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 (gluten-free).
About Railway Mutton Curry
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 longer served in the railways but has so much history to it.
It basically involves boiled mutton pieces cooked in a spicy onion, tomato, and potato curry, whose flavors are mellowed down with the help of coconut milk.
You can make this curry in a traditional stovetop pressure cooker or in an instant pot. You can easily scale the recipe too.
I used my 3-quart instant pot (or a 3-liter stovetop pressure cooker). If scaling the recipe, use a bigger instant pot or pressure cooker. The time of cooking will remain the same.
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
- Bhuna Gosht
- Mutton Keema Kaleji
- Kosha Mangsho
- Saag Gosht
History Of Railway Mutton Curry
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 mutton curry and a 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 it down 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’s name, he called it the Railway Mutton Curry and that’s how the dish got its name.
Mutton – The traditional railway curry uses bone-in goat’s mutton. You can use lamb meat in place of goat.
If you don’t like bone-in pieces, then use boneless mutton cut into 1and ½ inch pieces.
Potatoes – This curry just like Bengali mutton curry uses big pieces of potatoes. They add a nice soft bite to the curry along with mutton.
Potatoes are cooked in the curry itself, therefore you do not have to boil them. Just peel and half them to add to the curry.
Coconut Milk – It is used to mellow down the spicy curry.
You can either use store-bought coconut milk or make it at home. I have mentioned the process of making coconut milk at home in the post below.
Oil – For an authentic flavor, make this curry in mustard oil.
If not mustard oil, you can use any vegetable oil or even ghee to make this delicious mutton curry.
Whole Spices – You will need whole spices such as bay leaves (tejpatta), cloves (laung), green cardamoms (hari elaichi), black cardamoms (badi elaichi), fennel seeds (saunf), cumin seeds, and dry red chilies.
Spices – Other than whole spices you will also need some everyday spice powders such as coriander powder, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, cumin powder, and salt.
You can increase the amount of red chili powder if you want the curry to be spicier.
Tamarind Pulp – Traditionally tamarind pulp or white vinegar was added to add tang to this curry to ensure it lasted for a longer time.
Others – You will also need red onions, ginger garlic paste, and cilantro (fresh coriander leaves).
How To Make Railway Mutton Curry
Cook The Mutton
Rinse 2 pounds (1 kg) of bone-in goat mutton (cut into 1 and ½ inch pieces) and add it to a pressure cooker.
Add 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoon salt and stir gently.
Close the lid and pressure cook for 1 whitle on high heat. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally.
Note – You can also cook the mutton in an instant pot. Add mutton, 1 cup of water, and salt in an instant pot and secure the lid. Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 20 minutes at high pressure. Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
Make The Curry
While the mutton is cooking, make the curry.
Heat 5 tablespoon mustard oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 cloves
- 2-3 green cardamoms
- 2 black cardamoms
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2-3 dry red chilies
and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
Add 1 and ½ cups of thinly sliced red onions and cook until they turn slightly brown (7-8 minutes), stirring frequently.
Add 2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste and cook until onions turn nicely brown.
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low.
Add the cooked mutton along with the broth and 2 potatoes (peeled and cut into half). Mix well.
Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked well, stirring a few times while cooking.
Add 1 tablespoon tamarind paste and 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Now add 1 cup of coconut milk and cook until the curry comes to a gentle simmer.
Check for salt and add more if needed.
Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with steamed rice or roti.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this curry can be made with chicken instead of mutton.
Just keep in mind that chicken takes less time than mutton to cook, so cook accordingly.
You can cook chicken in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles on high heat. Then remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure naturally. Open the lid. Then follow the rest of the recipe the same way.
Burani Raita also goes really well with it. 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 airtight container.
Reheat it in a pan or in the microwave until the mutton pieces along with the curry are nice and warm.
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Railway Mutton Curry Recipe
- 2 pounds bone-in goat mutton (1 kg, cut into 1 and ½ inch pieces)
- 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 5 tablespoons mustard oil (or any other cooking oil)
- 2 bay leaves (tejpatta)
- 2-3 cloves (laung)
- 2-3 green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
- 2 black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2-3 dry red chilies
- 1 and ½ cups thinly sliced onions
- 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
- 2 potatoes (peeled and cut into half)
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp (or 1 tablespoon white vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
- 1 cup coconut milk
Cook The Mutton
- Rinse mutton and add it to a pressure cooker.
- Add 2 cups of water and salt and stir gently.
- Close the lid and pressure cook for 1 whitle on high heat. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally.
- Note – You can also cook the mutton in an instant pot. Add mutton, 1 cup of water, and salt in an instant pot and secure the lid. Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 20 minutes at high pressure. Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
Make The Curry
- While the mutton is cooking, make the curry.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add bay leaves, cloves, green cardamoms, black cardamoms, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and dry red chilies, and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
- Add onions and cook until they turn slightly brown (7-8 minutes), stirring frequently.
- Add ginger garlic paste and cook until onions turn nicely brown.
- Now add coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, and cumin powder, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the cooked mutton along with the broth and potatoes. Mix well.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked well, stirring a few times while cooking.
- Add tamarind paste and cilantro and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Now add coconut milk and cook until the curry comes to a gentle simmer.
- Check for salt and add more if needed.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with steamed rice or roti.