Shahi Mutton - Royal Mutton

Indian cuisine has a lot of Mughal influence, especially in the northern parts of the country. The Mughals were Muslim rulers who invaded the country sometime during the 12th century. For over 400-years, they were the primary rulers of the country and along with their forces, they brought in their cooking styles. Royal Mutton is about using those age-old cooking techniques, with modern equipment, and creating some brilliant, spicy dishes that are, today, an integral part of Indian cuisine.

The other interesting aspect about this dish is the use of Goat meat or Mutton. Around the world, lamb is the preferred meat of choice due to the soft and juicy nature of the meat. Mutton is considered quite hard and lean, with cooking times going through the roof. However, Mutton has remained a staple-aspect of Indian food and is quite popular despite the richer taste of the meat.

Ingredients required for Shahi Mutton or Royal Mutton

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

- Mutton - 1Kg
- Onions - 2
- Brown Onion Paste - 1/2 Cup
- Tomatoes - 3
- Yogurt - 1 1/2 Cup
- Potatoes - 2
- Ginger Paste - 2 Tablespoon
- Garlic Paste - 2 Tablespoon
- Paste of Coriander & Mint Leaves - 3 Tablespoons
- Cashew Nut Paste - 2 Tablespoons
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tablespoon
- Garam Masala Powder - 2 Tablespoon
- Black Salt - As per your taste
-White Salt - As per your taste

Preparing the Ingredients for cooking

There aren't too many ingredients that require preparation and Royal Mutton is, more or less, a one-pan dish, or should we say a one-pressure cooker dish. Still, there are some small things that need to be done to get ready for the cooking process but you can do them way in advance, ensuring that the actual cooking process really doesn't take too long:

- Puree the tomatoes to a smooth paste
- Marinate the mutton with about 1 Tablespoon oil added to the marinade created by mixing yogurt, white salt, Garam Masala, coriander & mint paste, ginger paste and garlic paste for at least two hours, in the refrigerator, covered with a plastic cling film
- Boil the potatoes and cool them

When it comes to marinating mutton, the longer you keep it in the marinade, the more taste it soaks up. Marinating mutton also helps to tenderize the meat and makes it easier to cook and softer to eat. Ideally, marinate the mutton overnight to get an even better experience.

Let's start cooking our Shahi Mutton or Royal Mutton

Mutton is a meat that takes quite a long while to cook and even then, it doesn't get as tender as lamb. However, the best part about mutton is that you can simply pop it in with other ingredients, into a pressure cooker, and you are, pretty much, done.

- Take a pressure cooker or a Dutch Oven or a deep frying pan and heat about 6-tablespoons of cooking oil
- Once the oil starts smoking, add in the bay leaves and chopped onions and cook until the onion loses its water-content and starts turning translucent
- Add the mutton to the vessel and sear it nicely, colouring all sides - this helps lock the taste inside the mutton and gives it a nice colour when cooked through completely
- After you are happy with the colour of the mutton, add in the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, pureed tomatoes and continue cooking - make sure you are still frying the contents of the vessel and not boiling them, by ensuring that the temperature of the pain is high. If the flame is low and the vessel cools down, it will start boiling the mutton instead of frying it, and boiled mutton will turn grey, something you don't really want
- Let the mutton cook through now until ready - you will know its' ready when the meat starts falling off the bone or starts crumbling easily (in case of boneless pieces)
- Once the mutton is nearly done, add the potatoes and let them cook for a few minutes
- Finally, add the brown onion paste, the cashew paste as well as the Garam Masala and black salt to complete the cooking process
Serve with Indian breads or white rice

The best part about these one-dish recipes is that you never lose any of the flavour of any of the ingredients as everything cooks together, using each others' juices. This always ensures that the flavour is high and you can taste every single ingredient.

Finally, if you like your mutton dishes with a bit of gravy, try adding in a bit of water (not too much though), after the mutton is completely cooked. You can reduce the gravy to the thickness and consistency you desire.

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