Sep 29, 2015
The festival of Bakri Eid or Bakrid was celebrated a few days ago. All the talk about mutton here in Mumbai made me nostalgic about my favourite mutton dishes from Kolkata.
Mutton, as goat meat is known in India, is very popular among Bengalis across communities in Kolkata. When a Bengali says mangsho or meat, he means mutton. The rest are qualified such as murgir manghsho (chicken), kochhoper mangsho (tortoise, which was available in the markets till the early 80s) and so on.
The love for mutton is not typical just to the Muslim and Anglo-Indian communities of Kolkata. Even the Bengali Hindus love it.
Queuing up outside the local mutton shops was a Sunday ritual, which is still observed in the suburbs of Kolkata. The korta, or man of the house, would bring home the mutton wrapped in newspaper, and get ready for his lunch of mangsher jhol bhaat (mutton curry and rice) before settling in for a siesta.
Pathaboli, or goat sacrifice, is a part of Kali Pujo and the meat is then cooked in a curry in the morning after the puja. Mutton is also served on Nobomi, the penultimate day of Durga pujo, or on Doshomi, the last day.
The nostalgia led me to list my top 5 favourite mutton dishes from back home.
Kosha mangsho: This is a slow-cooked mutton dish with a heavy ground onion and garam masala base. Unlike mangshor jhol, which is a simple domestic dish, this is served at weddings and on special occasions. Kosha Manghso is best paired with luchis or the vegetarian Basonti Pulao. I make it using a pressure cooker though instead of slow cooking it. You will find my recipe here.
Mangshor jhol: The joy of mixing a simple, thin mutton curry with plain rice on a Sunday afternoon is hard to match. Potatoes are a must of course, and often the high point of the dish. Fights often break out over who will get the bone marrow!
Mutton roll: No Kolkatan calls these kathi rolls. Nizam’s is where they are said to have been invented, and mutton was introduced for those who wouldn’t eat beef. The mutton is prepared as kebabs on wooden skewers, and then fried on a flat wok before serving. This is the practice followed in the Muslim-run shops of central Kolkata. In the suburbs, a form of kosha mangsho is used in the rolls rather than kebabs. Apart from Nizam’s, I also like the rolls in Badshah in New Market, and Kusum in Park Street
Mutton rezala: This yoghurt-based dish with a silken sauce is a must with chubby, white rotis in Moghlai restaurants like Nizam’s, Shiraz, Zeeshan and Aminia. It’s fairly easy to make at home, and there are many recipes on the Internet which my wife, a Parsi, has successfully used at home
Mangshor chop: A must in roll shops across Kolkata, Mangshor Chop is a Bengali take on the Western croquette. It consists of spicy minced meat, encased in a shell of mashed potato, covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried. It is served in a thonga, paper packet, doused with red and yellow sauce (tomato and chilli allegedly), and served with chopped onion and cucumber. Roll shop guys are known to skimp on the amount of mutton though as this is a fairly cheap dish
So, what is your favourite mutton dish from Kolkata?
Kalyan is a Mumbai-based food blogger and columnist who loves to travel in search of local tastes. He is at his happiest when eating at small, family-run places. His blog Finely Chopped won the Best Food Blog Award in 2013 and 2014 at the Food Bloggers Association of India awards. He is the lead critic for Mumbai at EazyDiner and is a columnist for Femina. He is also the Chief Chowzter for Mumbai, and conducts food walks in the city.
Follow Kalyan on Twitter @finelychopped