Thursday, 16 October 2014

Southern style Mutton Fry

The other day I went out to eat with the family. After the customary protracted debate bordering on a heated argument, we decided that our eat-out destination for the evening would be Tamarind, a South India specialty restaurant in town. I insisted we go there and I usually get my way. I was craving some Southern flavours and I am crazy about their Kodi Amaravathi. My uncles, hardly an experimental diner, declared he had lost his appetite. He is one of those people who think South Indian cuisine is all about Idli, dosa and uttapam. He has had little exposure to the deliciousness that is Southern cuisines. I gritted my teeth and sat there in the backseat listening to his rant. The only consolation, I was sure he would convert by the end of the evening. 

At Tamarind we ordered for an obscene amount of food. As we kept on adding to the list, the waiter, after hesitating a couple of times, finally blurted out, "Are you sure? That's more than enough for 8 people" The manager, a rotund man with a grim face, glared at him. My father told the waiter that with this family there was nothing like enough food. Bring it on we said. 

The best part of dining at Tamarind is the spiced buttermilk they serve as a complement. I never stop at a single glass. This time was no exception. Anyway, for starters we ordered for Chicken 65, deep-fried chicken with a slight crunch and loads of spices, Kodi Amaravathi, succulent chicken supreme laced in a fiery mix of spices, Kuzhi Paniyaram, shallow fried dumplings made of a fermented rice and lentil batter and Coorg Mutton Fry. The Coorg Mutton Fry was a revelation. Chunks of juicy meat subtly spiced with cloves, coriander and peppercorns and tossed with curry leaves, which melt in your mouth literally. We ordered for second rounds of the Kodi Amaravathi and the Coorg Mutton Fry, much to our waiter's...ummm let's say horror. 

For the mains, we ordered for the classic Chettinad chicken, a chicken curry made wit special Chettinad spices, the mildly spicy Malabar chicken and Veinchina Mamsam, an Andhra style mutton curry. While I was placing the order, my father kept repeating that he wanted to have some thing really spicy for the mains. He said on one of his trips to Hyderabad, 20 years ago, he had this Andhra style chili chicken he still salivates over. He said it was a disappointment that Tamarind didn't serve the dish. So I granted him his wish and added to the order an Andhra specialty that came with not one, not two, but three chilies (yeah the tiny chili signs) on the menu card. Mirappakai Kodi. I have never had something as hot, except for that Ema Datshi (Bhutanese cheese chili curry). My uncle declared that this dish could be used as a mode of torture is high profile criminal investigations. My father kept eating quietly, wiping his nose and eyes every few seconds. 

Finally for dessert we had Double Ka Meetha!  finish,And though we throughly enjoyed the dinner, from start to fish, including the drama triggered by the Mirappakai Kodi,  the star of the evening was by far the Coorg Mutton Fry. I have still not gotten over those chunks of meat dripping juices. I have been thinking about the dish since morning, and then I decided to make some mutton fry myself. The recipe is inspired by southern cuisines, but done my way. It is downright delicious. 


Mutton - 500 g
Star anise - 3
Vinegar- 100 ml
Finely chopped garlic - 2 tbsp
Finely chopped ginger - 2 tbsp
Finely hopped onion - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves - 2 stalks
Cilantro leaves (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Chopped green chilies - 3 tbsp (or to taste)
Grated coconut - 1 cup (loosely packed)
Salt to taste
Mutton stock - 300 ml


Marinate the meat with vinegar, minced papaya and salt for 4-6 hours. 

Heat oil in a pan, add the meat, followed by star anise and the finely chopped garlic, ginger and onions. Fry on high heat for a few minutes. 

Now add the curry leaves, chopped green chilies and half the coriander leaves and continue to fry. Keep de-glazing the pan with meat stock, a ladle at a time, scraping off the caramelised bits sticking to the pan, and continue frying the meat on low heat. 

When the meat is almost tender add the grated coconut and the remaining coriander leaves and continue frying for another 15 minutes. 

Once the meat is tender, coconut has acquired colour and the juices dried, remove from heat and serve hot. 

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