The affinity of Odia palate to mutton is well known and hence identifying and buying good mutton (goat meat) becomes a rite of passage for an Odia man and a cooking an ambrosial mutton curry for the Odia woman. Sundays are religiously observed as days to feast on mutton!
You buy mutton that doesn’t make the cut then be sure to be taunted till the time you have nailed it. Mutton isn’t mutton if it is not from a Khasi – a 9-12 Kilo male goat. It has to be dry weight, with insignificant fat and proportionate bones. You need the skills of an Alchemist to get it right. Mutton is so ingrained into the psyche of the common Odia man that they get their idea of economy and inflation by the price of a Kilo of mutton. On social events and dinners, a mutton dish is a must else you will be ridiculed to the end of time.
The first thing the leading ladies of Odiya households do on a Sunday is start preparing for the mutton curry even before the Babu of the house has stepped out to get the mutton. Normally each house has a selection of shops to procure the mutton but the purists travel to the edge of the city to get the best mutton.
The ubiquitous dali (dal) is given a skip on that day as no one wants any distraction between them and the mutton. No side dishes, nothing, just the rice and the curry and you, the holy trinity! Rice is preferably pre boiled (Oosuna) because the pungent flavor of the rice enhances the aroma of the curry! The curry has to be perfect blend of the spices and mutton with an adequate amount of gravy. Potatoes are added to make the gravy smooth. The meat is cooked in two phases to the point where it falls of the bones effortlessly.
The vagabond kids of the house assemble back at the house sharp at lunch time like little monks for their prayers. Steaming rice and piping hot curry are served quickly to everyone. There is not a bigger crime than to serve cold mutton curry! The kids have a hearty lunch and hit the playgrounds with renewed energy. The lady murmurs in a distant voice “the mutton was good”, the Babu has a sigh of relief and leans back to enjoy his afternoon siesta. A day well spent!
Guest Authored by Subrat Behura.
A graduate from University of Pune, Subrat is a hardcore Kataki at heart!