The Bangala, cookbook, Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, South India, India, Faces Places and Plates blog

The Bangala’s Chettinad Mutton Fry – Uppu Kari – is the first of a few great plates we’ll be sharing from their master chef Karrupiah.   Our friend, Sumeet Nair, worked for three years with the team at The Bangala to record Karrupiah’s recipes. Spending many weekends and all his holidays at this boutique hotel in Karaikudi, he earned this secret Chettinad Mutton Fry – Uppu Kari –  recipe for the rest of us to enjoy. And, we are truly grateful.

If you live in South India, goondu milagai chilies, which are local to Chettinad, will be easy to find. In North America, we find cascabel chilies work well as a substitute. Whatever chillies you use, they should be mild.

If this dish whets your appetite, you may want to explore the whole collection of recipes Sumeet Nair and Mrs. Meenakshi Meyyappan share in their award-winning cookbook, The Bangala Table – Flavors and Recipes from Chettinad. We highly recommend it.

Chettinad Mutton Fry – Uppu Kari Recipe

4 - 6 servings


1/3 cup vegetable oil
20 dried red chillies, preferably goondu milagai, seeded and broken in 2 (we use dried cascabels in North America)
1 1/2- inch piece Sri Lankan “true” cinnamon bark
11 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced in thirds, lengthwise
20 medium shallots, peeled whole.
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup water
1 1/2 medium tomatoes, sliced in half and then quartered
1 lb (500 grams) boneless mutton (goat or lamb), chopped in 1-inch cubes, including a bit of liver if possible
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed kadhai (wok) over high heat. When hot but not smoking, add the chillies, stirring to release their fragrance.
  2. Break the cinnamon into a few pieces and add to the kadhai; follow with the sliced garlic and stir to ensure that it does not burn.
  3. Slide in the shallots and turmeric and stir to combine – by now the kadhai should be smoking hot.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stir. Let the mixture cook for 3 minutes before adding the mutton and salt. Stir occasionally for about 4 minutes.
  5. Add 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the meat is fork-tender. If more water is needed to continue the cooking process, add as required and braise until the meat is cooked OR, if using a pressure cooker, seal the lid and cook for 15 minutes or until the first whistle, and then let simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove the lid once cooled.
  6. Braise until the water has mostly evaporated and the meat has darkened substantially and is beautifully coated with the sauce. Tip: If using lamb, soak the meat in coconut milk for 30 minutes and then rinse before using to decrease the strong taste if necessary.

Thanks for trying this recipe.


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