Laal Maas – Rajasthani Red Lamb Curry

Rajasthani  Laal Maas, Fiery red as if someone who cooked it was really angry, and popped the entire stash of red chili powder in the curry, is what you feel when you have a first look at the dish.

Laal maans   “red mutton” is a meat curry from Rajasthan. It is a mutton curry prepared in yoghurt and hot RED MATHANIA chilies. This non-vegetarian recipe tastes exotic and has a unique flavour of pure ghee. Usually served on special occasions

Chef Bulai Swain said that: “Traditionally, Laal Maas was made with wild game meat, such as boar or deer and chilies were used to veil the gamy odour of the meat. It was a favourite among the royalties. While the spicy flavour is remained intact now, the meat used is tender mutton.”

Laal maas is fiery, yet flavourful It doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, but you will be surprised at how these ingredients work together and take your taste buds to a different world!

What makes Laal Maas different from other mutton curries?

Well, almost everything! It doesn’t use the regular tangy ingredients to add the acidity. So no tomatoes, lemon juice or tamarind. It is the thick, creamy yogurt that also brings in the tangy touch and of course, the dry chilies that adds all the character to the meat.

Mathania Chilies if you have seen Ketan Mehta’s 1987 classic, Mirch Masala, starring Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil movie you must have come across this spice. Mathania have been traditionally cultivated in an ancient village named Mathania, which is located 33km from the Jodhpur airport, and their bright red pigment was used in the past to colour the locally produced malmal. But Mathania’s chili production has seen a sharp decline because of dropping groundwater levels and the malmal factory shutting down many years ago. A revival of interest in Lal Maas may just turn around the fate of these chilies!

It is said all Kings in Rajasthan used to have more than 10 Khansamas (Chef’s) & when the kings went hunting out Of the 10 khansamas, only a handful – usually the finest – accompanied the hunting party to cook for them, and with bare minimum ingredients, which was chilies, garlic and yogurt. Water was rationed, and was rarely enough for the Khansamas to make anything substantial, so many worked around the two best ingredients available to them, namely yogurt and garlic with chillies to spice it up.

A usual hunting party would begin with an early day walk into the wildlife, where with much fanfare the kill would happen – usually a pig, boar, rabbit or a bird. This would be then sent to the hunting kitchen on horsebacks to be cleaned, marinated and readied for the evening dinner, while the hunting party made its way back on elephants picking smaller games like a quail.

It is said that it was a standing instruction at most hunting camps that when the royal party arrived from the hunt, there should be no smell of the hunt. Blood, feathers and the smell of raw meat was a sin. The Rajasthani Suda was a result of such an order, where the back leg of a raan was put on open charcoal to cook after being rubbed with spices with occasional basting of the ghee. In fact, it is the ghee tadka that gave it the name ‘suda’. Another innovation was the Kaleji Ka Raita, a subtle yet fragrant yogurt preparation with liver in it. This incidentally were few dishes that became a lunch staple before the elaborate evening meal spread. These became proof that the Khansamas knew their meat – which formed 90% of the Rajput meals — well.

When the dish is made, a cup with a burning piece of charcoal infused with cloves and desi ghee is placed on top of the preparation and the utensil is sealed. The smoke of the burning charcoal redolent of the aromas of desi ghee and cloves just elevates what was once the staple of hunting parties and is now a global celebrity.

This dish typically is very hot and rich in garlic, the gravy may be thick or liquid and is eaten with chapatis made out of wheat (usually eaten in summers) or Bajra (millet grown in Rajasthan and eaten in the winter months).

Chef’s Ingredients for Laal Maas Recipe

  1.  Mutton cut into 1 inch pieces 1 Kg
  2.  Mathania Chilies / Kashmiri red chilies soaked 6-8
  3.  Yogurt 1 cup
  4.  Turmeric powder 1/2 teaspoon
  5.  Coriander powder 2 teaspoons
  6.  Ginger-garlic paste 3 tablespoons
  7.  Ghee 4 tablespoons
  8.  Black cardamoms 2
  9.  Green cardamoms 3-4
  10.  Cinnamon 1 inch stick
  11.  Cloves 3-4
  12.  Bay leaf 2
  13.  Onions finely chopped 4 medium

 # Salt to taste

 # Coriander sprig for garnishing

 # Lemon wedges for garnishing

 # Charcoal 2-3 pieces

 # Serve: 4

 # Taste: Spicy

 

Let’s unfold the petals for preparing Lal Maas

  • Rinse the mutton under running water in a large bowl and Grind the soaked chilies to a fine paste in a blender.
  • Take a mixing bowl and add the mutton pieces, 2 table spoon ginger garlic paste, red chili paste, yogurt, turmeric Powder, coriander powder and some salt to taste. Coat the mutton pieces well with the marinade and keep the bowl for over 2 hours in freezer.
  • Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed handi over medium flame and add black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves and sauté till its fragrant.
  • Now, add the chopped onions and saute them very well till they turn golden brown in colour, add the remaining ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute
  • Add the marinated mutton to the onions and sauté on high heat for five minutes.
  • Now add salt and sufficient water to cover all the mutton pieces. On low heat cover the handi with a lid and let the meat simmer in the spices for a good two hours or till the meat is done. The simmering on low flame makes the meat tender and ensures that meat to absolutely melt in the mouth.
  • Meanwhile light the piece of charcoal, place it in a small metal bowl and place the bowl in the centre of handi.
  • Add two to three cloves to the coal, pour some ghee and quickly cover with a lid and set aside for two to three minutes. Put the curry back on heat and give a quick stir before removing from heat.
  • Your Laal Maas is now ready, transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Garnish with coriander sprigs and a lemon wedge. Serve hot with roti or naan.
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