Chefs of the past reflect India’s multicultural culinary mosaic – The New Indian Express

Anam Hassan’s mother gave him a secret weapon: a unique mutton ishtoo cooked in his Mughal aristocratic house once upon a time. India is the land of multi-avatar stew, the simplest of complex dishes to spruce up any table. There are as many kinds as there are spellings: ishtoo, ishtu, ishtew, stoo — made with various kinds of meat such as beef, lamb, goat, chicken, and game. The ishtoos of Rampur, Lucknow, Bhopal, Bengal and Kerala differ in color, taste and texture.

The main difference between Kerala ishtu and ishtoo is the base – the first is coconut milk and coconut oil, and the second is onion and ghee. Their common point is the sweetness of the flavor. Ishtoo uses whole spices such as cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg. It has a defined texture and aroma, with its grainy feel of chopped onion and its scent of sifted garlic. Kerala smells of coconut and chopped onion; its non-vegetarian version is thicker and heavier to consume. In both stews, the meat is served on the bone.

A lasting gift from Indian royalty is food. The receipts were guarded with as much zeal as a eunuch protecting a harem. The Delhi Sultanate is the sous chef of Mughal cuisine, which has absorbed influences from Persia, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Punjab and Deccan. Rampuri cuisine is subtle and refined, as saffron and other spices are used sparingly.

Oil too. Rampur Mutton Stew, born in the kitchens of Nawab of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, has the subtle scent of slow cooked mutton with sweet and dry red chillies, black pepper and black cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, coriander and cumin seeds, with nutmeg, mace and cinnamon powders. The curd is commonly used in its preparation.

The cuisine honors Indo-Islamic gastronomy by borrowing and adapting Awadhi, Mughal and Afghan cuisine which shares similarities with dishes from Delhi, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Shahjahanpur, a reason why ishtoo is often mistaken for a purely dish. Mughal. “Mughal cuisine in restaurants, including Old Delhi, is drastically different from what we cook at home. Restaurant food is rich in oil and spices, and is very rich, ”says Hassan. Awadhi preparations use kevda, itar and rose water as the chefs have emphasized the scent and flavor.

Indo-Islamic cuisine is a great gastronomic mosaic, spanning from Kerala, Hyderabad to central India. Bengal cuisine, heavily influenced by its Islamic and colonial past, has its own version of the stew, the white mutton stew as mentioned in Rakamari Amish Ranna, the famous Bengali cookbook by Renuka Debi Choudhurani. The bones are blanched to make sure the sauce is white. Instead of coconut milk, cow’s milk is used in making this white stew.

Many culinary experts argue that ishtoo is a Mughal interpretation of the bland British stew, which Shah Jehan spiced up. India’s stews are enough to demonstrate its eclectic culture, which has absorbed and reinvented outdoor cuisines like its own.


● 1 cup of oil
● 1 kg of mutton with bone
● 400 g onion
● 250 g of curd
● 6 teaspoons of ground coriander
● 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
● 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
● 6-7 whole dry red peppers cut into large pieces
● 6-7 cloves
● 6-7 green cardamom
● 2-3 black cardamom
● 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
● 5-6 whole garlic cloves
● 1 whole ginger, julienned

● Sauté the onions in a generous amount of oil, close to a cup
● Once the onions are soft, add all the ingredients and the meat
● Add half a cup of water if necessary
● Stir and cook under pressure with a whistle
● The real trick is bhuno, that is, until the oil separates and the sauce containing spices and caramelized onions

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