This month too, I am participating in the Shh Cooking Secretly Challenge. Our state of the month is the largest state of India, Rajasthan, which is located in the northern side. It is home to largest desert in India, as well as many historical monuments and a rich culture. The name of the state when literally translated means “the land of kings” and if you have a look at the history of the state, it surely stays truthful to its name! The state has a robust tourism industry and is a place that is usually on the top end list for destination weddings – the recent famous one being Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, due to the presence of many castles fit for movies.
The Jaisalmer Chana and the Panchmel Dal are the Rajasthani recipes already on the blog. The beauty of the cuisine of this state is due to its climatic conditions, the food is such that it uses minimal ingredients and even minimal water. It is a epitome of “cooking with what is available” and “cooking what stays fresh for days”. The cuisine is a mix of Marwari influence – that can be seen in their vegetarian cooking – and the Rajput influence, who were mainly non-vegetarians. Dal Bhati Churma and Kachoris are very synonymous to their cooking, so are sweet dishes like Ghevar. The majority population are vegetarians, in fact, it is said that Rajasthan has the largest vegetarian population in the whole of India.
I am paired with Ashima for this challenge, who herself is a Rajasthan native. I am thankful to have had her, since she was very cooperative and help me choose the ingredients and the recipes as well. However, I ended up cooking something apart from what we had discussed, since the ingredients she gave me – cumin and ghee – were also used in this amazing dish that I ended up discovering called “Safed Maas”.
“Safed Maas” means “white meat”. The dish has heavy Rajput influence. This is said to be prepared when they catch any animal in the wild. The specialty of the dish is definitely its off white color, due to the use of rich ingredients like nuts and cream. It is also called as khorma in many Rajasthani households. As you may see while reading through the ingredients, this dish is truly reserved for occasions. Initially, I had thought of preparing the “Laal Maas”, which is a fiery red mutton curry but in turn ended up making this dish, due to its simplicity and also knowing that my family would accept this more.
As is usual while scouring through the recipes on Google, I found so many variants of this recipe and it left me totally confused. Finally, I decided to use the ingredients that were common in all the recipes. Onion, cashew nuts, cardamom and ginger is an integral part of this gravy. Cream can be switched to yogurt for a lighter version. I have used a mix of milk and cream, and would have added yogurt if I had it in my pantry. For the spice quotient, I have used dry red chillies though you can very well use chopped green chillies instead of it.
Even though it sounds very complicated, in fact it is quite an easy gravy to make. The only time consumed is getting the mutton cooked and keeping ready the paste. The rest of the gravy comes together in no time. This is definitely a gravy to be included into your party menu along with Butter Chicken and the Malaiwala Murg I cooked for the Punjab challenge last month. I served it along with jeera rice but this would be amazing with chapathis or some roomali roti. It didn’t take time to disappear from the pan and was truly relished. As you move on to the recipe, do check out what Ashima cooked from the ingredients I gave her for the challenge…
- 500 gm mutton pieces, washed and drained
- FOR PASTE:
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 10 cashews, soaked in water for 15 minutes
- 10 almonds, soaked in water for 15 minutes
- FOR GRAVY:
- 2 tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cardamoms, crushed
- 3 dry red chillis, torn (refer notes)
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tbsp cream
- 1 tsp white pepper powder (as per spice level)
- Salt to taste
- Add the washed mutton and salt in a pressure cook. Pressure cook for three whistles on high flame and on simmer for 10 minutes. Switch off and allow the pressure to go on its own.
- Grind the onion and nuts into a smooth paste and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat ghee. Splutter cumin. Add the whole spices and dry chilli and saute for a few seconds.
- Add the onion and saute till wilted. Do not brown.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and cook till raw smell is gone.
- Add in the ground paste along with some water (I pour into the jar and swirl it) and cook till there is no raw smell.
- Now add the mutton along with all its stock and cook for five minutes.
- Add in the cream and milk and give a good toss. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes.
- Now add the pepper and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot with rice or naan.