This post has been in the planning since the time we received the book sometime last year. It took me just a day, amidst the chaos at home, to finish reading. And I loved it. Later on, for one of the gatherings at home, I had cooked niramish mangsho with reference from Those Delicious Letters.
About Those Delicious Letters
It was classic Bongmom style- easy to read and full of subtle humour. This was Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta’s second book. While the first book (from what I have heard, haven’t read it yet) is more about recipes, this one has a beautiful storyline with a recipe at the end of each chapter. Without giving out too much information about the book, I would highly recommend it for someone in love with romcoms and light humour. And although like Shubha, I don’t need any motivation to cook, Didan’s letters to Moni have tempted me to cook niramish mangsho.
If you love Bengali cooking and bengali food then you need to read Sandeepa’s blog – bongcookbook
What is Niramish Mangsho?
Mutton cooked without onion and garlic is called niramish mangsho. The word ‘Niramish’ in Bengali means vegetarian. Mutton is definitely not ‘vegetarian’. However, in this case, this dish is cooked for the goddess Durga on Nabami and for goddess Kali on Kali Puja. Typically, meat from the goat that has been sacrificed is cooked with this method. And since it is for the goddess, hence there are no onions and garlic. Funny, I know but Bongs do find a way to eat meat on all occasions. Animal sacrifice has been banned now and instead, people do symbolic sacrifice but cutting a large ash gourd and other vegetables.
The ruling flavours in Niramish Mangsho
Mutton without onions and garlic? Trust me, you won’t even miss them. Much like the Kashmiri Pandit style mutton roganjosh, this one heavily depends on yogurt, asafoetida and ginger. And unlike the typical mangshor jhol that I make, this one has many more spices. Freshly grated ginger is the key as well as thick and well-beaten yogurt. Along with this a medley of spices- coriander, cumin, dried red chilies and fennel play a key role in binding the flavours. Whole and powdered Bengali garam masala is of course a must along with a hint of nutmeg and mace. And not to forget, the flavour of ghee.
The recipe has been taken from Those Delicious Letters but as usual, I made small changes, primarily for my convenience.
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Niramish Mangsho | Mutton Cooked Without Onion and Garlic
- 1 kg mutton curry cut
- ½ cup thick yogurt
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- 2 tbsp ginger paste
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp Bengali garam masala powder
- salt to taste
For tempering I
- 2 dried bay leaf
- 4 cloves
- 4 green cardamom
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
For tempering II
- 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 pinch asafoetida/ heeng
- 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
For making Masala Paste
- 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp fennel powder
- 1 tomato
- 2-3 green chilies
- ¼ tsp Bengali garam masala
- 1 pinch nutmeg powder
- 1 petal javitri /mace
- 2 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 2 tbsp mustard oil
- 4 large potatoes halved (optional)
- Wash the mutton pieces and pat them dry. Add all the ingredients for the marination and keep the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. That would be ideal. However, you can also marinate for 3 - 4 hours. Make sure you have beaten the yogurt well before adding to the marinade.
- In a bowl, take the spices for the masala paste and add a little lukewarm water. Keep that for 15 minutes.
- Finely chop the tomato and keep that aside.
- Peel the potatoes and half them. Then sprinkle salt and lightly fry in the mustard oil and take them out. This is optional. Most people don't use potatoes in niramish mangsho. it is a personal choice.
- In a kadai/wok, heat mustard oil and temper with the ingredients from 'I'. Mix the ingredients from tempering 'II' in a bowl with a sprinkle of water if needed and add that to the pan when the whole spices have browned.
- Stir-fry for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped tomatoes. Over high heat, fry the tomatoes for a minute while stirring continuously.
- Then shake off excess liquid from the mutton pieces and add to the pan.
- Don't throw the marinade. We will add it back. Now over high heat, fry the mutton for a minute and then over medium heat keep frying till the mutton has browned a bit.
- Add the masala paste to this and give it a good mix. Add the leftover marinade and then mix it well with the mutton pieces.
- For the next ten minutes, cook this over medium heat, while stirring from time to time. It is called 'koshano', which will cook the spices and blend the flavours.
- After this, transfer everything to a pressure cooker. If you do not have a pressure cooker, cover and slow cook till the mutton is tender.
- In the pressure cooker, add 2 cups of hot water (in case you want less gravy, add 1 cup). Adjust the salt and add sugar. Add the potatoes too.
- Close the lid and let the mutton cook for fifteen to twenty minutes or about 8 or more whistles (depending on the quality of the meat).
- Once done, remove the lid with the heat on low. While it is simmering, add pinch of garam masala, split green chilies, nutmeg powder, mace and finally ghee.
- Give it a boil and if you feel that the gravy is too much, keep boiling till you have the desired consistency of gravy. Then take it off the heat and serve with steamed rice.