The end of summer came with the arrival of the strongest hurricane of the year. Though hurricane Matthew caused no major problems for us, it is suddenly much colder now. We have switched from cold to heat literally overnight. Speaking of the chill in the air, cold lazy days are the perfect time to enjoy hot spicy delicious soups and stews. The cold makes them even more enjoyable. And what better way to soothe the seasonal colds than a bowl of hot tasty and hearty stew.
The city of Hyderabad, India is famous for a lot of things – Pearls, Nawabs and a unique culture specific to this region influenced by the wonderful blend of Hinduism and Islam courtesy of the Nizam dynasty that ruled for more than 400 years. Hyderabadi cuisine is heavily influenced by another major cuisine of India – The Mughlai cuisine. But what makes this cuisine special is its use of whole spices and specific cooking techniques.
One of the most famous dishes of this region of India is the ” Hyderabadi Dum Biryani “. While there are many dishes that accompany biryani, one of the less known but absolutely delicious dish is dalcha, basically a stew made with lentils, mutton, bottle gourd and tamarind pulp. It is generally served at weddings (especially during Muslim weddings) but is equally famous with other religions. It can also be served with seasoned rice called ” bagara rice “. I would not be exaggerating with the claim that any true hyderabadi worth their salt has not heard of this dish.
- 1 lb or 500 gm Mutton
- 1 cup Toor dal / Pigeon pea
- 1 Bottle gourd (small, preferably young)
- Tamarind (size of a lemon)
- 4-5 Green chilies (Hot thai chili)
- 1 Red onion (medium, finely chopped)
- 2 Tomatoes (large, diced)
- 2 Sprigs of mint leaves (finely chopped)
- 1 piece Cinnamon
- 4-5 Cloves
- 4-5 Cardamom
- 1 tbsp Ginger (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp Garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp Ghee / Clarified butter
- 1 tsp Garam masala
- 1 tbsp Red chili powder
- 1/2 tbsp Turmeric powder
- Salt as needed
Prep time 10 min
Cook time 40 min
Passive time 20 min
Recipe level Intermediate
Spice level 4 (On a scale of 1 to 6)
Shelf life 2 – 4 days in refrigerator using an airtight container
Serving suggestion Warm with flavored rice
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I was never a fan of mutton as the tough texture of the meat is something that I cannot handle. So when the hubby made this dish the first time – it was in fact the first time I had ever had this dish. I know – I know – I am one of those hyderabadis who has lived their entire life without trying this amazing dish. I was blown away by the flavor and the meat was cooked so well that it just melted in my mouth. This is among my most favorite dishes now and I will definitely try this at a wedding.
With hearty ingredients like lentils, mutton and flavorful veggies, this dish can be had by itself or with rice – a perfect meal for the upcoming winter days.
- Soak the tamarind in warm water. Wash the lentils and transfer to a pressure cooker.
- Add three cups of water, 1/2 tbsp of ginger garlic paste, 2 slit green chilies and pressure cook until tender. It takes about 3-5 whistles on medium to high heat.
- Mash the lentils and set it aside. Clean the cooker for the next step.
- In the same cooker, on medium heat – add 1 tbsp ghee, rest of the ginger garlic paste and saute until the raw smell is gone.
- Add cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add mutton and brown it on medium-high taking care not to let the ginger garlic paste burn.
- Add 2 cups of water and close the pressure cooker and cook until meat is tender. For 6-8 whistles on medium to high heat. Set it aside.
- While the meat is cooking, in a sauce pan add the remaining ghee, green chilies, turmeric powder, 1/2 tbsp red chili powder and cook for 3-5 mins on medium heat.
- Add the bottle gourd and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Release the remaining pressure from the pressure cooker with the meat, turn on the heat to medium, add the onions and mix well.
- Add the cooked lentils, mint leaves , garam masala and squeeze the tamarind to extract the pulp . Mix everything.
- Add sufficient water, until all the ingredients are submerged.
- Add 1/2 tbsp red chili powder.
- Add salt according to taste. Cover and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles on medium to high heat.
Let it cool, open the lid to a mind blowing aroma of spices meat and vegetables.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the leftovers will be much more delicious and I would actually suggest eating it the next day if you can control yourself 🙂
- I would suggest using a pressure cooker for this recipe as it is much easier and flavorful if the meat and toor dal are cooked very well.
- If you feel that the soup/stew is a little watery, you can heat it further with the lid open to reduce it a little bit. But the soup will thicken the next day.
Have an awesome week everyone !!