Made especially for the elite class traveling in First Class compartments of Indian railways during the pre-independence time, Railway Mutton Curry is a milder take on the spicy Indian Mutton Curry. Here is how to make it.
If you are looking for more Mutton Recipes, here are some of my other favorites – Mutton Korma, Mutton Rara, Mutton Kulambu, Punjabi Mutton Curry, Authentic Kashmiri Mutton Rogan Josh, Mughlai Mutton Stew, and Bhuna Gosht.
About This Recipe
Railway Mutton Curry, as the name suggests has its origin from the Indian Railways. Served in the first-class coaches of Indian Railways during Pre Independence or British Raj times, this mutton curry is a mellowed down version of the spicy Indian Mutton Curry.
The spice level was toned down from the use of coconut milk to suit the palate of the sahibs traveling in the first-class compartments of Indian railways.
This curry is no more served in the railways now but has so much history to it.
It basically involves boiled mutton pieces cooked nicely in a spicy onion, tomato, and potato curry, whose flavors are mellowed down with the help of coconut milk.
Traditionally tamarind or vinegar was added to this curry to ensure it lasted for a longer time, but I was short on tamarind and hence used tomatoes instead as a souring agent.
The railway canteens in the eastern side of the country prepared it differently from the ones in the north and also from the ones in the south.
This Mutton Curry is,
- Full of Flavour
- Easy to make
- Perfect for special occasions
The story behind this curry goes like this.
It was during the pre-independence days, when the Indian cooks in Frontier Mail run by the Western Railways, were preparing a meal for themselves after a busy service to the guests in the first class.
It was then a British officer while traveling First class reached the pantry for a midnight snack, following the fragrance of the food being cooked.
Taken by surprise, the chef offered him the mangsho jhol (Mutton Curry) and the stale dinner roll.
As soon as, the officer took its first bite, he burnt his tongue.
The officer demanded to mellow down the curry and the chef was generous enough to mellow down the curry with some coconut milk, thereby reducing the pungency of the spices.
The officer left the pantry satisfied, but when he visited again and could not remember the dish name, he called it the Railway Mutton Curry and that’s how the dish got its name.
Mutton – The traditional railway curry uses Goat’s Mutton. Wash and clean the mutton well, before cooking it. You can use lamb as well.
Potatoes – This Curry just like Bengali mutton Curry uses big pieces of potatoes. It adds a nice soft bite in the curry along with mutton.
Potatoes are cooked in the curry itself, therefore you do not have to boil the. Just peel and half them to add in the curry.
Coconut Milk – Use thin coconut milk to mellow down the spicy flavors of this curry. If you have thick coconut milk, add in some water to thin it out before adding in the railway mutton curry.
You can either use store-bought coconut milk or make it at home. I have mentioned below the process to make coconut milk at home.
Oil – For an authentic flavor, make this curry in mustard oil. But make sure you heat the mustard oil until it is smoking hot, otherwise, it will give a raw flavor to your curry.
If not mustard oil, you can use any vegetable oil or even ghee to make this delicious mutton curry.
Whole Spices – We will add in some wholes spices in the hot oil such as bay leaves, cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and dry red chilies so that they release the flavor and enhance the taste of the curry.
Spices – Other than whole spices, we will need some everyday spice powders such as coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, and salt.
You can increase the amount of red chilli powder, if you want the curry to be spicy.
Tomatoes – Traditionally vinegar or tamarind is used to increase the shelve life of the same, but you can even use tomatoes just like I have used in the curry.
Others – Apart from the above ingredients you will need onions, ginger garlic paste, and fresh coriander. Make sure you cook the onions until they are nicely browned, for the best taste.
Step by Step Recipe
Pressure cook the mutton with 2 cups of water and 2 tsp salt until 80% cooked in a pressure cooker. Remove the cooker from heat and keep aside.
Heat mustard oil in a pan.
Once the oil is hot, add bay leaves, cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and dry red chilies and let them crackle for a few seconds.
Add onion and fry until they turn slightly brown.
Add ginger garlic paste and fry until onion turns nicely brown.
Now add potatoes, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, and salt to taste and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup water and cover the pan.
Cover and cook until potatoes are softened.
Add tomato (or tamarind) and fresh coriander and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add the cooked mutton along with the broth and cook for 10-12 minutes on low heat.
Now add coconut milk and cook on low heat until the curry comes to a gentle simmer.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with steamed rice or roti.
Frequently Asked Questions
The basic difference between Railway Mutton Curry and Bengali Kosha Mangsho is that the latter is a lot spicy than the former one, which has a mild flavor.
Railway mutton curry is prepared with boiled mutton pieces, whereas mutton in kosha mangsho is nicely marinated with some curd and aromatic spices for about 8 long hours so that the spices are properly absorbed in the mutton.
The mutton pieces were boiled before adding them in the curry just for the sake of convenience. When you are making a curry for thousands of people and that too in a train’s kitchen, you just improvise on cooing methods.
If you are looking to make coconut milk at home, let me tell you it is a very easy process and also free of preservatives.
To begin, take a fresh coconut. Break it open and take out the coconut water in a glass and keep it aside for other use. Next, take out the white flesh from the coconut and grate it using a hand grater.
Once done, add the grated coconut in a blender along with 1 cup of water and blend it till the coconut is blended well along the water. Pour the coconut mixture in a bowl lined with a thin muslin or fine strainer.
Strain the coconut milk and press the coconut mixture towards the strainer using the back of the spoon or your hand, so that all the milk is strained away.
This is the 1st extract, which is thick and can be used to add in the curries at the end for a creamy texture or even in milkshakes and desserts.
Now you can add some water in the discarded coconut mixture and grind again. Strain and here you have thin coconut milk.
Yes, if your prefer Chicken over Mutton, you can go ahead and prepare the curry with Chicken. Just follow the same process and substitute Mutton with Chicken. Other ingredients will remain the same.
But just keep in mind that chicken takes less time than mutton to cook, so cook accordingly, otherwise the chicken will become chewy due to overcooking.
Burani Raita also goes really well with it. Also serve some sliced onions and lemon wedges on the side.
Railway Mutton Curry will last in the fridge for 2 days, when stored in an air tight container. Reheat it in a pan or in microwave until the mutton pieces along with the curry are nice and warm.
Railway Mutton Curry Recipe
- 1 kg Goat Mutton (Curry Cut)
- 5 tbsp Mustard Oil
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2-3 Cloves
- 2-3 Green Cardamom
- 2 Black Cardamom
- 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 2-3 Dry Red Chillies
- 1 and 1/2 Cup Onion (Thinly Sliced)
- 2 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 2 Potatoes (Peeled and cut into half)
- 2 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
- 1 tsp Roasted Cumin Powder
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup Tomato (Chopped. Tamarind was used as souring agent in the trains. I was out of it, so used tomatoes. Feel free to replace tomatoes with 1 tbsp tamarind paste.)
- 2 tbsp Fresh Coriander (Chopped)
- 1 cup Coconut Milk
- Pressure cook the mutton with 2 cups of water and 2 tsp salt until 80% cooked in a pressure cooker.
- Remove the cooker from heat and keep aside.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan.
- Once the oil is hot, add bay leaves, cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and dry red chillies and let them crackle for a few seconds.
- Add onion and fry until they turn slightly brown.
- Add ginger garlic paste and fry until onion turns nicely brown.
- Now add potatoes, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and salt to taste and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup water and cover the pan.
- Cook until potatoes are softened.
- Add tomato (Or Tamarind) and fresh coriander and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the cooked mutton along with the broth and cook for 10-12 minutes on low heat.
- Now add coconut milk and cook on low heat until the curry comes to a gentle simmer.
- Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with steamed rice or roti.