As someone who loves a good meal, cooking one, came to me as a natural passion. I belong to a family where meal times consisted of not just food, but also noisy conversation centered around the events of the day and discussing the menu for the next. (ah yes, we are a greedy lot! )

For the most part of my life so far, my contribution in the kitchen was assisting mom and my duties were limited, to chopping veggies and laying the table. Then along came the great Indian wedding, and I was suddenly the queen of my very own kingdom. My curiosity about this magical world, coupled with an enthusiastic sous-chef (my husband, Vineet), led me to take on the challenge of preparing meals on a daily basis, and not succumbing to the convenience of hiring a cook.

This blog is a product of my experiments with food (not all are life threatening :D) for my fellow culinary enthusiasts - especially the newly weds and hungry bachelors and is dedicated to the women who've inspired me in the kitchen;
Aji (s),Ma and Nigella Lawson.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Malaysian Mutton Rendang

Cuisine from Malaysia shares a surprising lot on common with its neighboring Thailand.

The most commonly used ingredients of Thai food as I have come to know them (having eaten copious amounts of it!) are Lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and Coconut milk... pretty much equivalents to what Curry leaves (kadipatta), Turmeric and Garam masala are to Indian food.
Marry these Thai ingredients to the Indian influences of Malay food and, Voila! you have Rendang!

Traditionally, this curry is made with beef, but I used fresh boneless mutton instead. Although the prep time is all of 10 minutes, the cook time for this delicious curry is a little generous... almost 2 hours...since it involves slow cooking the mutton in the spices. So plan accordingly if you're thinking of serving this for a dinner party :) This recipe is quantified for 2 persons.

- 500 g boneless Mutton, fat trimmed
- 1 large Onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves Garlic, sliced
- 1" Ginger, sliced
- 2-3 dried Red Chillies
- 1 stalk Lemongrass, bruised & sliced

- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Coriander seeds, roasted & powdered
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds, roasted & powdered
- 5-6 Kaffir Lime leaves
- 1-1/2 cups Coconut milk, low fat
- 1 tsp Tamarind pulp
- 2-3 tbsp Soy sauce
- 1 medium potato, peeled & cubed
- Salt, to taste

1.) Cut the mutton into curry sized pieces and place in a bowl.

2.) Grind: Sliced Onion + garlic + ginger + turmeric + dried red chillies+ sliced lemongrass + 2-3 lime leaves , to a fine paste using about 1/4 cup of warm-ish water.

Marinate the mutton pieces in this spice paste along with the roasted coriander and cumin powders, for about 30 mins.

3.) Heat the coconut milk along with 1/2 cup of water in a deep wok(kadhai). Dissolve the tamarind paste into the coconut milk. Once the coconut milk is simmering, add the mutton pieces along with the marinade and stir to mix.

4.) Add the remaining Lime leaves, Soy sauce and adjust salt in the curry as per your preference. Bring the curry to a boil. Lower the heat and bring it down to a simmer.  
(At this stage the curry will be a light creamy brown. Cover partially (not fully) with a lid and let the mutton cook. This will take approximately 1-1/2 hours.)

5.) Open the lid occasionally and stir the curry to ensure that the mutton is always well coated in the masala. This curry darkens gradually and eventually develops into a beautiful dark brown. While the water evaporates to thicken the gravy, you will occasionally need to add some water to keep the curry from drying up and to cook the mutton to perfect tenderness.

6.) Once the mutton is almost cooked to your liking, add the potato cubes to the simmering gravy. Cook further till the potatoes are done. Switch off heat and keep covered.

Be careful when you cover the lid during the cooking process. Allow a small opening for steam to escape, of your curry will boil over and mess up your stove (as I did)

Garnish with some sliced lime leaves and serve along with steamed brown (or white) rice. Eat up!

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