Mutton Korma

Spice is the key behind every Indian dish and towards the Northern side of the country, you are likely to find a huge Mughlai-influence on the food you eat. Mughlai food is, basically, the type of cuisine that was brought in by the Muslim invaders of India, in the 12th Century. The food they ate was rich, spicy and mainly non-vegetarian. Goat meat is more popular in India as compared to Lamb, which makes for longer cooking times. However, if you want, you can always replace mutton with lamb and adjust your cooking times accordingly.

A relatively simple dish, there is very little actual-cooking that you need to do to make Mutton Korma in the comforts of your home. The magic lies in the preparation and if you have that part down pat, more than half your work's done!

Ingredients required for Mutton Korma

Here is a list of the ingredients you need to get started:

- Mutton - 1/2 Kg
- Ginger Paste - 2 Tablespoons
- Garlic Paste - 2 Tablespoons
- Oil
- Clarified Butter
- Onions - 4
- Black Cardamom - 3
- Green Cardamom - 6
- Cloves - 8
- Cinnamon - 3 to 4 sticks
- Bay Leaf - 2 to 3
- Black Pepper - 2 Tablespoon
- Cumin Seeds - 1 Teaspoon
- Black Cumin Seeds - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Nutmeg Powder - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Mace Powder - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Coriander Powder - 1 Teaspoon
- Salt
- Red Chilli Powder - 2 Teaspoon
- Yogurt - 1 Cup
- Garam Masala - 1 Tablespoon
- Green Chillies - 4
- Coriander Leaves - For Garnish
- Cashews - For Garnish
- Raisins - For Garnish

Preparing the Ingredients for cooking

Mutton Korma is a dish where almost all of the cooking happens at the same time, in the same vessel. As a result, you don't really need to do much in terms of preparation. The only things you need to do are:

- Chop the onions
- Chop the green chillies

This is a dish where the mutton does not need to be marinated so the preparation time is, literally, the same as it takes for you to gather all the things you need.

Let's start cooking our Mutton Korma

Mutton Korma is a one-pot wonder, which means that everything cooks in the same dish and you don't need to worry about losing any of the flavour from any of the ingredients. There are, as always, different types of vessels you can use as per what is available to you but something like a pressure cooker will do just as well as a Dutch Oven or even a pan that, later, can be placed inside an oven:

- The first thing to do is put your vessel onto the flame and let it heat up - add a bit of oil and clarified butter to it
- Once the oil and butter starts smoking, add the onions, with a bit of salt, and fry until the onions are brown
- Once the onions are done, take them out and let them cool down on the side, a process that should make them crisp
- Take the same pan - do not wipe or wash it to retain flavour - and add more oil and clarified butter to it
- Add the mutton and fry until the meat is seared and starts changing colour - this should take about 10-minutes on medium heat
- Add the ginger paste and garlic paste and let it cook for another 10-minutes.
- Once the meat is cooked, whisk the yogurt and start adding it slowly to the vessel, one tablespoon or so at a time. Incorporate the yogurt with the contents of the vessel by stirring constantly until the entire yogurt has been added to the mutton
- Continue to cook the mutton until you notice the oil and water being released by the meat
- Now, add the coriander powder, salt, chillies, and bay leaves and continue cooking on a medium heat
- Add the crispy onions and continue cooking on a low heat until the meat begins sliding off the bone or is tender and breaking easily
- Add in the Mace Powder, Nutmeg Powder and all the remaining spices to the vessel. Feel free to crush the Cardamom pods before adding them in. Adding them at this stage lends a certain freshness to the dish in terms of flavour and fragrance of the spices
- Finally, add about a tablespoon of clarified butter and when the clarified butter starts spluttering, add the Garam Masala powder
- If you like gravy with your Mutton Korma, which is the traditional way of preparing the dish, then add some hot water. Add as much water as you would like and reduce it to get a thicker, creamier gravy
- Once you get the gravy to your preferred consistency, cover the lid and allow the dish to cook for a few more minutes. After a few minutes, shut off the gas and let the meat sit with the closed lid, where it will continue to rest and steam within the closed vessel
- Serve with Indian breads or white rice

Traditionally, Mutton Korma has been cooked in a process called "Dum" wherein, right at the end, the lid is sealed shut with a paste of flour. This helps seal the vessel and lets the meat cook and rest in its own juices. This is required to make mutton tender, although you might not need to do this with lamb. Also, with modern utensils and pans, you might not need to Dum-cook your mutton due to the quality of lids that come with them.

There are some other, smaller, things to remember that might help you with the cooking process. If, at any point, it seems that the mutton or the masalas are burning or catching to the bottom of the pan, add a bit of hot water to deglaze the bottom and continue the cooking process.

The other thing is about the gradual addition of yogurt. While you can also add in the yogurt at one go, the texture of gradually-added yogurt will be vastly different from what you get when you add it all at once. Try out both and see which one you prefer!

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