Monday, 15 December 2014

Mutton Aamsol and why A is the best host ever

Being an ideal guest is not easy. Being an ideal host is difficult still. Above all it is tricky. Especially in these insanely busy and taxing times we live in, having guests at home, can only add to the stress. I travel considerably and have stayed with quite a few friends and relatives on my trips. They have all been good hosts is differing degrees,but Angona, my friend I went to Pune to visit, has by far been the best host ever. Here's why

1. My holiday was her priority too
I received a mail a week prior to my trip from A. The Subject Line read "Your Pune Itinerary". The mail comprised a beautiful plan for my week in Pune down to the slightest detail. And it included everything I had expressed a desire to do, on my holiday, in my previous conversations with A. And also a few special treats thrown in from her end. In effect we strayed from that itinerary ever so often, doing things impromptu really. But what that mail meant to me was something different. The mail was like a confirmation that my visit was something my host was looking forward to. I mean come on I was going to turn her life upside down, raid her fridge, wear her makeup, dribble on her pillows, etc etc. But here she was putting in real effort to make my holiday a success. It is a warm feeling. Considering the fact that she had to go to work and go through 8 sometime 10 hour stints at office and take care of mundane responsibility, it couldn't have been easy.

2. Because, she was as enthusiastic about my trip as I was, if not more. 
I could trust A to return from a ten-hour stint in office and suggest we go and check out that restaurant someone had been raving about. No she didn't say "let's stay home because I am tired." I might have said that a few times, not A. The thing is it is not difficult to understand that after a busy day at work one might feel like chilling at home, and had A felt like it I wouldn't mind at all. But no A is hard, party harder, eat hardest! The kind I dig really. 

And she is fine with taking crazy selfies even if she hasn;t slept for 24 hours straight! 

3. Because she respected my space. 
I was staying at her house and I was only keen on doing things her way but I didn't have to. I never felt obligated or compelled to give her company while she was in the house. And while she treated me with utmost care, I was like staying in your own house. We were like flatmates, only I wasn't sharing the bills. And she never said "Have you not come to see me, why are you on the laptop?" or "Why are you on the phone for so long?" But at the same time we had a great time together and had some brilliant conversation, and bonded famously without suffocating one another. (Ummm here I am assuming I didn't, but that's ok. Not that she'll tell me if I did..Buhahaha)

4. She did not over do it, and at the same time took care of every little thing 
No she didn't hover on me all the time, She made hosting look effortless. A took it easy, but made sure I had everything I need. The fridge was stocked and how, so was the pantry, I had access to her kitchen too so I could cook anything I wanted, a local number to call from, contact details for people and services I might need. All this after the assurance that she was only  a call away. And the most endearing bit - she would make time to call in the middle of the day to make sure I was ok. Gestures that matter.  

5. She cooked me amazing food! 
And finally and most importantly, A is a brilliant cook. While we ate out a million times during my say in Pune, the meals A cooked were by far the most delightful. So, on the day of my arrival the lunch that awaited me comprised spicy Marathi egg curry which I savoured with obscene amount of rice and a gorgeous roasted raan with a side of ajwain parathas. The meal was the final confirmation that this holiday was going to be one of the best I had had. And it was. Another time she cooked me a subtly spiced, light and hearty chicken curry tempered with nigella seeds, which was finger licking good and forced me once again to stuff myself silly. But A had reserved the best for the end. 

Marathi Egg Curry;Raan;Amsol Pork

So, it was my last weekend in Pune. And we had plan. The idea was to get sloshed and dance the night away. The music list look promising. But there couldn't be a party without food. A of course volunteered to cook. She had promised to cook me some pork and she did. A had learnt to cook the dish - Pork Amsol, a dish of Goan origin - from a friend and as far as I am concerned she nailed the dish.A light, gorgeously fragrant pork stew cooked with amsol, popularly known as kokum. That evening I decided I did not want alcohol. I couldn't not know what I was eating when the dish in question was A's Pork Amsol. And ever since my return home I have thought about it numerous times. Finally yesterday, I decided to make it at home for the folks. And they say it was one of the best Sunday meals they have had in a long time. 

For personal and religious reasons we do not cook pork in our kitchen at home. My parents do not eat pork either. So, I replicated the dish with mutton/goat meat. Purists might cringe their nose but trust me the Amsol Mutton was nothing short of fabulous. Experimenting in the kitchen is fun, but nailing a classic on the first go is pure ecstacy. The dish is cooked without a single drop of oil. Yes you read it right. Not one drop. However, the meat should have some fat. The ingredients are simple and your manual labour is limited to not more than 7-10 minutes. It is one of the simplest dishes there is and in its simplicity is its glory. Yes it is easy to make but because it is so simple, you must handle the dish delicately.


Mutton - 1 kilo 
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp 
Peppercorns - 1 tbsp 
Dry red chilies- 10 
Green chilies - 10 (whole)
Onions (thinly sliced) - 6 (medium sized) 
Garlic cloves - 15 (medium sized)
Kokum/amsol - 10-12
Salt to taste 
A pinch of sugar 
Tamarind pulp - 2 tbsp (or to taste)


Place your pressure cooked on heat. Once it is hot reduce heat and add the cumin and peppercorns. Lightly roast them. 

Once the cumin is fragrant, add the dry red chilies and green chilies. Stir around for a few seconds. 

Add the onions, garlic cloves and stir until onions begins sweating.  Add tamarind pulp diluted in half cup water. 

Also add the kokum/amsol now 

A minute later add the meat, fry for abour 5 minutes. Add salt, a pinch of sugar and about 2 cups water. 

Pressure cook for about 7 minutes on high flame (2 whistles!) and then reduce flame and pressure cook for about 15 minutes. Do not let the steam out immediately. Let the meat rest for about 5-7  minutes while before you serve it...piping hot. 

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