Like the infamous Dhansak, the Sali Boti is another acclaimed Parsi dish. You will find it everywhere – be it a happy occasion or sad – because mutton is a staple in any Parsi’s diet. From a menu planning perspective, the Sali Boti is superbly versatile and is not only a great side accompaniment with a Dhandar but also just by itself when served on a bed of sali (potato sticks) with some fresh chapatti’s.
Recently, I have been getting a lot of requests for vegetarian Parsi food and while I try my best to wrack my brains for vegetarian alternatives, I frequently find myself at a loss as the idea of no meat in our food generally leaves us shivering in our boots. The other day someone requested that I make them a 7 course vegetarian and eggless Parsi menu. The whole experience left me so traumatised that I decided to meditate and calm down – by making some Sali Boti instead!
Now, I’ve heard a lot about how hard this dish is to get right so I was a bit wary about cooking it. After urgent consultations with the mother in NZ though I decided to take the plunge. And, how wrong was I! This turned out to be the simplest dish I’ve ever made – not as easy as Dhandar ofcourse but you get the drift.
Making Sali Boti is as easy as 1-2-3. However, the whole thing will still end up taking about a couple of hours as the best way to cook this is to let the mutton slow cook. Pressure cooking will ruin the flavour of the mutton so I would strongly advise against it in this instance.
First, you need to marinate the boneless mutton in some salt, ginger garlic and green chilli pastes as well as the yoghurt. Cover the bowl with some cling wrap and let the meat marinate for atleast 2 – 3 hours. The longer you marinate the faster your meat will cook and the better it will taste so I recommend you take your time with this – I prefer to marinate this overnight if time permits.
Now, in a earthern pot (if you have one) or else a nonstick, heat the oil and add in the finely chopped onions. Fry the onions till they are golden pink in colour. Don’t rush this step or your onions will not emulsify into the dish later – they must cook fully and become translucent first. Now, add in the tomato puree as well as the pasta sauce – I have used chopped tomatoes below but had to puree them later so don’t make the mistake I did.
Once you have a thick gravy of the pasta sauce and the tomatoes, add in the mutton pieces, all the masalas, vinegar, sugar and bay leaves. Give everything a good stir and cover your pot so that the meat can start slow cooking on a low-medium flame.
Check in on the meat every 10 – 15 minutes. Covering the pot may have made your gravy slightly watery so for the next 15 minutes, leave the pot slightly open so that water can evaporate. Now that the masala’s have had time to cook, you can now also adjust the flavour. If it’s too spicy or not sour enough I suggest squeezing in the juice of one lemon as that is often all the adjustments you will need to make. You can also add in some sugar if you prefer it to be sour as well as sweet. The whole process of the muttton cooking and the tomato gravy evaporating will take about 35 – 40 minutes.
When the meat becomes tender and the tomato gravy has reduced by almost half its contents then your Sali Boti is ready. Add in some finely chopped coriander and give it a final stir. Serve hot with some sali and chappatis – enjoy!
To make Sali-Boti for 4 – 5 people you will need:
800 gm boneless mutton cut into small chunks
1 heaped tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 heaped tbsp green chilli and jeera paste
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 tbsp oil
4 large onions chopped very finely
4 tomatoes pureed in the grinder
1/2 bottle pasta sauce
4 bay leaves
2 tsp each of turmeric, red chilli and garam masala powders
2 tbsp vinegar
lemon – if required for added sourness
2 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
Finely chopped coriander as garnish
150 gm fine sali (potato sticks)