Mutton Rara... the name makes you think, doesn’t it? Why Ra-ra? Why not Ba-ba? Or Fa-fa? There’s definitely got to be a story behind it.
The legend goes that the Chhota Nawab of Awadh, and the Rajkumari of Jaipur were deeply in love with each other. They wished to be together but their families got to know about their secret love affair. The princess was whisked away to a fortress surrounded by deep waters and guarded by an evil witch.
The prince yearned for his beloved, but was unable to get in. The witch was clever and unforgiving, but she had one weakness: mutton. The prince called the finest bawarchis of his great empire for one task: to create a mutton dish so delicious that it would render the witch powerless.
So the dish was prepared near the moat of the bewitched castle. Cooked slowly in whole spices that had made Hindustan famous all over the world—black cardamom, green cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, whole black peppercorns, star anise, cumin seeds and Kashmiri red chillis—as the masalas roasted, deep sensuous aromas arose and wafted through to the fortress. The meat simmered and began to tenderise, and the witch, unable to stop herself, magically transported the pot to her chamber. She loved the preparation so much that she gave the Rajkumari away to the Chhota Nawab. The magnanimous prince named the preparation after the witch, whose name was Rara.
Or so I’d like to believe. But the truth is, it’s most probably a concoction some North Indian dhabawala created for customers trudging across the Grand Trunk Road. The dish, however, is royal and extravagant in every way. It is a double whammy of meat—chopped up mutton leg and minced mutton—and needs to be made with a lot of love and a little bit of effort.
Ingredients 1 cinnamon stick 2 whole black cardamom 4 green cardamoms 4-5 whole black peppercorns 2-3 cloves 1 star anise 1-2 bay leaves 7-8 dry whole red Kashmiri chillis—deseeded and soaked in hot water 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tbsp ginger paste 1 tbsp garlic paste 250 gm mutton mince 500 gm leg of lamb cut into cubes (with bone and all) 2 onions finely chopped 3-4 tomatoes finely chopped 2 tbsp thick curd 1⁄2 tsp turmeric 1 tsp coriander powder 1⁄2 tsp garam masala salt to taste 3 tbsp olive oil coriander to garnish Pour olive oil in a kadai with a heavy base. As the oil begins to smoke, fry all the whole spices till fragrant; add onion, ginger and garlic. Sautee till soft and add mince, fry it well till you can see each grain of the mince. Add tomatoes and keep frying the mixture. Now add mutton pieces as well as the remaining spices. Keep stirring till the tomatoes break in, absorb the spices, and start to form the gravy. Cover with a lid and let it simmer slowly for about 40 minutes, adding water when necessary. When the meat is tender and you begin to see the oil separating from the gravy, add curd; stir and turn off the heat after five minutes.
Garnish with coriander and serve hot with tandoori rotis.
The writer is the author of Aapplemint, a food, travel and photography blog.