Food and some stories....

Category: Bengali Cuisine

Kosha Mangsho|Dry mutton curry-A Thakurbari recipe

Mutton is synonymous with Sundays in any Bengali household. Bongs love their food and like every food category think they make the best mutton curry.Kosha mangsho means slightly dry mutton curry, as in there is less gravy.  I have never been much of a mutton fan, but my husband loves all things mutton and on his birthday I thought it was time to surprise him with a mutton dish for dinner.  Having never cooked mutton before I was in search of a recipe which was simple and easy to make, didn’t want any last minute disasters.

I generally am not much of a believer in recipe books, and rather scour food blogs for inspiration and I came across this interesting recipe across many blogs, where they say that this is a Thakurbari recipe. Now for the non bongs, which means that this recipe is from the Tagore family. Rabindranath Tagore is known for his cultural influences but what is perhaps lesser known is that of the women of Tagore household were also a huge influence. From clothes to food and art they were the cultural icons for many women of their generation. A book called Thakur Barir Ranna by Purnima Tagore was published compiling these recipes and anybody interested in buying the book can buy it here.

I have not blindly followed the recipe from any single source; rather made some modifications as per convenience; also have used a pressure cooker instead of slow cooking as you get very tender meat without slaving in the kitchen for hours. Here is how I cooked my mutton curry.

What you need:

Mutton-500 gms

1 onion

Ginger-1 inch

5-6 garlic cloves

4 dry red chillies

Turmeric powder

2tsp coriander powder

2 tbsp curd

½ tsp sugar

Salt to taste

Couple of green chillies

Mustard oil

Ghee (clarified butter)

One big cinnamon stick

3-4 green cardamom pods


Grind together the onion, ginger, garlic and the red chillies in a blender. In a bowl mix the ground paste with curd, turmeric and coriander powder. This paste should be then added to the mutton for marinating; 5-6 hours of marinating the meat should give you good results.

Heat the mustard oil in a pressure cooker, add the mutton pieces and cook for five minutes till the mutton pieces are brown on both sides. Add salt and sugar and cook till the oil separates. Add the rest of the marinade and half a cup of water. Pressure cook for 15 minutes, after the steam has released on its own, open the cooker and adjust the gravy as you like it.

Take some ghee in a frying pan, and add the cinnamon, cardamom and the green chillies to it, give them a good stir, roast till you start getting the aroma of the spices, pour over the mutton. Serve with luchi or paratha, do not let the simplicity of the recipe fool you, I have not eaten better tasting mutton. Good news, the husband agreed!!





Why Gondhoraj Lebu will change your life

To the uninitiated the brouhaha about a lemon (gondhoraj lebu) will seem like typical Bengali idiosyncrasy. But if you haven’t tasted it, you don’t know what you are missing; the closest cousin I can think of is the Thai Kaffir lime. Originating in a place called Rangpur in Bangladesh; I doubt this lemon grows anywhere else apart from West Bengal or Assam in India. Today I see this citrus fruit making an appearance in quite a few restaurant menus, and it makes me happy that people outside the Bengali community are now becoming familiar with this. And justifiably so after all its name literally translates to the king of fragrance and the fragrance is something to die for.

When we were kids I remember, lunch would always be served with a slice of gondhoraj on the side on the plate, and anything with a few drops of the lemon, would taste sublime. Growing up I never knew that this lemon is not available in the rest of the country and now the more I have stayed away from Kolkata, more I have learned to love Bengali cuisine, and more I miss this quintessential Bengali lemon. So this time when I went to Kolkata for my annual sojourn I came back with a few of these precious gondhoraj lemons. And apart from just enjoying them like that; I was in search for a recipe to incorporate the brilliance of these lemons.

I remember watching a you tube video of somebody cooking a chicken dish using gondhoraj, this dish is inspired from there, my version of the gondhoraj chicken. It’s a light summery chicken with lots of lemony acidic broth and tastes amazing with steamed rice. So here’s the recipe:


Chicken 500 Gms

Juice of one onion, inch of ginger, two green chilies and 5 cloves of garlic

1 cup of curd

½ tsp coriander powder

Half regular lemon

1 gondhoraj lemon

Few gondhoraj lemon leaves (I didn’t have the leaves so used kaffir lime leaves)

2-3 cardamom pods

Refined oil-1 tbsp

Salt & sugar as per taste

Clarified butter or ghee for cooking

First marinate the chicken, add half a cup of the curd to the chicken. Make a paste of the onion, garlic, ginger and the chilies in the grinder and strain them in a strainer to take out the juices. You can add a little water to help strain. Add this juice to the chicken.

Gondhoraj Lebu Chicken

Gondhoraj Lebu Chicken

Also add the regular lemon and the gondhoraj lemon juice to the marinate. Before juicing the gondhoraj, scrap some zest from the gondhoraj, put half in the marinated mixture, save the rest for later. Then add the coriander powder, salt and the oil; mix everything together, and let the same marinate for an hour.

Heat the ghee in a wok, add the cardamom, and once it crackles add the chicken. Brown the chicken well on both sides. Add the gondhoraj leaves/kaffir lime leaves along with the marinade mixture. Add half a cup of water for the gravy. Add the remaining curd and the lemon zest. Put salt and sugar as per taste. Bengali cuisine we add usually a bit of sugar, in this case probably a quarter of teaspoon will be enough, to balance the taste. It creates a sense of balance between the flavours and is not really to sweeten the dish.

Fold everything together, and cook covered till the chicken is cooked. You can increase or decrease the water depending on the amount of gravy you want in the dish.

Gondhoraj Lebu Chicken

Gondhoraj Lebu Chicken

P.S. Just found out a seller in who will deliver gondhoraj lemons in Mumbai, yippee!!



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