at home.
Well, marinate the mutton with mustard oil and all the important spices like turmeric, red chilly powder, Jeera (Cumin) powder, ginger garlic paste, green chilly paste, salt and all of these one teaspoon each. Put 2-3 bay leaf. Keep it aside for four to five hours and for best results overnight as the flavours will infuse into the meat. Take one big sized onion and chop it finely, three medium-sized potatoes and chop it off in the middle. Take one big sized red tomato and finely chop it. We love our potatoes in any meat curry.
Heat one tea spoon mustard oil in a wok as the oil gets heated , let it heat properly and evenly, put a pinch off turmeric powder in it as it will prevent the oil from spluttering. Put the potatoes cut into halves in the wok, put a pinch of turmeric again, half tea spoon salt and fry it for some time, don’t cook it. Take it on a bowl and keep it aside.
In another heavy-bottomed pan heat 2 table spoon mustard oil and temper, it with one small stick of Cinnamon (Dalchinni), one cardamom (elaichi), 2 bay leaf put the chopped onions, salt and fry it for some time, then add the ginger-garlic paste and continue frying till the onions get reduced in quantity than add the finely chopped tomatoes and keep stirring.
Add one tea spoon of all the spices- Turmeric powder, Cumin powder (Jeera powder), Chilly powder according to your taste. Mix it properly and continue frying all the ingredients on the pan. Let the spices get cooked properly. Take out the ingredients and make a paste by grinding it all it on a mixture/blender. It will help to add thickness to your gravy.
Heat 2-3 table spoon mustard oil. When the oil is heated evenly and give away the raw smell add the mutton slowly and let it cook on low flame. Keep stirring first five minutes and you can see it will release all its juices gradually. Put in the half cooked potatoes. Continue stirring it for some time. My grandmother used to say that low flame cooked food tastes better. You can keep the flame low and cover it and let it cook. But I remember at times when there were sudden arrival of guests at home and my mother was in a hurry what she used to do was shifting the hald-cooked mutton and all the other ingredients in a pressure cooker, add some water for the gravy and put salt according to the taste and blow 3-4 whistles depending on how tender the mutton was.
This is one technique I often do being sometimes too lazy. Cooking mutton is definitely a work of patience. Meat like duck, mutton do take some time to fully tenderize. To quicken the process you can add a few big pieces or even a paste of papaya. Papaya contains an enzyme called as Papain which can breakdown meat fibres. It is the natural process of tenderising meat.
Some mutton takes time to cook, 4-5 whistles are enough. Let the cooker cool down, open the lid and add one table spoon of Garam Masala powder which you will get readily available in the market and simmer it for some time. Your Pathar Mangho’r jhol is ready to eat.
I love to eat my pathar mangsho’r jhol (Mutton Curry) with steamed rice as I need the flavours!!
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