Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mutton cha Rassa (Maharashtrian Lamb Curry)

Mutton Rassa (Maharashtrian lamb curry) was probably the first food I knew I couldn't live without. Especially the way my mother makes it. My grandmother, my mother and all my aunts would make their own garam masala. Although my grandma has passed away, her memory still lives on every time I cook something as my garam masala still comes from home. I have had Mutton Rassa all over Pune, but only the Parsi restaurants do real justice to the Rassa part of it.

Although it has been 10 long years since I've been to Cafe Good Luck on Fergusson College Rd, I still remember the L shaped restaurant where time seems to have stood still. It has withstood many a communal riot that required reconstruction for other Parsi establishments. The entrance of Good Luck, the apex of the L, is at the corner of Bhandarkar Rd and Fergusson College Rd. One wing of the L extends into the dining area, the other is only for tea & pastry consumption. I remember the slightly bent old man who used to sit at the counter. He was a grumpy old man with a blue fly swatter who watched your every move. He didn’t quite know what year it was, but kept a watchful eye on the waiters making sure then don’t ‘favour’ their favourite customers of which there were many. An old, rickety Cinni fan from the 1950's, with most of the black paint chipped used to keep him cool. I don’t think it had been oiled since the 70’s either. My father would tell me that he was quite the dashing man when my father was a regular at Good Luck in his Fergusson days. Quasim his grandson, was my classmate at Fergusson College and from what I hear, is running Good Luck — and quite successfully, too. I have fond memories of dining at Good Luck with my father as he would order my mutton just the way I liked it. It was a dish only known as Mutton Double Fry. Your basic mutton curry, sautéed with onions, tomato and chili till the curry was reduced to a dry coarse paste, to be consumed with larger than life chapatis.

Most of the restaurants around the neighbourhood I grew up with have disappeared due to new construction and the so-called malls. Good Luck is still standing strong. Maybe someday I'll able to take my children to Good Luck and introduce them to the food three generations of their family have grown up on. Hopefully, it will happen before Cafe Good Luck is just a blip in the rear view mirror like Lucky, Cafe Sunrise, Poona Coffee House and Hotel Deepa.

I lb lamb cubed
2 large onions finely chopped
2 large tomatoes finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic crushed or 1 tsp paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt (or according to taste)
3 cups water
1/2 cup oil

In a large pot heat oil on high and add ginger and garlic.
When the garlic starts to splatter add chopped onion
Once the onion browns on the edges, add tomato and stir
Allow to cook for 5 min
Then add chili, turmeric and garam masala
Allow to cook for a few minutes and add Lamb
Stir and allow to cook for a minute or two
Add water and mix well
Turn heat to medium and allow to boil till water reduces by 1/2
Keep cooking till meat is tender
Serve with Chapati or rice.