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Maangsho Jhol | Bengali Mutton Curry - From The Corner Table
Several people, when asked about a mutton curry, have described it as “a gravy of meat, potatoes and/or vegetables” depending on their location on the world map. For a Bengali, however, there is nothing ‘simple’ about the maangsho jhol (Bengali style mutton curry). This is a curry that is usually reserved for the Sunday lunch or made to add that extra oomph to a meal made to impress. A Bengali can regale you with tales of incidents and heated discussions that have taken place during the Sunday lunch of maangsho jhol and bhaat (rice). There is an emotional connect with this curry. Such is the robust personality of the maangsho jhol that accompaniments are limited to some fresh green chillies for that extra zing, sliced onions and some chaatni (chutney). The adventurous ones – read those with strong digestion systems – end the meal with a serving of creamy homemade doi (yogurt). I say adventurous because mutton curry is heavy on the stomach. As is any milk product like yogurt. My memories of maangsho jhol are tied up with winter picnics and Sunday afternoons. These picnics were organised by the Bengalis who had banded together in a foreign land, in this case Rajkot, a city in Gujarat. Following traditions they had grown up with, they would organise picnics during winter. At these outings, men would take up cooking duties and amid a lot of laughter and some tiffs over the amount of red chilli powder, these daddies would cook maangsho jhol and rice. The mothers were given the tedious job of prepping the onions, ginger and garlic. Our job, as kids, was to play! Best job in the world, wasn’t it? At the Bhaumick – yup that’s my surname – household, maangsho jhol and rice was a Sunday ritual made special by the fact that my father would be cooking it. His maanghso jhol is world-famous, I kid you not! It was (and still is) a labour of love. Labour because it does take at least 2 hours to make unless you want to be done in a jiffy and dump it all in a pressure cooker. Don’t let the ‘2 hours’ scare you off! It made me shudder in dread too. But whilst learning to cook this dish, I realised that you don’t have to do much after the first 30 minutes. Honestly! Over the years, the weekly Sunday lunch of this curry has reduced owing to health factors – old age and red meat are a big NO – but it’s still the preferred meat during parties. And with the Bengali New Year just round the corner, this is the best time for me to perfect this recipe and share it with you. If you do post photographs on social media, tag From The Corner Table on Instagram and Facebook. Pssstt… I hope you are working on calling that lonely friend of yours for dinner on his/her New Year next weekend. Remember we spoke about it in ‘Sweating over Dum Aloo & Begun Bhaaja (Bengali Potato Curry & Fried Brinjal)’ Please note there are various ways this particular dish can be made. To accommodate some of the methods that my father uses, I have added notes at relevant points in the method of cooking. I urge you to read through the recipe before heading into the kitchen. Choose your method before the pots, pans are hauled out. To stay updated on new recipes, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. You could also subscribe and be a part of the mailing list. print