So, following such stalwarts as chingrir cutlet and pea polau in our little-too-late-to-be-of-any-use queue of pujo recipes, we come upon Kosha Mangsho, without which no Bengali meal is truly complete. And I mean that literally. My fish-loving family is living proof. My uncles, aunts, great-aunts and great-uncles all swear by fish. Consequently, our festive meals begins with fish chops [recipe sometime soon], followed by bhetkir paturi (seasoned and broiled bass) and either paka rui machher kalia (rohu in rich onion and tomato-based gravy) or chingrir malaikari. Or doi-machh (rohu in yogurt-based gravy). If there was a way to work fish into dessert, my grandmother and greataunts probably woul have.
Of course, this is usually summer and winter fare, reserved for Noboborsho and bhaiphNota. During the monsoons, if markets are favourable, it's hilsa all around. Ilish paturi and shorshe-ilish for formal feasts, and ilish machh bhaja and kNata chochhori for family lunches the day after.
It's amazing that anything manages to sneak in between these crowded courses, but since the children (at twenty six I am, of course, still counted amongst 'the children') are not as enamoured of the piscine cuisine, the kosha mangsho inevitably makes it's way through. Every now and then, looking at the mounting costs--'casue sweet/freshwater fish is not cheap, children--someone suggests making "a lovely chicken tandoori" or "a perfect chicken korma" instead of the steeply-priced goat meat. A suggestion that is promtply shot down by the rest with a dismissive, "Etoi jokhon khoroch hochhe...". Since all this money is being spent anyway...
At home, my father is the reigning king of kosha mangsho. Hands-down, no-challengers, supreme-ruler-of-the-universe. I've tried to replicate his recipe while I lived in strange foreign shores, but it's just not the same thing. I suppose, to make a mean mutton kosha, you must have the guts to pour in a quarter litre of oil into one dish, and charge right after with a week's worth of spices. I'm ridiculously chicken in the kitchen, though that terribly low irony is completely unintended. If your have stronger hearts than mine, try this at home.
Ginger, garlic, red onions, tomatoes, green chilies. Put inside a mixie/food processor and made into a thick, slightly gooey paste.
Marinate the washed and cleaned mutton in this. Some people add yogurt, which softens the meat, but I advice against it unless you're experienced cook. Yogurt sticking to the meat makes it easy to char and imparts a smoky flavour to the dish, which is not what we're aiming for here. Instead, I sugges the juice of one lemon. That plus the tomato keeps the meat from hardening.
For instructions hereafter, see notes on my previous attempt at kosha mangsho here.
The big difference, of course, is that instead of a cast iron skillet, this puja the ingredients were fried together over medium heat in a pressure cooker (the process is called koshano, hence the name of the dish), and thereafter cooked in it, thus making the meat extra succulent. Like a pot roast that melts off the chunk at the lightest touch of your fork.
And that terribly low irony was also unintended, thank you.
(Previous pujo-food posts: chingrir cutlet, pea polau, mocha r ghonto)