Growing up in a North Kolkata house with 28 members has shown me different flavors of Bengali culture and rituals. Not that I adopted everything but yes I experienced everything and ended on making some set for me to follow. Kali puja has always been special to us and it never been Diwali to celebrate at our part of the city but the true blue bong Kalipujo. I have seen my father fasting for the entire day (and night) of Kalipujo and I somehow felt spirited having seen him and started doing the Kalipujo fast with Baba and it was started when I probably was a teenager. On the other hand, my mother’s maiden side; to be precise my grandmother’s family are originally from a village of Jharkhand, known as Maluti. I used to visit that tiny village with Maa almost every year during Kalipujo as the place is nearby (well almost) to the famous pilgrimage of Tarapith and Maluti itself is known for the temple of “Devi Molikha” as people refer to the deity. Surrounded by the plateau of Chota Nagpur, Maluti indeed a place to explore for the eternal beauty of nature. However, apart from the natural beauty, what attracted me more was (and till now) the festival of Kalipuja there every year. As the place is having the influence of tribal community and Santhal tribe to be specific, the Kali puja is also influenced by the tribal flavor as well. Eight significant Pujas including the royal puja of Devi Molikha and not to mention one out of the eight pujas is totally followed the tribal processes. Believe me, witnessing the puja of Ma Kali (for me specifically the Santhal Puja) was something spirited me a lot all through my starting years and even today. In addition to the other rituals, sacrificing a livestock which is known as “Boli” used to be quite common during Kalipujo and naturally, Maluti was no exception to this and in fact, this is what famous in many places including Kalighat. Having the specially prepared sacrificed meat, in fact, is a ritual on the consecutive day of puja. Having said that, the “Pujor Mangsho” or the meat (mainly mutton or lamb) that is considered as the “Prasad” is never been prepared using Onion and Garlic, in fact, that is the specialty of the dish that we call Bhoger Mangsho or Niramish Mangsho. This is what used to be prepared thereafter the day of Kalipujo every year (in fact till now).
I have not visited Maluti for years thanks to my now busy life but I cherished listening to my mother every year about her experience being there. I can’t even imagine Maa to not to visit Maluti during Kalipujo. Coming back to the Niramish Mangsho, I have had it several times in my life at different places and that includes at my cousin sisters’ place where they typically opt for the Mutton from “Kalighat” to prepare the Niramish Mangsho. As I already mentioned, I have developed a culture of mine to celebrate now that I can’t be able to visit places I used to visit when I was a youngster thanks to my schedule now. I have had the Niramish Mangsho in a different form but the main thing to remember is to not to prepare is using Onion and Garlic. As Onion is not part of the dish, to give it a distinct flavor use of Asafoetida or “Hing” is a must while preparing the Niramish Mangsho or Bhoger Mangsho this is what I learned from my Dida. Coming to the rest, what I realized, given it is a traditional way of preparing the Bhog, the dish is not influenced by fancy spices but the use of basic spices and processes. I personally don’t even use Tomato in it. You may found a various version of the recipe but the way I prepare it is not inclusive of anything those are foreign to a basic mutton curry that is known to be Bengali. I do prepare the Niramish Mangsho every year on the day after Kalipujo! This is probably my way of looking back to my childhood and to cherish the special aroma of the runny mutton curry.
Now on this note let us have the recipe of Niramish Mangsho the way I prepare it. So for me, my Niramish Mangsho is incomplete without Aloo (potato chunks) and Ghee tempered spices in it. Not to mention, carefully chosen mutton with a little addition of fat (say 10%).
- Mutton: 1 kg (medium size pieces)
- Potato: 500g (cut into halves)
- Ginger: 100g
- Unflavoured Curd: 500 g
- Bay Leaf: 1
- Red Chili: 2
- Clove: 8-10
- Cinnamon Stick: 2”
- Green Cardamom: 2-3
- Black Cardamom: 2
- Asafoetida / Hing: 1 Tsp.
- Cumin Powder: 2 Tsp.
- Coriander Powder: 2 Tsp.
- Garam Masala Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Red Chili Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Turmeric Powder: 2 Tsp.
- Sugar: 2 Tsp.
- Salt: to taste
- Mustard Oil: 3 Tbsp.
- Ghee: 2 Tbsp.
- Wash and pat dry mutton pieces and marinade with 100g Card, 1 Tsp. Cumin Powder, 1 Tsp. Coriander Powder, 1 Tsp. Turmeric Powder, and ½ Tsp. Red Chili Powder for around 8 hours.
- Peel and cut potatoes in half and smear little turmeric powder over the potatoes.
- Mix rest of the Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric Powder, and Red Chili Powder with 1 Tbsp. of Mustard Oil to make a thick paste.
- Make a smooth paste of Ginger.
- Be handy with a pot full of boiling water.
- Heat remaining oil in a pan and fry Potatoes till those turn golden brown in color and strain potatoes from the pan.
- Now shift the remaining oil in a deep pan and add Ghee to it and heat.
- Add the tempering (Bay Leaf, Red Chili, Clove, Cinnamon Stick, Green Cardamom, Black Cardamom, and Asafoetida and then cook for a minute until the tempering leaves aroma.
- At this point add sugar and continuously stir it using a ladle to caramelize the sugar but be careful to not to burn it.
- Add Ginger paste to the mixture and cook for 2 minutes in low flame and add a little water if found the spices sticking on the edges of the pan.
- Add the spice paste that is prepared already as well as some salt and cook for 3-4 minutes in low flame.
- Add well-beaten
curd(the remaining) to the mixture and mix continuously and cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens and release oil.
- At this point add marinated mutton to the mixture and using ladle quote mutton with the spices and start cooking in low flame and stir in between.
- The mutton will start releasing water around after 10 minutes of low flame cooking and add fried potatoes at this point.
- Keep the flame low and let the mutton cook in its own water for 20 minutes with a lid on.
- Add 4 cups of boiling water to the mutton and raise the flame a bit and keep the mutton cooking now with the added water.
- It should take 15 more minutes to cook the mutton properly with the lid of the pan on or maybe more depending on the quality of mutton.
- Add boiling water in between to keep the consistency same.
- Once the mutton is totally done add Garam Masala Powder and 1 Tsp. of Ghee to finish the Niramish Mangsho.
To give the curry a more dominant red color, use Kashmiri Red Chili Powder instead of the normal one.
The the amount of Sugar will be depending on the taste-bud.
If you wish, can ignore Ghee completely but that will obviously decrease the special flavor of the dish.
Hope you have enjoyed reading the post on Niramish Mangsho and my memory of Maluti. Do let me know if you are interested knowing more about Maluti; I will definitely post it for you.