Time flies, on rosy wings.
As yet another decade draws to a close, I cannot but revert to the studio apartment in Hyderabad, the last day of 2009, friends around, cheerful conversation and mirthful laughter, feasting on plates of Paradise Biryani, washed down with glasses of Coke, all ready to usher in the new decade.
Not so long after, matrimony saw me transmigrate to Bangalore (not yet christened Bengaluru), a warm-hearted city that embraced me lovingly with open arms.
And by the turn of the year, I was already referring to the city as home, as some friends were quick to observe. (An epithet that neither Delhi nor Hyderabad had been successful in earning)
Life chugged along.
And just as I thought I was settling in, questions that had never ever featured in my head earlier started to rattle me. And before I knew, what started as a string of benign innocent thoughts had snowballed into a deep existential crisis and was compelling me to reflect and re-look at life.
The same corporate job that a decade back was a passport to a propitious career and financial freedom was now an albatross around my neck. The perks and promotions that had so long goaded me to run even faster were suddenly hollow and inconsequential. Mondays no longer lit a twinkle in my eyes and weekends never beckoned me more furiously.
Life was turning claustrophobic.
And I needed a breath of fresh air.
Friends thought I was being irrational and insane.
You have a promising career ahead of you. How silly of you to throw it all away ?
Managers viewed it as a temporary fling.
You’ve been working far too hard, take a break, they advised, the sheer boredom shall propel you to return to work.
I took a break.
And returned more convinced.
And one fine morning, after having spent half my life in the academia followed by industry, I resigned from my job.
To follow my dreams.
And live my own life.
I spent days designing my own Pakhi kanthas. Till the chirps of the doyel, finge and bou-katla-kau reverberated on the tree of life on the yarn.
And the earthy ballads of Maa Manasa and Maa Chandi came alive as I started working with artisans on the exquisite Midnapore Patachitra.
I started cataloging Grandmas recipes, something I had long yearned to do, but never really had the time.
And when gripped by bittersweet nostalgia, I started putting pen on paper to relive the years of childhood.
It’s been such a long journey, I mull this quiet winter afternoon, the current decade ebbing away and a new one all set to dawn, happy and contented for having re-discovered myself and plunged headlong to follow my calling.
Do you repent it ? The inner voice asks.
No, I don’t, the rejoinder is spontaneous.
And what better way to sign off 2019 than to post a recipe of the Railway Mutton Curry, a curry that’s synonymous with journeys ?
The Anglo Indian Railway Mutton Curry. Born to weather the long and arduous train travels in the times of the Raj. Mutton cooked with onions and tomatoes. A melange of spices. And perfumed with a special aromatic spice mix.
And have a happy and healthy 2020 ahead !!!
The Anglo Indian Railway Mutton Curry
- 1 kg mutton curry cut pieces
- 3 potatoes cut into halves
- 3/4 cup tomato freshly pureed
- 5 onion finely chopped
- 1.5 tbsp ginger paste
- 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
- 4-5 green cardamoms
- 2 black cardamom
- 3-4 cloves
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp special spice powder
- 1.5 tsp red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup mustard oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
For the Special Spice Powder
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tbsp black pepper corns
- 3-4 dry red chillies
- 1/2 florets of mace
- 1/4 nutmeg
For the Special Spice Powder
- Dry roast all the ingredients other than the nutmeg and mace. Allow the spices to cool to room temperature. Now add the nutmeg and mace, blitz to a fine powder. Keep aside in an airtight container.
For the Railway Mutton Curry
- Wash and pat dry the mutton pieces. Marinate the mutton with ½ tbsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, a little turmeric powder, chilli powder, lemon juice and 1 tbsp mustard oil. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours, the more the merrier.
- Marinate the potato halves with a little turmeric powder and salt. Heat 1 tbsp oil and fry the potatoes till golden. Keep aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the same pan, add the sugar, when the sugar starts to caramelize, throw in the bay leaves, crushed green and black cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. When the spices start to release their aroma, add the sliced onions, cook over a medium flame till the onions turns golden brown.
- Add the tomato puree, cook till the tomatoes are cooked and the raw smell of tomatoes is gone. Add the remaining ginger-garlic paste, cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Now add the mutton along with the marinade, sprinkle in the the remaining turmeric powder, special spice powder and a little salt.
- Cook over a low flame, while stirring occasionally, till oil starts to separate from the masala. Add 3 cups of warm water, bring the curry to a gentle boil.
- Throw in the fried potatoes, continue to cook over a low flame till the mutton is tender. (The the curry shall be of a pouring consistency, neither too thick, nor too thin.) If needed, add a splash of warm water to get the consistency right.
- Adjust seasonings. Finish with a sprinkle of garam masala. Serve hot with plain rice.