At my parents home, we had fish more often than chicken and hardly ever had mutton. One reason for not having mutton could be that there was no good mutton shop nearby. At my husband's home they had aatterachi / erachi / mutton more often than chicken and that's when I actually started appreciating its taste. At my in-laws place it was my father in law who made the mutton. And it was awesome. My husband would go buy the erachi fresh in the morning and my father-in-law would cook it with 2 assistants - my sister-in-law and I. My mother-in-law was not involved in the cooking because by then she had given up eating non-vegetarian food. Me being a novice in cooking, my father-in-law would actually cut one piece to show how he wanted the onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes cut. He made a erachi ularthiyathu / erachi olarthiyathu with the good pieces and erachi curry with a few meat and bone pieces. At that time I never considered learning how to make it but thankfully my husband knew. And now, I think we are able to recreate that same taste.
(these ingredients are enough for 2 people, just double or triple according to required quantity)
Mutton (goat meat) / Ghosht / Aatterachi - 400gms
Onion / Pyaaz / Savaalla ulli - 1 large
Tomato / Tamatar / Thakaalli - 1 medium
Ginger / Adrak / Inji - 2 inch piece
Garlic / Lehsun / Velluthulli - 10 pods
Shallots / Sambhar onions / cheriya ulli - 8-10
Curry leaves / Kadipata / Kariveppila - 5-7 sprigs
Cloves / Lavang / Graambu - 4
Cinnamon / Dalchini / Karvapatta - 1 inch piece
Coriander / Dhaniya / Malee pwd - 2 tbsp. heaped
Aniseed / Saunf / Perinjeerakam - 1 tsp heaped
Cardamom / Elaichi / Elakya - 1
Turmeric pwd / Haldi / Manjallpodi - 1tsp
Red chilli pwd / Lal mirchi / Mollagupodi - 1tsp
Pepper pwd / Kali miri / Kurumollagu - 0.5tsp
Salt to taste
Clean and cut the mutton in small pieces. Mix the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, pepper powder and salt and apply well onto the mutton. Keep for an hour, then pressure cook the mutton in a separate vessel without any water for 2 to 3 whistles, till just cooked. This is a dry dish and hence do not add water to the mutton, it will release water. The number of whistles depends on the tenderness of the mutton - we get quite tender meat here and normally 2 whistles are more than enough. Also this recipe calls for stir frying the mutton again with the masalas so if your mutton is overcooked, the end result will be mutton mash and not pieces.
Separately heat a flat pan to roast the whole garam masalas. Dry roast the whole masalas one by one and grind into a fine powder and keep aside.
Heat oil in a kadhai and add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic and fry on medium heat. When the onions are fried to a light brown color add the ground masala powder and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the stock of the mutton and chopped tomatoes and mix well stirring all the time on high heat. Lower the heat and add the mutton pieces, little red chilli powder and pepper powder and sauté to combine all together. Add 2 sprigs of curry leaves and keep stir frying the mutton on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Separately heat the coconut oil in a small kadai and when hot add the chopped shallots / cheriya ulli and fry till they are light brown in color. Then add the slit green chillies and the remaining curry leaves, stir it and add this over the mutton. Keep on low heat and mix the mutton and the tadka / varathu iddal well. The mutton should be fried well by this time; take this off the gas and keep covered.
You can add thengya kothu / coconut slice pieces to the frying mutton closer to the end of frying and use only cheriya ulli for a very very coconutty Kerala taste. We preferred not to add it since we were doing a tadka / varutha iddal in coconut oil and wanted the masalas to stand out. When my father-in-law cooked this as a no coconut dish and the curry was the one with coconut paste and we were trying to be as close to that recipe as possible. I remember him saying once that adding finely chopped fried potatoes when frying the mutton just added to the awesome taste of this dish. Am going to try it sometime.
Our lunch on days that erachi olarthiyathu is made, usually comprises rice, sambhar, and this mutton fry. This is a hit menu at our home, hope it becomes a hit with your family too!
This exact same recipe can be used for beef as well, for an amazing dish.
- To my father-in-law who is no more.