This is not your father’s (or mother’s) goat curryOur in-house goat expert vouches by the recipe, a combination of a family classic and an obsession to experiment with other recipes from around the world.
When a 17th-century French physicist designed an airtight steam digester, the last thing he might’ve had in mind was cooking goat. But centuries later, the pressure cooker has become a must-have in any Nepali household for preparing dishes—from boiling daal in minutes to tenderising pieces of a freshly slaughtered mountain goat for a well-deserved Saturday lunch.
At least that is how most of us—well, most families—prepare goat curry. Saute some onions, mix in garlic, throw in the cubed meat, salt, a teaspoon of spices from the masala box, a cup of water, in goes the pressure cooker lid, five whistles, and voila! The day is made.
But for this recipe, we’re going to try something different. The two most essential ingredients for this goat curry are: GOAT (from your trusted neighbourhood butcher) and patience (if you don’t have it, drink a beer before cooking).
The first step: pack up the pressure cooker and put it away in storage. Bring out a wide pot, preferably a brass kasaudi or an iron karahi. If you have a Dutch Oven, that’ll work quite well, too.
Second: get your spices in order. If you can prepare a mix at home, that’s even better. You can make a proper spice blend for goat curry by roasting and grinding these spices: dried red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, dried curry leaves, turmeric, mace, cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom. Not having some of these won’t hurt the flavour.
And finally, the most important step before you cook: marinating the goat cubes overnight will give you the rich, deep flavour you won’t get from a curry that’s cooked without marinating the meat.
In a wide bowl, marinate the properly-cut meat with 3 tablespoons of spice mix and salt to taste. Mix well, cover with an airtight lid and leave in the refrigerator overnight, or at least for three hours, if you absolutely must make it the same day. If you have refrigerated it overnight, take it out of the fridge about an hour before cooking.
Chop two medium-sized onions into thin slices. Nepali onions are generally smallish, so you may need a couple more. Grind five cloves of garlic and an inch of ginger into a smooth paste. Slit two green chillies into halves and set it aside. Separately, roast about four to five tomatoes with half a cup of chopped cilantro, blend them to make a puree, and set it aside.
In the kasaudi, pour in about three tablespoon oil (it’s hard to beat mustard oil when it comes to making goat curry) and fry about three to four whole cardamom pods, 10 whole peppercorns, and a decent size cinnamon stick. Put in the onions once the spices start to pop, and fry them until they start to brown. Add garlic and ginger pastes and the green chillies. Fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the marinated meat and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked on the outside and starting to brown slightly, for about 25 minutes. At this point, you can add a teaspoon of asafetida and additional salt to taste. Stir again.
Next, add the tomato puree to the pot with a handful of fresh curry leaves and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the goat is very tender, for about two hours. If the sauce starts to dry quickly, add a cup of warm water and stir.
The cooking time is important and it depends entirely on the kind of meat you get. The meat available in Nepal is usually not from a baby goat, unlike many butcher shops in the West. So, you generally want to cook it longer, anywhere from an hour to two hours. The best way to find out if the meat is perfect is to see if you can fork off the meat from the bones. If it seems easier—without making a mess of the meat—then it’s ready.
Transfer the goat curry to a warm serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Serve with rice or chiura. Be happy.
Cubed goat meat: 1 kg
Spice mix: 3 to 4 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Mustard oil: 3 to 4 tbsp
Onions: red, 2 medium
Cardamom pods: 5 to 6
Cinnamon stick: 1
Peppercorns: whole, 10
Garlic: 5 cloves
Ginger: 1-inch piece
Green chillies: 2
Asafetida: 1 tsp
Tomatoes: 4 to 5 medium
Curry leaves: 1/2 cup
Cilantro: chopped, 1 cup
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