Mutton curry with paya (trotters)

Mutton curry

Mutton curry

(PS: I know I have a tendency to ramble on endlessly about food so if you guys would like to skip to the recipe below, just get to it at the bottom of the page. This is the best homestyle mutton curry I’ve made.  The delicious gravy is replete with the deep umami-rich flavours of the meat, a gorgeous brown colour from caramelised onions, perfectly cooked fall-off-the-bone tender meat and lots of fantastic bone-marrow rich bones to extract deliciousness from. You won’t regret making it, I promise.)

Of all the curries I’ve cooked, the best and the worst have involved mutton. Yep, I’m a glutton for mutton (I know it’s cheesy but you’ve got to allow me a few bad jokes). The first thing I ever cooked was a biryani  in high school, that turned out so well that everybody who ate it remembers it to date. That beginning should have spurred me on to great heights of glory but alas, I could never replicate it again to that exact brilliance. And then there was this time I set out to make a mutton saagwala that I had high hopes for but it turned out to be an inedible mess of green goo… heartbreak. There were moments of success with the Mutton Beliram and this Keralite pepper fried mutton but not enough to sate my quest for THE homestyle mutton curry. The kind of mutton I’ve eaten at my Muslim friends homes. You know what I’m talking of right? A deep brown silken gravy that’s rich with caramelised onions, tonnes of flavours that you can’t quite figure how and moist, fall off the bone tender meat.


This week, I seem to have broken that jinx though I have to confess that it happened mostly by chance. It started with my trying to make a paya soup that I imagined would be delicious, nourishing and gooey with oodles of marrow….mmm bone marrow. Why does it not get it’s due I wonder? How many times have I wanted desperately to snatch a thick and juicy bone from others not doing it enough justice, run away to a quiet corner and greedily steal the deliciousness within it? Unfortunately, snatching bones from the plates of strangers is frowned upon in polite cultures so I just settle with doing that to Atul. Anyhow, I set out to make the paya (trotter) soup sans the yoghurt and tomatoes that are apparently not good for me, with visions of luscious intensely flavoured soup that would slither down my throat and magically heal me from deep within. Unfortunately, life’s not that cooperative. When I opened the pressure cooker, reality, that uninvited long staying guest swung by. The stock was admittedly gooey and sticky (a mark of the marrow getting nicely extracted) and but it lacked depth of flavour. In technical terms, it was sort of blah. What’s more, I had visions of poor Atul looking into his soup (that already looked more like a curry) and lamenting in sorrow ‘where’s the meat gudiya?’ So sighed, I cursed that mutton curry curse, decided to sell out and threw in some meat. After that there was no looking back. I added whole spices, a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of this and a handful of that and before I knew it, there it was – the mutton curry I’d been wanting to make all my life. The secret lay in the bones. Duh!

Melting tender meat that cuts like butter

Melting tender meat that cuts like butter

Mutton and Paya(trotter) Curry

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6

A fairly simple curry that depends on onions, goat trotters and long cooking time to yield a complex, rich and deeply flavourful curry. If you are used to cooking Indian food, you will have all of these ingredients and a pressure cooker in your kitchen and cooking this will be more than worth the effort. I like to cook this the day before I want to serve it because I find a marked improvement in the flavours on the next day. I'd highly recommend that you try it that way.
  • Peppercorns - 1tsp
  • Payas or trotters, cleaned and washed well - 4
  • Onions, very very finely chopped or coarsely ground - 3
  • Freshly cut goat (mutton), cut into large curry style chunk - 750 gms
  • Ginger, grated - 1.75T + 1t
  • Garlic - 2T + 1t
  • Green chilly - 2 or more if you like your curry hotter. Slit.
  • Turmeric powder - ½ t
  • 4-6 cups of water
  • Bayleaves - 2
  • Cardamoms - 5
  • Black cardamom - 1
  • Cinnamon - 2 inch stick
  • Cloves - 5
  • Star anise - 1
  • Lime - 1
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil or ghee - 6T
  • Red chilli powder .5 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2t
  • Cumin or jeera - .5t, .25
  • Fenugreek or methi seeds - 1t
  • Whole wheat flour or aata - 2.5 T
  • Corriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish
  1. Heat 2T ghee or oil in your pressure cooker, add the onions and stir-fry on medium-low heat till they evenly caramelise to a golden brown colour. (15-20 minutes)
  2. Add the 1.75T of ginger paste and 2t of garlic paste along with the well-cleaned trotters paya. Stir fry on low heat for another 15 mins
  3. Now add 1 slit green chilli, turmeric c, 1tsp black peppercorns
  4. Pour in 4 cups of water, add salt to taste and give everything a good stir.
  5. Close the pressure cooker, let it whistle 3 times on high. Now turn the heat to low and cook for 1 hour. Let the pressure cooker cool before opening and proceeding to the next step
  6. Heat another 2 T oil in a pan, add the whole spices (bayleaves, 2 types of cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and star anise) and fry on low heat till fragrant.
  7. Add in the mutton pieces and fry till the meat changes to a lighter colour. Add the sauteed meat and spices to the pressure cooker curry. At this point you can also add 1 or 2 cups of hot water depending on how thick you would like the gravy.
  8. Return the pan back to heat and add the remaining oil. Add in the cumin and fenugreek seeds on low heat and fry till fragrant. Now throw in the coriander and chilli powders along with the flour and fry till the colour changes and the spice mix is fragrant.
  9. Add the flavoured oil to the pressure cooker and mix well.
  10. Squeeze the lime into the pressure cooker, throw in the additional chillies, cover with the lid and cook on hight heat. Once the pressure comes to a head and the cooker has let out 3 whistles, turn the heat down to low and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste for salt and add more as required.
  11. Let cool before opening the cooker. Infact I'd say let the stew sit overnight for the flavours to meld, give it a boil the next day and then serve.
  12. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.
- Buying mutton - I’d been hearing of a great things about the old fashioned mutton shop in the neighbourhood but never made my way there before. I finally made the trek and realized why it's developed the reputation. A shop by Qureshis of the Indian Muslim community that have been butchers for generations. And they clearly know their meat! Every time we've bought anything from here, it's turned out great and they're the only people I ever get mutton from now. If you are in the Four Bunglows region, call them on 02226331212 and they will deliver fresh meat to your door too.

- Opening the cooker - cool the pressure cooker down quickly, place a wet towel on top. This helps the cooker cool and lets the pressure down much faster so you can open it.

- Cooking the meat right - Depending on the quality and cut of your goat, you may need to cook it longer. After the 20 minutes, do let the pressure out, open the cooker, check and decide if you need to cook it longer to make it tender enough.



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