Happy Durga Puja to all! As a Bengali, I always take pride to talk about the rich culinary heritage of Bengal. Our Bengali dishes are appreciated worldwide for their variety and flavour. Bengali cuisine is refined. We have mouth-watering Bengali street food, and this includes our rustic Phuchka, Jhal Muri and Alur chop. The traditional Bengali recipes pamper the ingredients a lot: be it vegetables, fish, egg or meat. Food is so much a part of our festivities! On Durga Puja, during the day we worship the Goddess and eat strictly vegetarian temple food (which doesn’t even have onion and garlic, and is delicious!), but at night, there are no rules for a modern Bong (Bengali). We often go overboard with scrumptious street-food stalls selling Mughlai Paratha, Mochar Chop, Chicken Cutlets, Kosha Mangsho with Luchi, and so on.
Today is Mahashoshthi: the sixth day of Navratras and Durga Puja. The festivities began yesterday with Anondomela. The Anondomela is a food event associated with Durga Puja. It is generally celebrated on the fourth (Chaturthi) or fifth day (Panchami) of Durga Puja. It is a fun, homely gathering, where Bengali ladies cook food from home and sell their dishes.
This year, I contributed to the Juhu Sarbojanin Durgotsav Anondomela with my Kosha Mangsho dish. Kosha Mangsho is very popular among Bengalis and the very mention of this dish is enough for a Bengali to start dreaming about it and drooling. My Kosha Mangsho was slow-cooked for 2 hours. Slow-cooking allows you to keep a tab on the tenderness of the mutton. Alternately, you may pressure-cook the dish to save time, but in that case you have to add extra amount of water to the cooker to avoid the mutton getting burnt. You have to then dry the liquid again in a kadhai, after the mutton is pressure-cooked. I find cooking for 2 hours on a simmered flame rather easier and the meat turns out to be tastier. Well, I don’t have to stand in the kitchen for 2 hours for cooking this dish. I just have to sauté the contents of the cooking utensil once in every 10 minutes. So in 2 hours, I can actually finish a lot of other household work, while the Kosha Mangsho is simmering to perfection. This Bengali delicacy is better if it is spicy. Adding red chilli powder is a must. I generally prefer adding a dollop of ghee towards the end for that extra aroma and flavour. Addition of ghee towards the end of the cooking works wonders with many Bengali dishes: this is the secret which Bengali thakumas and mashimas often don’t reveal!
I am glad that my 3 kg Kosha Mangsho was sold out in just 20 minutes, and people still kept coming back asking for more! J
Kosha Mangsho (Slow-cooked Bengali-style mutton with spices)
[Always use young goat meat for this recipe. The front thighs are great for this recipe, although adding pieces from other parts (like ribs and ears) will add variety. Since this is a recipe with 3 kg mutton, we have used two large kadhais to cook the Kosha Mangsho. Cooking in two utensils simultaneously will ensure that all the mutton pieces get enough heat and spices. If using commercially available ginger and garlic pastes, do reduce the amount of salt in the recipe according to your taste. If using tomato ketchup instead of tomato puree, omit the sugar in the recipe. ]
Mutton with bones: 3 kg
Curd (yogurt): 400 g
Salt: 3 +2.5 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1.5 + 1 tsp
Red chilli powder: 3.5 tsp
Ginger paste: 2.5 tbsp
Garlic paste: 3 tbsp
Mustard oil: 1.5 cups
Thinly sliced onions: almost ½ kg
Bay leaves: 3
Garam masala powder: 2 tbsp
Cumin powder: 3 tsp
Coriander powder: 4 tsp
Marinade (the liquid left after two hours of marinating the mutton): ¾ cup
Ghee: 4 tbsp
Tomato puree: 1.5 cups
Sugar: 1 tsp
For the Kosha Mangsho marinade, mix together the following in a bowl: curd, 3 tsp salt, 1.5 tsp turmeric powder, ginger and garlic pastes and just half the amount of the red chilli powder. Marinate the mutton pieces with this mixture for two hours. After two hours, collect the extra liquid and the marinade from the pieces in a small bowl. The liquid/marinade will be roughly 3/4th of a small bowl. Reserve this marinade for cooking.
Add equal amounts of mustard oil in two large kadhais. When the oil starts smoking, add the sliced onions to the kadhais. Add the rest of the salt (2.5 tsp) and 1 tsp turmeric powder to the kadhais. Sauté over a medium flame for 20 min, or until the onions are almost mushy.
Add the rest of the chilli powder and the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 10 min. The tomatoes will also be very soft after 10 min.
Now add the Garam masala powder and the cumin and coriander powders. Sprinkle some water and sauté continuously until the contents in the kadhai start releasing oil. Ensure that the masalas don’t get burnt at this stage, otherwise the Kosha Mangsho will taste bitter.
Add the reserved marinade to the kadhai and sauté until the liquid evaporates. Add the mutton pieces to the two kadhais. Mix well and cover the kadhais. Simmer the flame. After every 10 min, stir the mutton. Cover again. Continue to cook like this for 2 hours, adding ½ cup of water after every 30 min. At the end of 2 hours, the meat should be tender, succulent and almost fall-off-the-bone. After 2 hours, the liquid in the kadhais should have evaporated. If not, cook for some more time, until the liquid evaporates and the meat is tender.
Now add the tomato paste and ghee. Cook for 10 min. Kosha Mangsho is best enjoyed with Luchi or Polao (pulav or pilaf), rather than steamed rice, since this dish ideally doesn’t have any gravy. Enjoy the mahabhoj!