If you haven’t figured it out yet, its time to break the news to you – Parsis love everything ‘Khatu-Mithu’.
I’ve grown up by my mum’s side helping her add a final dash of jaggery and vinegar in practically half the things she used to cook. She used to tell me that’s how life always tends to be – a bit sweet and a bit sour simultaneously – and the sour times help us appreciate the sweet times more. Be it the Saas Ni Machchi or the Sali Boti or the Amti Ni Dar or the Lagan no Patio – all of these dishes use the same technique.
For the longest time, I thought that this Parsi predilection with making everything sweet and sour was a Gujarati influence from the many years our ancestors or that it was just an unhealthy addiction to the E.F. Kolah’s matured sugarcane vinegar. Trust me, if I told you a few stories to the lengths some Parsis go to get their hands on the vinegar (I know an aunty who looks down her nose on any vinegar that’s not bought from Navsari, the Kolah headquarter in the same way that the queen looks down at a Frappucino I presume) you wouldn’t think my theory was far off.
My friend, archeologist and fellow Parsi caterer however later told me that this sweet-sour fascination was actually an Iranian thing that has likely gotten passed down to us by our ancestors along with our love for adding dry fruits to most things.
Most of the sweet and sour dishes I’ve tried though have always had tomato. This is why I was really intrigued when I came across the Khatu-Mithu Gosht in two old Parsi recipe books (I forget the names!). Both the recipes seemed quite complicated though and I really wanted to experiment with my slow cooker so I decided to make my own version of this dish.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, I recommend cooking the meat on open gas instead of a pressure cooker as that’s when this dish tastes best. Ingredients at the bottom of the post as always.
To begin, marinate the mutton in the red chilli paste, ginger garlic paste and salt. Let this marinate ideally for 2 – 3 hours.
When you’re ready to get cooking fry the onion till its golden brown and add in the dhana-jeera, garam masala and red chilli powders.
Now add in the jaggery and let it melt.
When the jaggery starts to bubble add it meat making sure all the chunks are coated with this jaggery mixture. Cook till the external part of the meat is brown to seal in the flavour. Empty this into your slow cooker.
Using some of the pan juices, melt the other lot of jaggery and coat the chopped potatoes with it. Add this to the slow cooker too.
Now, add about 1 to 1.5 cups of water as well as the mint and let your slow cooker do its magic for about 3 hours until the meat is falling off the bone. If you’re cooking on open flame, then you should melt all the jaggery at once and brown the potatoes and the meat together and then cook on medium heat covered until the meat is tender.
When the meat is cooked, you’re going to have to do the hard part and fish out all the mutton and potato. Once that’s done, use an electric mixer to blend the gravy completely so you don’t have random bits of onion or mint floating around.
After you’re done with the blending, add the meat back in and adjust for salt. Finally, add in the vinegar until it cuts through the sweetness of the jaggery and becomes a sweet and sour gravy. Give this a final boil and if you like squeeze in the juice of a lemon. Eat hot with freshly made chapatis.
To make enough for 6 you will need:
1 kg mutton pieces
2 heaped tbsp crushed red chilli paste
1.5 heaped tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 onion finely chopped
2 lots of 80 gm chopped jaggery
400 gm potatoes chopped in quarters or can use baby potatoes
2 tsp dhana jeera powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 cup E.F. Kolah vinegar (can replace with white vinegar for a less intense flavour)
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful of mint leaves
Salt to taste