Thursday, September 3, 2009

ishtoo... the way we had at Al Jawahar

Purani dilli is the treasure trove of authentic Mughlai food and I had my first experience of EOiD with a few fellow bloggers. Pamella Timms of eat and dust and Hemanshu of Eating out in Delhi........I was inside the Jama masjid for the first time in my life ( for any masjid for that matter), it felt good. I never believe much in ritualistic prayers but witnessing a sea of people praying simultaneously fills you up with a different kind of energy, the jama masjid was truly majestic under the evening twilight.........

The food we had at Al Jawahar was another high , especially for me , as I actually don't remember when was the last time I went out eating ( take-aways not counting...:))....

Apart from other things we had, I was very curious about the mutton stew as one of our blogger friends was almost selling the stew....recommending everybody to try the stew as she had loved it on an earlier visit........awesome it was ...with the fluffy tandoori roti to sponge off the gravy.....I got it packed for Arvind and he loved it ..

I had to try this and Arvind was quick to bring some mutton today expecting the ishtoo........:):)
before going to the recipe, I must tell you that the stew at Al Jawahar was laden with dalda and almost half a cup was floating on top of the gravy (got a stomach upset as I am not used to oily and heavy stuff).........the thing to note here is , that it is easier to bring out the aroma of the spices in a fatty medium , so when you use a lot of fat to cook something like this , the aromatic essential oils of the spices get extracted in the fat very well, also , slow cooking improves the flavor as more aromatic oils are extracted in the cooking medium on low heat and in a longer time...........

This stew is a delicately flavored dish and the spices are dominant with their top notes....( the base notes of the spices make the gravy more hot)..

Stewing is done with cooking the spices and the meat simultaneously in onion paste , some water and fat....releasing the top notes of the spices only.........(when we crackle the spices in hot oil, the base notes also come to the cooking medium) here , if you need the gravy hot, you need a bit more spices than mentioned.......mine was hotter than the restaurant though..........


(serves two)

mutton 250 gm
whole red chillies 4 nos.
cumin seeds 1 tsp
whole coriander seeds 1.5 tsp
fennel seeds 1.5 tsp
whole peppercorns 20-25 nos.
green cardamom seeds and skin separated 2 nos.
black cardamom a few seeds only ( about 1/4 of a whole pod)
a small cinnamon stick
half a star anise ( optional, i am just obsessed by it)
cloves 4 nos.
a small sliver of mace
salt to taste
ghee 1 tbsp
fresh cream 1 tbsp ( i used home made malai)

to be minced in a processor or chopper

2 big onions
an inch piece of ginger chopped
7-8 small cloves of Indian garlic

to be made into a fine paste
1.5 tbsp of melon seeds ( magaz in urdu and kharbuze ka beej in hindi)
100 gm of thick curds


first of all cut the chillies with a scissor and remove the seeds..

now, place everything except cream and the magaz-curd paste into a pressure cooker with a cup of water and cook covered with a plate( not the cooker lid) for about 20 minutes on very low flame till the mutton pieces change color and a light aroma of spices starts wafting through...

cover with the cooker lid and allow pressure cook till done ( takes about 20 more minutes).

take off fire and let the pressure the lid and add the magaz-curd paste and simmer on very low flame for another 20 minutes ..

finish with cream...mix well and serve with any fluffy flat bread you can get hold of..

I felt like cheating when I added a tbsp of tomato ketchup as the stew at AJ was a bit sweet....I had seen in TV shows that they add tomato ketchup for a more rounded was good as it was so similar to what I wanted to achieve...:):)

I made a khameeri ulte tawe ki roti which was perfect , made with whole wheat fermented with yeast...I'll post a detail procedure when I make it again as the picture is not very clear this time.....

If you want the stew to be a bit mild you can reduce the quantity of spices , or increase the amount of ghee and cream used or interestingly, it becomes milder and tastier the next you like it.


  1. Hi Dear! wow u went to Purani Dilli. Great, I am yet to visit. Have heard and read so much about it. Great food!
    I guess I can make a veg version of the stew using less spices.

  2. Woa! That was quite a culinary adventure and you are a brave soul. Love the recipe but will take a lot of guts on my part to cook it. :) Will let you know if I do.

  3. hi Sangeeta,
    That was a fab read and quite an interesting one must say :) love to read about your vists and food adventures you have the skill to exprees it gal;)keep it up!
    Thanks for sharing a unusal recipe( for me it is)
    keep rocking

  4. gravy with lots of aromatic spices.....must have tatsed heaven...

  5. That's what I love good old Delhi for ... great places to eat. Unfortunately with my in-laws, I have to stick to the veggie areas. Have to get hubby to take me to the parathawali galli once .. and also purani dilli. :-)
    Has been ages since I soaked up oily gravy with a bit of tandoori roti. Aaaah! :-) Hope your tummy is fine now. :-)

  6. Sorry I missed reading this post earlier.You had a blogger meet up?gr8!. So glad you got a glance of the masjid.The mutton gravy with all the spices and slow cooking(except the fatty dalda) must have been so flavorful.I almost never add ghee in any of the curries,think you know the reason.But I do love to spread on flatbreads and sprinkle on rice :)