This is the first of a few great plates we’ll be sharing from Karrupiah of Karaikudi in Chettinad. Only our talented friend, Sumeet Nair, who worked for three years with the team at The Bangala to record Karrupiah’s recipes, could earn this secret Chettiyar recipe for the rest of us to enjoy.
The Bangala Table cookbook.
Goondu Milagai chilies.
While goondu milagai chilies are local to Chettinad, we have found the much more available cascabel chilies work well as a substitute. Whatever chili 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.
Chettinad Mutton Fry – Uppu Kari Recipe
Yields 4 - 6
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 60 minutes
Total 75 minutes
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
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.
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.
Slide in the shallots and turmeric and stir to combine – by now the kadhai should be smoking hot.
Add the tomatoes and stir. Let the mixture cook for 3 minutes before adding the mutton and salt. Stir occasionally for about 4 minutes.
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.
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.