We were having a fiery discussion, my friend and I. You know those kinds that begin casually over a topic as random as what size dress Kareena Kapoor wears but end up in a discussion about new age technology or Cricket and you forget what you were discussing in between. But you still want to showcase your oratory skills and never pause for breath because if you did, the others would take over and then you would be at the listening end, which you of course don’t want because if you won’t speak the world will be deprived of a huge nugget of knowledge that only you can impart. Phew! There I had to do that to make a point.
Now, back to the story- we were discussing about food. We still have not solved the mystery of how we arrived at a heated discussion about how which food was more spicy and hot, Kashmiri or Andhra ? We discussed the merits of our own cuisines but to our deep regret realized that we had limited knowledge about spices, chilies and cooking in general and so agreed to disagree. This was before Google knew everything about everyone. Oh yes! the people from the pre google era are not yet extinct.
So just to prove a point, we decided that we will both cook a dish from our cuisines and ask friends to judge and vote. We were serious about it, or so we thought. The battle of the novice cooks began but instead of voting, we ended up admiring how different each cuisine was and yet there was something that brought them together and tied them into one.
On one side was the Mamsam Pulusu, fiery and tangy and on the other hand was the Marchwangan korma ( Kashmiri Mutton Chili korma) ; hot, red, mysterious. There was no comparison. They both stood tall surrounded by oils and spices and made us forget what the whole discussion was about.
The one thing that did puzzle quite a few people though was how did I manage to make a lamb/goat dish without chopping a whole mountain of onions and smashing a few dozen tomatoes. Well that is a secret that I no longer wish to keep hidden. I am posting the recipe for the same Marchwangan Korma, made in sweet fennel powder and fiery red Kashmiri chilies.
So if you have friend’s who can start a discussion on one topic and move on to a thousand others in no time and seem to be coming to no conclusion, make the Marchwangan korma. Who knows this might just become the next topic of discussion.
- 1 kg pieces of lamb/goat cut into bite size pcs
- 3- 4 Tbs oil
- 2 green cardamoms
- 5 cloves
- 2 black cardamoms
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- ½ inch cinnamon stick
- 2 Heaped tbs Kashmiri chili powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- 1 tbs fennel powder
- In a bowl mix the chili powder in 3 cups of water and keep aside
- Heat the oil, preferably in a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pan
- Slightly crush the green cardamom and cloves and add them in the oil
- Add the pieces of lamb, Stir it all together
- Add in the cinnamon stick and the black cardamoms
- Cook on medium heat, stirring once a while until the lamb starts to turn reddish brown. (about 20 – 30 minutes)
- Add in the rest of the spices except garam masala & mix to combine. Add in the salt too.
- Now turn the heat to medium high and Add in ¼ C of the red chili water mix into the meat. Stir to combine and keep stirring and let the water evaporate before adding more chili water.
- Ensure the meat and spices do not dry up, but enough water has to evaporate and the meat has to release some oil before you add more chili water.
- Keep repeating this process until all of the water is used.
- After you have added the last batch of water,and it has evaporated, the meat should be fork tender.
- --If it is fork tender Add in ¼ C of water and garam masala and let it cook uncovered till the oils separate and the gravy looks like a thick sauce.
- --If it is not fork tender yet( sometimes the age of lamb/goat is a factor) add a cup of hot water, cover it and cook on low heat for about 5-10 minutes or until the meat is tender and the thick sauce like consistency is achieved.
- Serve with naan, freshly made rotis or plain rice ; a salad of onion, cucumber and lemon juice and a salted chaas to top it off.
This is one of my articles that was originally published in the Australian based magazine, Chak De India.