Mutton curry is a dish that is prepared from goat meat (or sometimes lamb meat) and vegetables.
In India, mutton often refers to goat meat instead of sheep and it is cooked in numerous delicious ways. This simple yet delicious version of mutton curry or goat curry is also easy to put together and you can use goat meat or sheep.
The mutton curry was originally prepared by putting all the ingredients together in an earthen pot and slow cooking the whole curry by a wood fire in a clay oven or a tandoor.
The steadily cooked mutton becomes more tender than the normally cooked mutton.
Serve mutton curry with a side of hot steamed rice, rotis, or naan bread.
The legend goes that when Wajid Ali Shah was exiled to Kolkata, his mutton quota, which would be a good five lambs per meal, was hugely reduced.
Shah was an infamous carnivore like the Nawabs before him, which left his khansamah to work on other ingredients that were readily available and were not rationed like potatoes and eggs.
And that’s how the first iterations of the famous Calcutta Biryani and mutton curry were born.
One of the first few dishes to be served in Frontier Mail back in the early 1900s, the Railway Mutton Curry, many believe, was a take on the famous Kolkata Manghso Jhol (mutton curry) that in turn was inspired by Wajid Ali Shah’s mutton korma, given the use of culinary techniques like bhunoo (stir-frying) and that of roasting spices before grounding them into a powder for use.
By the time it reached the street and the kitchens of Bhadrolog (the wealthy), it had changed appearance. One is the addition of vinegar or tamarind to the recipe to give the dish interesting flavour foreplay; and two, give the dish a long shelf life for train journeys.
Folklore has it that a British soldier while travelling First Class, reached the pantry for a midnight snack, following the fragrant aroma weaving and wafting through the corridors.
Taken by surprise, the cook offered him the staff meal of mangsho jhol and a stale dinner roll. Famished as the officer was he burnt his tongue with the first bite.
But before he could raise his voice, the clever cook added coconut milk – though there is a version that says water and curd as well – to the dish, thereby reducing the pungency & heat of the spices.
The officer left the pantry satiated, but on his next visit he simply couldn’t recollect the dish’s name and called it the Railway Mutton Curry, and that’s how the dish got its name.