I landed in Dubai on 23rd May 2011, and headed to my friends’ place in International City. As I entered their 1BHK, a heavenly whiff from the kitchen welcomed my senses on a grand scale. The alluring smell of mutton curry. Without exchanging pleasantries, I enquired about the mutton, and Imran answered he had cooked Mutton Istoo (Stew). That was it. My love affair with Mutton Istoo had started, and since then never diminished. After making Imran cook that dish every week (with certain variations sometimes like adding potato), then I started nudging Sarfaraz as well to cook the same. Because they both belong to the same region (Bihar, India) and had their own way of cooking the same thing.
1. First cut the onions. The trick here is to not use water in the mutton, but have as much onions as the quantity of the mutton. Which means ideally 1kg onions for 1kg mutton. You may decrease onions and add water later if need be. I do use water as well, else every drop of gravy becomes a royalty!
2. Keep the whole spices ready in a bowl.
3. Drop at lot of oil/ghee in a pressure cooker (around 1/3rd cup). Using ghee lends a nice flavor, so does Mustard oil. If health conscious, then use Canola oil (though red meat is an indulgence, so why count the calories?).
4. Just drop half of the onions inside, fry them for 2-3 minutes. Then add ginger-garlic paste, fry for another 2 minutes. Add whole spices now. Fry for another 2-3 minutes.
5. Add mutton. Just see that the oil should be still there, else add little more. Cook the mutton for 5-7 minutes, then add remaining onions, salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder (it infuses nice color). Add half cup water.
6. Cook for another minute or two and close the lid. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. Don’t open the lid immediately, let the pressure release naturally, when it has fizzed out, then open the lid.
7. Add tomatoes, a pinch of jaiphal and 2-3 drops of kewda. Now start cooking once again, until the oil separates and the tomatoes are mashed.
8. Mutton Istoo is best enjoyed with tawa Paranthas.