The simplicity of this Pakistani Punjab dish is a celebration of what the land provides.
My mother’s family come from Pakistani Punjab, where flavours are simple and no meat stew is cooked without a vegetable. This is a land of agriculture and seasonal produce, and the simplicity of this dish is not a failing, but a celebration of what the land provides (without it being masked by spice). Aloo gosht is so revered in Punjab that poetry has been written about it. This recipe has been passed on by my mother’s cousin, Tanveer Khala, and has graced many family meals.
vegetable oil 50ml
red onion 1 large, finely chopped
ginger 1cm piece, peeled and grated
garlic 2 cloves, minced
mutton 1kg with bone, cut into 5-6cm chunks
salt 1-2 tsp
ground turmeric ½ tsp
paprika 1 tsp (not smoked)
red chilli powder 1 tsp
vegetable oil 3-4 tbsp
tomatoes 2 medium, finely chopped
coriander seeds 1 tsp, dry-roasted and ground
maris piper potatoes 500g, peeled and quartered
garam masala 1 tsp
coriander leaves 2 tbsp, chopped
green chillies 2, finely chopped
plain basmati rice or naan bread
Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid over a medium heat. When hot, add the onions, ginger and garlic and cook for 7-8 minutes until the onions are light brown. Add the mutton pieces, salt, turmeric, paprika and red chilli powder then add 150ml water and reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan with the lid and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the mutton is tender and the curry is reddish brown, checking the water has not dried up – if it does add about 4 teaspoons of water to ensure that the mutton is just covered.
Increase the heat to medium high, add the vegetable oil, tomatoes and ground coriander seeds. Stir-fry to allow the oil in the pan to cook through the tomatoes and create a thick red sauce with oil separating and rising to the surface of the curry.
Add the potatoes and 200-300ml water, depending on how watery you prefer the curry (traditionally it is quite watery), then reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. The curry should be red, with oil rising to the surface, but watery. If this has not happened yet, keep the saucepan on a very low heat for a further 5-10 minutes, but make sure not to overcook the potatoes.
Turn off the heat, cover with the lid and let the curry simmer in its own heat for about 10 minutes before serving. When ready to serve, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with garam masala, chopped coriander and chopped green chillies. This is best served with plain basmati rice or naan bread.
From Summers Under the Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani (Frances Lincoln, £25)
Usmani, Sumayya. (2021, January 25). Aloo gosht – Punjabi mutton and potato curry by Sumayya Usmani. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/jan/25/20-best-curry-recipes-sumayya-usmani-punjabi-mutton-and-potato-curry-aloo-gosht