Kayasthas were closely associated with the Mughals as administrators, courtiers, and record keepers. Kayastha cuisine is a unique blend of Muslim and Hindu influences. The Mutton Pasanda recipe is a wonderful example of the syncretic Ganga–Jamuni culture of the Kayasthas of Shahjahanabad. Red meat predominates in most Kayastha recipes because of the Mughal influence. Most Kayastha recipes make a sophisticated and discerning use of spices, and elaborate cooking methods, including dum (steaming), bhuna (roasting), and dhungar (smoking).
The word pasanda is derived from the Urdu word ‘pasand’ meaning preferred. Pasanda was originally made with leg of lamb or goat flattened into strips. After the meat was cut into thin slices and flattened, it was placed in a marinade consisting of yogurt, chili powder, and numerous spices and seasonings.
These days people use papaya as a tenderiser for pasanda but originally the cooks of the royal houses of Awadh and Delhi uses another traditional tenderiser, kachri powder, made from indigenous wild berries found in Rajasthan.
The elaborate way in which Pasanda is cooked shows that it was a dish cooked for kings and nawabs.
Cutting mutton slices for pasanda is a fast disappearing art, only some butchers in old Delhi can get the slices perfect. Most butchers do not know anything about pasandas. Currently, I am staying in Ahmedabad and I found that most people use normal long cuts use for pasanda. It took me a long time to explain to the butcher what I wanted, still I did not get perfect slices.
Today, people make pasanda in a very simple way. But Nani and Mummy made pasanada in typical Mughali style. They filled the pasanda roll with dry fruit paste and keema, with lots of other masala. In today’s recipe, I have filled pasanda rolls only with masala. The recipe looks very difficult to make but you will find it surprisingly easy once you actually make it. And, you will feel downright royal after making this royal dish.
PREP TIME: 5 to 6 hrs
COOKING TIME: 1 to 1.5 hrs
TOTAL TIME: 6 to 7 hrs.
COURSE: MAIN COURSE
SERVES: 4 persons
INGREDIENTS FOR MUTTON PASANDE:
Mutton (of thigh pieces) – 450 gm boneless mutton, or lamb, (boneless raan – pasanda cut), cut into thin long strips
Curd – 150 to 200 ml
Roasted gram flour or roasted chana flour – 2 to 3 tablespoons
Ghee 90 gm (around 1½ cup). You can also take half ghee and half oil.
Onion – 300gm (sliced and fried) ( ½ for marination and ½ for gravy)
Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
Coriander powder- 1½ tsp
Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
Cumin seeds powder – ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder – ¾ tsp
Salt to taste
Green cardamoms – 2 to 3 crushed
Chopped coriander leaves – 3 to 4 tbsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Almond, cashew, melon seeds, poppy seeds paste - 2 tbsp
MASALA FOR MARINATION:
Soaked almonds – 5 to 6
Khuskhus (poppy seeds) - 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 3 to 4
Melon seeds (magaj ke beej) - 1 tbsp
Kachri powder/Raw papaya paste – 1 tbsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Curd – 2 tbsp
Fried onion – 150 gm
Coriander and cumin seeds powder – 1 ½ tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Bhuna besan or roasted gram powder – 1 ½ tsp
Make a fine paste with almonds, cashew, melon seeds, and poppy seeds. Use half for marination and use half in gravy.
HOW TO FLATTEN PASANDA STRIPS:
1. While buying mutton, ask your butcher to cut mutton pieces in pasanda strips.
2. When you start making pasanda, take one pasand strip at a time. Place it on a chopping board or a kitchen slab. (This is a typical recipe of old Delhi kayasthas, taken from the Mughals. Very few people use this recipe for making pasanda and mutton is to be cut in a special way which is not possible at all places. I could not get the special thin pieces in Ahmedabad. The mutton strips used by me are somewhat thick. The quality of pasanda depends on the thinness of the mutton slices.)
3. Now use a mallet to pound the individual meat strips till they become very thin but do not fall apart.
4. After that score the pasanda strip with sharp knife.
5. Place all the pieces in a plate. Add raw papaya paste and salt, mix well and keep them aside. Marinate for 1 hour.
HOW TO MARINATE PASANDA STRIPS:
1. First, grind posta dana in a dry grinder, because posta dana is little difficult to grind.
2. Add soaked almonds, cashew, and melon seeds with poppy seeds and add a little water. Make a paste. keep all the ingredients ready for marination.
3. Now take the pasanda strips, add half the almond cashew paste (keep aside half the paste for gravy), 2 tsp ginger garlic paste, half the quantity of fried onion, curd, salt, coriander cumin seeds powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder. (Pasanda takes a lot of time in marination and cooking. If you want to reduce the marination time, you can add raw papaya paste with the other ingredients of marination masalas.)
4. Mix the pasanda strips with the masala.
5. Roll the strips after all sides of the strips are well covered with masala.
6.Tie the rolls with a thin string so that the rolls do not open while cooking.
7. After the rolls are ready, cover them and put them in a fridge for 5 to 6 hours.
(You can marinate the rolls for a lesser time but then cooking time would increase because pasandas are not cooked in a pressure cooker.)
HOW TO MAKE PASANDE:
1. Place a wok or kadhai on high heat. Add ghee and oil. Once the ghee is hot add 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste, fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add fried onions, kaju badam paste. Mix well for 1-2 minutes.
2. Add curd to the paste and mix. Now add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, roasted besan, garam masala powder. Mix all the masala well. Roast this masala until you get a strong smell of bhuna masala or until the oil leaves the masala.
3. Now add 1 ½ cups of water.
4. When the curry starts boiling add the marinated pasanda rolls to the gravy. Stir it with light hand.
5. Put gas on sim. Cover the kadhai with a lid.
5. Pasanda will take at least one hour to cook. So be patient. Occasionally stir it with a light hand.
6. Mix lightly when the pasandas are done. Your gravy should be thick like korma gravy and not watery.
7. Add a few drops of kewda essence before serving.
8. Transfer in serving dish and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
9. Serve hot with naan, rumali roti or normal chapati.
Try to buy thin slices of mutton. This will cook nicely and make pasandas more delicious.
Use raw papaya paste or kachri powder. This will make mutton tender and easy to cook. Cooking pasande takes time because they are cooked in an open vessel.
Always grind postadana separately because it is difficult to grind.
Tie the rolls well with string, otherwise, the rolls would open and the contents would spill out.