Monday, July 11, 2011

Ghongura Mutton - Mutton Curry with Sorrel Leaves

While a language can be the best medium of communication, choice and order of words could easily alter the intended meaning and mis-interpret one’s purpose. My post marriage exploration of Bengali language has been fun and a few goof-ups that I did are inseparable from my memory. People ask me how I learnt Bengali so quick! The secret to it was simple. I kept speaking it irrespective of it being broken or mis-pronounced. Because, people around me would correct the mistakes and I learnt with every incorrect sentence. Imitating Ma (my MIL) also accelerated the process as she narrates the same stories to each person atleast 100 times and I almost memorized her unperturbed and unaltered speeches!

It was one of those initial months of marriage and I was asked to speak to Abbas’ aunt who was going to visit us the next day. I kicked off easily as I had mastered the ‘How are you?’, ‘I’m fine’ business in Bengali flawlessly by then. I then went a bit overboard and thought of asking her to come for lunch the next day. I confidently uttered – “Apni kalke khete ashben to?” I could hear chuckles and giggles around me and I wondered what was wrong. It was later when I hung up the phone that I came to know that what I asked her literally meant – “Are you coming to eat tomorrow?” What an embarrassment!
Why I am talking about all this while I post this Mutton curry here? I again messed up with the language even after 5 years of my Bong quest. But this time I was proficient enough to see the wrong usage of my words and immediately corrected myself. Abbas fondly asked me to cook Mutton curry for dinner that night. And as usual I wanted it to be something different than the version I already have in my blog (Talk about agonies of a food blogger) I thought of preparing it the same way but adding Ghongura or Sorrel leaves to make it a new post in my blog. Ma heard my conversation with Abbas and knew that I was gonna cook Mutton in a way even her ancestors might have never dreamt of… While I was busy sautéing the Mutton and Potatoes, she came in whiffing in the air and said “Kisher ekta gondho asche… Shaag dichho na ki?” Meaning “I smell something strange, are you adding greens?” I was just cleaning the greens by then. Guess what I told her “Apnar moner moddhye gondho ache…” Meaning “The stink is in your mind”. Shockingly she asked if her mind stinks??? I came to know that I had put across my words wrongly yet again!!! I instantly (and politely this time) said No I meant that since you already know that I am adding greens to Mutton, it is just your presumption about the smell. I have still not cleaned the Sorrel leaves. She got my point and I was relieved!!! Sigh…

Going to the recipe:

Mutton – 1 kg
Tomatoes – 1 medium sized, chopped
Potatoes – 5-6 medium sized, peeled and cut into halves.
Curd – 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 4 tbsp
Sorrel leaves / Ghongura leaves – 1 bunch, pluck leaves and thoroughly wash a couple of times

To grind to a paste:
Onion – 3 medium sized
Ginger – 2” piece
Garlic – 7-8 pods

For the masala powder:
Red chillies – 10-15
Coriander – 1 tbsp
Cumin – 2 tsp
Cardamom – 2-3
Cloves – 4-5
Cinnamon – 1” stick


1. Marinate the mutton with onion-ginger-garlic paste, curd, turmeric powder and salt and keep in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 mins, the longer the better.

2. Dry roast the ingredients called for under the masala powder head and grind them to a fine powder. (I microwave the masalas instead on high for a min)

3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add a tsp of salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. Drop in potato pieces on a high flame. Stir for 2-3 mins. Lower the flame and cook covered till the potatoes turn golden on all sides. Remove them from the oil and keep aside.

4. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and add the marinated meat along with chopped tomatoes and cook on a low flame. The meat gets cooked in its own juices. Occasionally stir and cook till all the water gets evaporated from the mutton and oil oozes out from the sides. This process might take an hour even.

5. Now combine the mutton, fried potatoes, washed Sorrel / Ghongura leaves and the masala powder in a pressure cooker. Add water to suit your desired consistency. You may adjust salt at this stage. Pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles.

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  1. Interesting and amusing anecdote. The mutton looks absolutely delicious. Ghongura leaves? If I am not mistaken it is eaten in southern India right?

  2. Thanks Shilpi. Yes, Ghongura leaves are widely used in telugu cuisine. They are sour in taste...

  3. Wow, mutton curry looks so tempting and the beautiful rich colour of the dish..yummy!


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