If you are obsessed with food and all things food like I am then you will empathize with what I am going to say next.
When a flavour or a smell or a taste grabs your fancy, it doesn’t go away until you’ve satiated in it till your heart’s content.
Something similar is happening to me right now.
I can’t get enough of the humble Curry Leaf.
Its intoxicating, tangy, aromatic flavour with a hint of tangerine and basil and kaffir lime is strongly rooted in my consciousness.
And I’m trapped in it.
Tripping on it.
High on it.
The humble curry leaf. Sigh. Little do you know that you’re driving me insane.
While it is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, it’s only in the southern Indian state of Kerala that they take it seriously enough to let it dominate the taste of the food.
Here’s my tweaked version of the traditional Kerala ‘Ishtew’.
Mutton Radish Stew
Mutton – 500 g
White Radish (Mooli) – 1 big, cubed
Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) – 30 sprigs, hand crushed
Garlic – 12 cloves, finely chopped
Peppercorns – 1 ½ tbsp, whole
Green Chillies – 3, slit
Cinnamon – 2 x 1” sticks, broken
Onions – 2 small, sliced
Coconut Milk – 1 cup
Mutton stock – 1 cup
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Rub the mutton with salt, peppercorns and cinnamon and marinate for 30 minutes.
Place the mutton in a pan and pressure cook for half the time that it takes to fully cook the meat. I cooked it for 10 minutes. If you use the ‘whistle’ method then cook it for half the number of whistles.
In a pot, heat the oil to high and pop in the curry leaves and sauté for a few minutes or till they begin crackling.
Add the garlic and sauté until the aroma is released. Add the onions and the green chillies and sauté for 3 minutes.
Add the radish and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the mutton and carefully stir it in so that each piece gets coated with the wonderful flavours.
Add the mutton stock (the juices from the pressure cooker pan) and bring to a boil.
Stir in the coconut milk gently and simmer for 10 minutes.
Eat with steamed unpolished brown rice or chapattis.
Even crusty bread.
Traditionally though, this fragrant curry made even more fragrant by my very generous use of the intoxicating curry leaf, is mopped up with appams.