Category Archives: Mutton

Chettinad Calling

We were in Chennai on the weekend to attend a wedding. We remembered our own wedding which included Bengali and Tamil ceremonies and felt happy. We also met four of our friends who had attended our wedding. The best moments from the wedding included a photo session where I was constantly being instructed to not show my teeth. I was laughing my head off at the ludicrous poses that the photographer was asking me to give. All our friends stood around us laughing while I was asked to feel Mahesh’s heartbeat, hug a chair, and look shy. Those pics are embarrassingly entertaining. While the professional photographer was composing his pictures, a friend clicked a pic of me standing on pillows to gain height!

Gaining height!

Gaining height!

We were staying in T Nagar and wanted to eat Chettinad style food. Zomato came to my aid and I zeroed in on Amma in T.Nagar. The place has a lot of history. It is apparently owned by MGR’s personal cook and as per the auto guy who dropped my friend to the restaurant, been the venue of many important political meetings in the past. By the way, autos now run by meter in Chennai now. This is is big development in the State.

We ordered two mutton biryanis, one meal, nethili fry, crab lollypop, turkey 65, fish curry, and Amma Special Chicken.

We were served a complimentary chicken soup which was average.

Complimentary Chicken Soup

Complimentary Chicken Soup

Our starters were crab lollypop, nethilli fry, and turkey 65.

Mutton Biryani, Turkey 65, nethili fry, and thali

Mutton Biryani, Turkey 65, nethili fry, fish curry and thali

The turkey tasted just like chicken. The nethilli fry was crunchy and yum and the crab lollypop was yum. I first thought it was maida with very little crab. To my delight it was all crab with a very thin coating of maida.

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The thali came with sambhar, rasam, dal, a vegetable, and curd. Chicken curry was served on the side.

Thali dishes

Thali dishes

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What really stood out was the nethili fry, fish curry, and the crab. Another interesting thing was that there were three chicken curries on the table which were all very distinct in taste. I preferred the fish over the meat though. Our meal cost about Rs 1500.

The following day, we lunched at Mudaliars Arcot Kitchen in Mylapore. This is basically a joint that operates out of a home and serves home style food.

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We went with their recommendation and ordered the Picchi Potta Chicken (shredded chicken with spices), Sankara Fish Curry, Fish Fry, Arcot Special Chicken, and 2 plates of rice.

The picchi potta chicken was outstanding and went very well with rasam and rice. The fish curry tasted exactly like the one Amma makes. Mahesh wiped it clean.

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The fish fry was average and there was nothing special about Arcot Chicken. It was Chinmil (Chinese + Tamil?) dish and we struggled to finish it.

Arcot Special Chicken

Arcot Special Chicken

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Our meal cost us Rs 595 and was more than worth it.

We also caught a glimpse of Amma while entering the Marina beach. There were cops on the road and traffic had been halted. We knew it had to be her. We waited barely for a minute and there she was – in the front seat of her SUV with her hands folded.

At the beach, we chomped on my second favourite beach snack – steamed peanuts. We also saw a mobile van by the State Fisheries Department serving seafood. Very very tempting. But, we decided to leave it for next time.

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Our last stop in Chennai was Buhari Hotel in T Nagar. It has been around since 1951 and claims to have invented the legendary Chicken 65. Their menu also features a “Chicken 90” and “Chicken 2010”. We were still recovering from our lunch at Mudaliars. I ordered a Mutton Pepper Soup and Mahesh ordered for an appam, idiappams, and paya.

Mutton pepper soup

Mutton pepper soup

Paya, idiappams, and appam

Paya, idiappams, and appam

The paya was outstanding – the trotters were soft and the curry hit all the right notes. It was sour and spicy and went well with the idiappams. All this along with a bottle of water cost us Rs 350!

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Filed under Chicken, Fish, Mutton, Travel and Food

Amma Mess, Madurai

I know I haven’t blogged in ages. Hope to be more regular now. The past few weeks have been interesting. I have simultaneously experienced extreme bliss and sadness. I could not imagine that meeting my niece for the very first time could bring with it inexplicable peace, joy, and happiness.  At the same time a spate of bad news from close friends and family had dampened my spirits. But, taking inspiration from the positive message in Life of Pi, I’ve decided to blog.

This post captures our annual visit to the village for Pongal 2013 as well as a spectacular meal at Amma Mess in Madurai. I think Amma Mess in Madurai can be compared to Karim’s in Delhi in terms of fame and hype.

Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth, and Mallya at Amma Mess

Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth, and Mallya at Amma Mess

Last Saturday, we walked in for dinner at around 7.30 pm or so. The decor is quite plain. We were profiled as soon as we sat down as a Mineral water bottle was placed on our table before we even asked for it. The servers figured that we were not locals and were interested in sampling the menu. I asked them if they had mutton kola and they responded by immediately serving us two kolas each. These were fabulous. The sweetness of the coconut and the heat of the spices lent it a very distinct flavour. I was quite excited by the addition of coconut to the mutton mince. On my request, Akka made this on the day after pongal. The recipe follows below.

Mutton Kolas

Mutton Kolas

We scanned through the menu and were intrigued by the mention of rabbit, pigeon, and emu on it. 

Menu

Menu

In the specials, bone marrow omlette caught our attention and we ordered for it.

Specials at Amma Mess

Specials at Amma Mess

The omlette had a meaty flavour to it and we quite liked it.

Bone Marrow Omlette

Bone Marrow Omlette

It was also interesting to note that the only vegetarian stuff they had are actually meant to be accompaniments with the meat – idlis, dosas, and idiappams, for instance, are served with chicken curry or fish curry.

I ate rabbit for the very first time. It appeared and tasted like a very tender chicken.

Rabbit 65

Rabbit 65

The chicken dosa was served with chicken curry and was decent.

Chicken Dosa

Chicken Dosa

We tried the Veechu Parota next. This was like a Mughlai Paratha and was served with chicken curry.

Veechu Parotha

Veechu Parotha

Even though we were quite stuffed, we decided to try a fish dish. Mahesh ordered Ayrai Fish Curry with Idiappams. The fish curry was really tangy and spicy and went well with the idiappams.

Fish curry with idiappams

Fish curry with idiappams

Akka’s  Mutton Kola

250gms boneless mutton/mutton mince

4-5 green chillies

1/4 coconut

2 tablespoons ginger-garlic fees

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

12-15 sambhar onions

1 sprig of pudina leaves

2-3, cardamom pods

2-3, cloves

1 inch cinnamon

2-3 tablespoons ground channa dal

pinch of turmeric

salt to taste

Ingredients for the Mutton Kola

Ingredients for the Mutton Kola

Method

1. Grind the boneless mutton in case you are not using mince. Then add all the above ingredients except the ground channa dal and grind into a semi-fine paste. if you are using mince then you can proceed to grind it with the spices.

2. Add the ground channa dal, one spoon at a time in order to bind the mixture. Shape into round balls and then deep fry them.

Mutton Kolas

Mutton Kolas

The coconut flavour in Akka’s Kolas were not as pronounced as the ones in Amma Mess. I think a tsp of coconut oil and some more coconut may enhance the flavour of the kolas. The menu on the day after Pongal was meat all the way. Along with the Kolas, we had mutton biryani that Mahesh made, chicken curry, and mutton dalcha.

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry

Mutton Dalcha

Mutton Biryani

Mutton Biryani

I am already looking forward to Pongal 2014!

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Filed under Chicken, Egg, Fish, Mutton, Travel and Food

Mutton Biryani

Each city has its own sense of humour, often displayed by shopkeepers, rickshaw-wallahs, and those you meet on the road. I was at the receiving end of something of the caustic variety recently. We had gone to GK-1, M-Block market for pre-Diwali shopping. It was around 10.45am or so and for some strange reason both Mahesh and I were quite hungry. The Chaat guy near Prince Paan looked very inviting. They were just setting shop when I walked up to the guy and pointed to a container with paani (for paani puri) and asked him “Bhaiya, yeh kal ka hain ya aaj ka” (Bhaiya, is the water from yesterday or today’s). With a deadpan expression on his face he told me “Yeh do teen mahine purana hain” (This is two-three months old). I laughed out loud and told him “phir toh khaana hi padega” (Then,  I will have to have it). Mahesh, told me I deserved it. I guess, I did 🙂

Diya painted by Mahesh

Diya painted by Mahesh

The menu for Diwali was simple this time – biryani and raita. Mahesh would learn how to make Biryani from his friend James’s mother  – Sakkammal Aunty. Aunty suggested that he watch her make the biryani and note the recipe. Armed with a notebook and almost tempted to carry a tiffin box to bring the biryani back, Mahesh set out early on a Sunday morning for his masterclass. Not only did he eat some biryani there he also brought back loads. We had to make a trip to Rama Stores in Munirka as Mahesh was very particular about the biryani rice. A day before Diwali was a bad time though as the shop was super crowded. After waiting for what seemed like forever to get someone to hear our order, Mahesh decided to go inside and procure what we needed. Soon, people started waving at him and asking them to hand them certain items! With all ingredients in place, Mahesh set out to make the biryani all on his own.

Here is the recipe that has been tried, tested, and perfected by Sakkammal Aunty. It is highly recommended:

Ingredients

1. 750 gms mutton

2. 1/2 kg jeera rice

3. 4 onions, thinly sliced

4. 5 medium sized tomatoes, chopped

5. 1/2 packet Biryani Masala (Aunty gave Mahesh a packet of masala she got from Tuticorin)

6. 1.5 tsp fennel seeds

7. 1 inch cinnamon stick, 2 nos

8. 6 cloves

9. 3 cardamoms

10. 1 star anise

11. 1 tsp ghee

12. Water

13. 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste

14. 1 bay leaf

15. Handful of curry leaves

16. 1 tablespoon chilli powder

Method

1. Dry roast one stick of cinnamon and spices 7-10, let it cool, and then grind into a fine powder.

2. Heat a tablespoon of ghee and toss the rice in and stir continiously. Do not let the rice colour. This step helps ensure that each grain of the rice remains separate.

3. Heat a tablespoon of oil, add 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste and let it cook. Add 2 thinly sliced onions and fry till the onions turn glossy. Add the mutton in and fry for about 2 minutes or so. Next, add 3 chopped tomatoes and 4 glasses of water or enough water to submerge the mutton. Pressure cook this – two whistles are sufficient.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in another pan. Add cinnamon, curry leaves, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste, and 1 thinly sliced onion. Fry well and then add one finely chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon of chilli powder.

5. In a cooker, add the fried masala (Step 4), roasted and powdered masala (Step 1), boiled mutton with spices, water (double the quantity of the rice- you can use the water in which the mutton was boiled), biryani masala, rice, salt, turmeric powder,  and stir it for about 10 minutes or so on high. Then turned the flame on sim, cover the cooker, place the weight, and cook for 8 minutes (no whistle). Wait for at least 15-20 minutes before you open the cooker.

This biryani is so delightfully yummy that I ate it without any raita. I was amazed at how tender the mutton was and surprised that just 2 whistles did the trick.

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Heritage Walk and Street Food in Old Delhi

A trip to old Delhi to sample the kebabs and chaats has been on our agenda for a long time. When a friend forwarded a link to Delhi Heritage Walks, it sounded a perfect way of sampling the best the streets had to offer. The heritage element was an added bonus. Priced at Rs 900 per head, the walk entailed 3 heritage stops and 4 food stops. We were all meant to assemble at Gate No.1 of Jama Masjid. Mahesh and Megha were horrified to hear that only vegetarian fare was part of the deal – a fact I shared with them only after we got down at Chawri Bazaar. We hopped on to cycle rickshaws outside the station and decided to head to Karim’s first. We go-karted along the crowded lanes to reach our destination. The rickshaw I was on collided with 1 scooter and 3 rickshaws on the way. As our guide told us later, in this part of Delhi “you are always in someone’s way”.

Whose Way is it Anyway?

We were lucky to find a place (not really a table as we shared our table with 6 others) for 4 and were seated immediately. We ordered 2 rotis, 1 plate of Mutton Qorma, and 2 pieces of seekh kebabs.

Mutton Qorma

While the qorma gravy was delicious, the mutton was hard and chewy. The yeasty rotis were wonderful. We also liked the soft and sleek seekh kebabs. The plan was to pack dinner from Karim’s a plan that remained unexecuted on this trip.

Seekh Kebab

Our first stop on the heritage walk was Jama Masjid. The mosque is breathtaking from the inside. Unfortunately, Mahesh and I were not very impressed with the heritage aspect of the walk. Our experience with Bangalore Walks had raised our expectations.  We were looking forward to anecdotes and fun trivia along with a dose of history.

We also hoped that the food aspect of the walk would also capture the history of the shops and their creations. Unfortunately, this was missing. A quick online search on all our food stops revealed that there were interesting stories behind most of them. Sharing that with the walkers would have definitely enhanced the experience. Our first stop was the Jain Coffee House. The entry into this place was a dark narrow lane which added to its mystique. We were informed that most of the shop-keepers around the area ordered their lunches from Jain Coffee House. The USP of this joint was its elaborate fruit sandwiches. We sampled chikoo and pineapple sandwiches. The fruits were sliced, placed on the bread, topped with paneer, butter, pomegranate seeds, and jam. You can read more about this place here and here.

The Assembly

We also sampled the samosa sandwich that was topped with paneer and pomegranate and was a tad too salty. The sandwiches are very reasnably priced. The fruits ones were Rs 35 each and the samosa sandwich Rs 40.

Our next food stop was the Hiralal Chaat Corner. This place really blew our mind away with its Watermelon Kuliya Chaat. The fruit is cut in cylindrical shapes and the flesh is scooped out to create a pocket which is then filled with boiled channa, pomegranate, chaat masala, rock salt, lemon juice, and other spices. It reminded me of a tangy golgappa minus the crunch of the puri. The contrast of the sweet watermelon and the tangy spices was unbelievably good. You can read more about this place here.

Watermelon Kuliya

We also tried the potato kuliya and the cucumber kuliya, but they were no match to the watermelon. They have several varieties of kuliya – tomato, banana, apple, and weet potato. We also had the fried potatoes and the alu tikki which were ordinary.

Potato Kuliya

Cucumber Kuliya

Our next stop was Ashok Chaat Corner which was bang opposite the Metro Station. By this time we were quite full. We only sampled a piece of dahi puri chaat. This was again regular stuff and nothing out of the ordinary.

Our last stop was Kuremal Mahavir Prasad Kulfi Wale. The first kulfi we sampled was the Mango Kulfi. This was no ordinary kulfi. The stone had been removed carefully and luscious kulfi was filled into the cavity of the mango and frozen. I was amazed at how deftly the stone had been removed by hand. You can read more about this place here.

Mango stuffed with kulfi

Sliced up

We also sampled other flavours such as falsa, jamun, sitaphal, chiku, and paan. The texture of the fruit flavoured kulfis were like that of a sorbet.

Jamun

Falsa

Paan Kulfi

Mahesh and I loved the paan kulfi and the mango one. We intend on coming back for the kulfi and the watermelon kuliya and of course Karim’s!

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Filed under Mutton, Travel and Food, Vegetarian

Ma’s Spectacular Kebabs

My mother made some spectacular mutton kebabs last weekend. She claims to have made these many a times when we were children and was surprised that I had no memories of eating this before last weekend. She made these again this weekend just so that I could capture it for the blog. What is interesting about this recipe is that the kebab is made from mutton pieces which are boiled with loads of masalas and then hand ground and shaped into kebabs. The meat and masalas were ground on a stone that has been in the family for over three generations. It belonged to my father’s grandmother who passed it on to my grandmother who then gave it to my mother. I recall keenly observing many a helps sitting on the floor and making a paste out of poppy seeds, mustard seeds, ginger-garlic and also trying my hand at it the minute they got up to tend to something else. It looked like a lot of fun. 

Now that I do a whole lot of cooking, I prefer shortcuts and recipes that are quick to put together. I made these kebabs myself a few weeks ago and I whole-heartedly admit that the ones made by my mother are infinitely better. My mother has agreed to give me a spare stone she has so that I can use it to make hand ground masalas. I guess they do make a difference to the flavour and texture of a dish.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1) 1 kg mutton pieces

2) 7-8 dried red chillies

3) 1 tbsp peppercorns

4) 500 gms onion (thinly sliced and fried till they are translucent)

5) 125 gms channa dal

6) 1 tbsp jeera

7) 6-7 cardamoms

8) 2 -3 one inch sticks of cinnamon

9 ) 50 gms chopped ginger

10) 7-8 cloves of garlic

11) Water

12) 2 beaten eggs

13) 1 tbsp chicken masala/garam masala

14) 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder

15) 2 tbsps finely chopped coriander

16) Oil

Process

1. Place ingredients 1-11 along with salt in a pressure cook and cook for about 4-5 whistles.

2. Drain the stock and let the masalas and the meat cool down. You can use the stock to make shorba. In fact, you could sip it just as it is as it quite flavoursome.

3. Remove the meat and discard the bones. Then grind the masalas and the meat. Avoid grinding it into a very fine paste so that the kebab has a bite to it. Don’t use water while grinding.  

4. Heat a tbsp of oil, add the ground meat mixture and sprinkle chilli powder, chicken masala, and coriander. Cook this so as to dry the mixture out. The mixture must not be too wet as it will then make it difficult for us to shape into kebabs.

5. Cool the mixture and then shape into kebabs. Dip in egg and then shallow/deep fry and serve with a green chutney.

Green Chutney

Ingredients

1/2 cup coriander leaves

1 tsp jeera powder

2 green chillies

1/2 tsp sugar

2 – 3 tbsps curd

Salt to taste

Grind all these ingredients finely for the chutney and serve with the kebabs.

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Filed under Mutton, Starters

Amma’s Mutton Kuzhambu

We routinely battle over the remote at home. Very rarely do we both agree to watch the same thing on television. This weekend was no different. While Mahesh insisted on watching some Tamil comedy scenes for the nth time, I wanted TLC. He obliged and for a minute or so we saw Donna Hay putting together a rustic pie. Intrigued by what she was doing, Mahesh asked, “What is she making?” I promptly quipped, “a rustic pie”. After a good 30 seconds, he turned towards me and asked, “Have you seen this before”. I told him quite innocently and in what I thought a convincing tone, “Nope. I simply guessed” and then burst into a fit of laughter. Both of us laughed for a good five minutes and then agreed to watch something else.

 Anyway, the recipe I am sharing today is a very simple Chettinad curry that Amma makes. What I really like about is that it does not require you to fry the masalas and stand over the stove for long. Most mutton and chicken curry recipes require you to brown the base and then bhuna the meat along with the masalas. None of it is called for in the preparation of this dish and the result is a curry that is effortless and yummy. Here is the recipe:

 Ingredients

 1 kg mutton

25-30 sambhar onions, chopped into bits. You can use 2 regular onions in place of sambhar onions. It tastes better with sambhar onions though. You can find them at Rama Stores, Munirka in Delhi.

2 heaped tbsps of coriander powder

2 tbsps of chilli powder

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsps ginger-paste

4 tsps grated coconut

2 tomatoes

1 cup tamarind water

Curry leaves

2 tsp fennel Seeds

Coriander leaves

Oil

Water

Salt

 Process

1. Put the mutton or chicken pieces in a pressure cooker and add most of the sambhar onions to it. Also add the ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric, and salt to it. Add enough water so that the meat is submerged. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles in case of mutton and for 2-3 in case of chicken.

 2. Make a fine paste of coconut, 1 tsp fennel seeds, and 6-7 sambhar onions.

 3. After the mutton is cooked, add the coconut paste and chopped tomatoes and let it come to a boil.

 4. Once the tomatoes soften, add the tamarind water and cook for 10-12 minutes on medium flame.

 5. Heat a tsp of oil in a separate pan and add curry leaves, fennel seeds, and 5-6 chopped sambhar onions to it. You could also add a few cloves, cardamoms, and cinnamon. Fry this for 2 minutes and then add it to the curry. Garnish the curry with chopped coriander. 

 You can serve the kozhambu with piping hot rice. It also goes well with Dosas. It tastes better the next day so make sure you reserve some.

Mutton Kozhambu

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