Madras to Muscat, this chef has whipped up Chettinad flavours for 19 years
Chef C Pandi has whipped up Chettinad flavours all the way from Madras to Muscat — over the past 19 years. So when The Raintree, Anna Salai set up a masterclass with him in the city recently, we had to go say hello. The chef, who now manages the kitchen at The Bangala in Karaikudi, quickly obliges to walk us through one of his personal favourites, a Mutton Uppu Kari, which he also recommends as lighter preparation for the summer. A quick tip, before he dives in, Chettinadu cuisine is all about its spices and use of fresh and local ingredients. So make sure you have these staples in your cupboard, “Ginger, garlic, khus khus, cashews, roasted gram are key elements that make Chettinad dishes authentic,” he shares.
500 gm boneless mutton | 1/3 cup oil | 15 dry red chili | 1 ½ inch cinnamon sticks | 8 large garlic cloves finely sliced lengthwise | 18-20 medium shallots peeled whole | ½ medium onions, finely chopped | ½ tsp turmeric powder | 1 ½ medium tomatoes, chopped | Salt to taste
● Heat oil in a kadai; when the oil is hot enough but not smoking, add the whole chillis.
● Lower the heat a little and add the cinnamon and sliced garlic. Continue to stir ensuring that the spices do not burn.
● Add the whole shallots, onion and turmeric powder; continue to stir for a minute or two till the onions have softened lightly.
● Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes till it has softened and starts to release the juices. Then add the mutton pieces and season with salt. Stir and cook without any water for another 4-5
● Add one cup of water and bring to boil. Then keep covered and simmer on low heat for 40-45 minutes or until the meat has become tender. Stir occasionally.
● Once the meat is almost done, remove lid and braise till all the water has evaporated, meat has darkened and the sauce has coated it.
● Serve warm with a traditional South Indian meal.
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