Chapter 3 – Khatta Sherva

This is a staple of most homes, a ready reckoner when you don’t want to unsubscribe from the belief that Muslims cannot do without mutton in their food.  Truth be told, it’s very simple to make and holds its own during lunch, dinner or breakfast. I’m not so fond of it with rice but with crisp dosa(cheela) or chawal ki roti, this salan is probably the best combination on this earth. Something about the rice disguised in the dosa or roti complements the piquancy of this salan, off setting it wonderfully. You’ll sit back and realise with shock that you’ve eaten much more than what you usually do, just because you can’t stop eating!

“‘Imli. It’s sour and unpalatable, although most people won’t
agree to that last bit,’ she had said importantly, as she smothered
it in hot water and squeezed it rhythmically. ‘But you put it in the
salan, especially this one, and it changes everything,’ she ended,
looking at Suman’s oval face, her almond-shaped eyes, thinking
that she was the imli in their family.”

Khatta Sherva (Piquant Mutton Curry)

200 to 250 gms mutton, cleaned and trimmed

3 medium sized ripe tomatoes

2 medium sized onions

6-7 curry leaves

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

salt to taste

1 tsp dhania powder

3/4 tsp zeera methi powder *

1 tbsp ground coconut

a walnut sized round of tamarind, soaked in water


  1. Make a puree of the tomatoes along with 1 and half onions. Slice the remaining half onion and keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves. Add the sliced onions and stir until they start turning slightly brown. The oil, of course, should be more than the onions need. (goes without saying but I’m saying it anyhow!)
  3. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir and then the mutton pieces. Add the red chilli powder and allow the mutton to sear for a little while.
  4. Add the remaining masalas – salt, dhania powder and zeera methi powder. Stir well so that the raw masala smell is gone.
  5. Pour the pureed tomatoes and onions and allow it to cook until oil separates.
  6. Add the ground coconut and water as required, and close the lid of the pressure cooker.
  7. Once the mutton is cooked, open the pressure cooker and add the tamarind pulp.
  8. Let the curry simmer for a while before switching off gas.

*Zeera Methi powder is not available in stores. It’s a homemade masala that is also used in rasam to give it a special kick. Roast 1 tsp of whole zeera, 1/4 tsp of methi seeds and 1/2 tsp of rice on a tawa. Cool and grind to a powder and use in the salan above.



Well, what did you think? Tell tell!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s