Spicy Mutton Curry - also known as " Mansa Tarkari "


Ask any Oriya what makes her or him most nostalgic thinking about a lazy Sunday afternoon growing up and they would say the aromatic smell of pot cooked mutton (mansa) the secret recipe handed down from mother to daughter. The sons accompanying their dads and uncles to the butcher (the local mutton vendor) arguing over the cuts and to add some liver and to hold the fat

Times have changed, places have changed and we have traded a lot to be what we are today and yet something’s never change. Like the aroma of the foods that our mother so lovingly cooked the cricket matches that went on forever and the love that warmed the hearts. This recipe originally comes from the kitchens of the Nawabs that once occupied Kalinga and perhaps this is one of their better remembered legacies.Unlike the mutton curry from the rest of India, this specialty requires the overnight marinade of the cuts and then the slow cooking of the mutton (traditionally this was done in earthen pots over wood fired cow dung plastered home made ovens in the backyard where it would not touch the vegetables in the Handishala (kitchen). With no earthen pots I have had to rather reluctantly use the non stick cookware to cook the mutton to its succulent best by preserving the traditional spices that give it the nostalgic remembrance.I have also tired to make a small variation by holding off the water to make the gravy more thick to be in times with the modern day food styles. Another important variation is not using the fat of the mutton to cook it as well one has to watch one’s heart over one’s tongue.

I recently came across a wonderful article in the reader digest that marinating meat not only enhance the taste but also helps in lowering the unhealthy cholesterol compounds that form during cooking.


500gms Mutton/ lamb cut into pieces

½ cup yogurt

2 onions medium sized grind into a paste with dried 2 to3 red chilies

3 tomatoes cut into pieces

1 tblsp garlic paste

1 tbslp ginger paste

1tsp black whole pepper

3 to4 cloves

1 inch cinnamon stick

3 to4 cardamom pods

1tbslp cumin powder

1 tbslp coriander powder

1tbslp turmeric

1 tbslp Garam masala

2 potatoes cut into big chinks

2 tbslp Vegetable oil

Salt to taste.

Chopped coriander ( optional)

Method .

Wash and clean the mutton and trim the excess fat. Marinate it with yogurt and salt for over night in the fridge.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add slightly crushed pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon. when they start spluttering, add the onion paste, sauté till the onion is done and it does not have raw smell. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté till the tomatoes are blended well. Add the dry masala and salt excluding the garam masala. When the masala is cooked thoroughly add potatoes and marinated mutton pieces (drain the excess liquid from the mariantion).

Keep stirring it on medium fire for approx ten mins. Keep sprinkling water so that the masala doesn’t stick to the pan . Finally add 2/3 cup of water and cover with a lid that’s fits well . Cook on a slow fire for approx 45 mins. Keep checking in between and stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t get dry. Add more warm water if the gravy gets more dry. Finally check if the mutton is well cooked and add the Garam masala and chopped coriander.

Serve hot with plain rice or Jeera ( cumin ) rice. It is delectable.


Kitchen notes . Cooking on a slow fire imparts a great flavor.

If the meat is tough, just add ground raw papaya paste to the marinated meat just couple of hours before cooking. If the raw papaya is not available use ripe papaya skin paste. It is a great natural meat tenderizer