There are many things I look forward to at Christmas.
The family coming together to put up the tree and hang other decorations around the house.
Tasty delicacies like crunchy, deep-fried achappams or rose cookies (my mom still has the moulds my grandmother and her mother would use), traditional plum cake, coconut squares, my aunt’s famous Milk Pudding and Mom’s hugely delicious mutton stew with appams served for breakfast.
There are also other goodies like vattayappam (steamed rice cakes), puffs,rava or semolina and rice laddoos, murukku and kuzhalappams.
Christmas lunch is an elaborate affair which starts with fish fry, followed by chicken/buff cutlets and buff roast/fry/chilly.
Then there is Meen Molee (fish in coconut curry), Nadan Kori or chicken curry, Duck or Tharavu Roast/curry/fry, Karimeen Pollichatu (fried pearl spot fish), vegetable thorans, steamed nendra-pazham (Kerala-style steamed bananas) or the fried version nendra-pazham porichathu, and chicken or Malabar biryani.
My folks now sometimes prefer something lighter like vegetable pulav or steamed rice instead of biryani.
The meal ends inavariably with custard or bread pudding.
- 1 kg mutton, cut into medium-sized pieces, washed, drained
- ½ kg potatoes, washed, peel on, whole
- 4 large onions, chopped + 1 onion, sliced and fried for garnishing
- 20 black peppercorns
- 1 small stick dal cheeni or cinnamon, broken into small pieces
- 6 laung or cloves
- 2 javitri or mace flowers
- 2 green elaichi or cardamom seeds, crushed
- 1-inch piece ginger, crushed
- 2 green chillies, slit in half lengthwise
- 2 tej patta or bay leaves, torn
- 2 cups thick fresh coconut milk extract (preferably second and third milk or extract)
- 3 tbsp cornflour or wheat flour
- ½ cup water
- Salt to taste, about 2 tsp
- Grind or crush the peppercorns.
Rub onto the mutton pieces.
Keep aside for ½ hour to 1 hour
- In a large saucepan, bring 4-5 cups water to a boil and add the potatoes, without chopping or peeling them.
Cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes.
Don’t overcook — they should be firm and not mushy.
Take off heat and cool.
Peel and cut the potatoes into medium-sized pieces.
- Add the mutton pieces into a pressure cooker and heat over low heat.
Oil is not required.
Add the crushed ginger, bay leaves.
Add the cinnamon, mace flower, cardamom.
Let the spices fry for 15 minutes with the mutton without covering.
Then add the onions, green chillies.
Add 1 cup of the coconut milk.
It needs to be thick — don’t dilute with water.
Cover and turn the heat up to high.
After 1 whistle, reduce heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes.
If the mutton is tender, it will cook faster.
Take off heat and let the pressure release naturally and then open the cooker.
When cool, add the boiled potatoes to the mutton stew.
- Heat the mutton stew in the cooker, without the lid, over low heat.
- In a small saucepan whisk the cornflour or the wheat flour with the water till smooth.
Warm over low heat and keep stirring until it turns light brown in colour.
If it becomes too thick, slowly add a little more water and stir continuously till a thick paste.
Make sure there are no lumps.
Add the cornflour paste to the mutton stew.
- Stir well.
Add the remaining coconut milk.
Take off heat and garnish with the fried onions.
Serve warm with bread or appams.
- REDIFF RECIPES
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