I have been working on this Durban Mutton Curry recipe for many years and there are still many years more to go – but I am getting somewhere.
Every time I cook curry, it is an adventure, it is therapy and it is fun.
Whilst the ingredients & quantities are pretty standard, I have a few techniques to get a rich thick gravy and super soft meat.
I mostly cook curry to make Bunny Chows, so I like to make a lot of gravy. My recipe may be a bit different, but it is because I have tweaked it to my preference.
Ingredients for every kg meat
- 1kg Mutton (Cut into pieces. Washed and patted dry with kitchen towel)
- 200 ml Sunflower Oil
- 4 Onions (Grated or very finely chopped)
- 2-3 Jam Tomatoes (Grated. Add more or less to your preference)
- 4-6 Tablespoons Masala / Curry Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Organic Cayenne Pepper (if you want to turn up the heat)
- 3 Star Anise
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 1 Tablespoon Fennel Seeds (Ground with Pestle & Mortar)
- 3-4 Green or Red Chillies (or both)
- 1 Tablespoon of Homemade Garlic & Ginger Paste
- 1 Tablespoon of Homemade Dhania & Jeera Powder or Jeera seeds crushed with Pestle & Mortar (whatever you prefer)
- 1 Tablespoon Salt (add more or less to preference)
- 1-2 Teaspoons Turmeric
- 1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar (add or don’t add as per your preference)
- Dhania Leaves to garnish
- 2-4 Large Potatoes (The amount is to your preference, but if you can get UTD Potatoes then these must be your first choice. We call then gravy soakers. UTD = Up to Date Potatoes)
- Heat oil in heavy based pot
- Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, dhania & jeera powder, turmeric and allow to fry until fragrant.
- Add onions and saute until soft. (take care to not let your spices burn)
- Add your Curry Powder / Masala and allow to fry a bit. (again, take care not to let your spices burn. The mixture will become very thick now and it will burn easy)
- If you are adding extra Chilli powder or Cayenne Pepper, then add now.
- Add a dash of water if the ingredients are too thick – and stir. Allow the water to cook off whilst you adjust your heat so that the sauce boils but does not burn.
- Add your tomatoes and allow to saute until soft. This is where I put my most effort, in cooking the tomatoes down to make a smooth, thick, rich curry base. I use a wooden spatula or flat pointed wooden spoon to continuously scrape the bottom of the pot to bring up the flavours. The oil will come to the top when the sauce is reaching the right consistency.
- Add teaspoon of brown sugar, or don’t, and allow to dissolve fully.
- Add about half a cup of water. This is a debatable step, but I find that the water brings the sauce alive and allows me to cook it down to my required consistency.
- Cover and simmer on a low-medium heat for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid of the pot and allow the moisture to evaporate from the sauce. You are now preparing your sauce to saute your mutton (or any meat).
- Keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with your utensil. The sauce will thicken up quite a bit at this stage and you do not want it to stick and burn. This sauce is the base of your curry and the more effort which you put in, the better results you will get.
- Add a few curry leaves into your sauce / base
- Remove your pot from the heat and stir in your mutton / meat in through the sauce, making sure that all pieces are well covered.
- Return the pot to the head and gently stir until the meat starts to fry in the sauce. You want the temperature of the sauce to go above at least 140c to achieve a Maillard Reaction. You want to use your utensil to scrape the meat and sauce from the bottom of the pot to the top, in the same manner you would turn a flower bed with a spade.
- When you are happy that your meat has fried enough (usually when the sauce gets really thick and wants to burn on the bottom of the pot) then add at least a cup of water. Your sauce must be thin enough to be able to gently simmer, with no chance of it burning on the bottom of the pot.
- Add a few curry leaves, turn down your heat, put the lid on the pot and simmer for at least 40 minutes. (40 mins for mutton, 20 mins for lamb) or until your meat is soft.
- Hint: If I am in a rush, or just in the mood for experimentation, I sometimes transfer to a pressure cooker at this point and on a low heat, wait for the pot to whistle 3 times and then I transfer back to my curry pot.
- When your meat is soft add your potatoes, some curry leaves and your salt. Add water until the potatoes are just covered.
- Partly cover the pot and allow to gently simmer until the potatoes are soft and the meat falls off the bone.
- Hint: If the water is not evaporating fast enough, then leave uncovered. You can always add a dash or 2 or water, if required.
- When your curry is ready, stir in a pinch or 2 of dhania leaves, a few curry leaves, another pinch or 2 of salt and let it stand for at least 15 minutes.
- Serve as a Bunny Chow, with Basmati Rice, with Roti or however you like.
Check here for a Durban Lamb Curry Recipe (Step by Step with Photographs)