Being Women

Mutton Curry and Memories: A Nostalgic Tribute To Mom’s Cooking

Sunday Memories

Growing up, Sunday mornings were always special for me. The jingling of bells from the nearby church would arouse us from sleep. The aroma of my mom’s Mutton Curry and the crispy Appams tickled our sleepy noses. And I knew it was going to be a good day. My dad made it a routine to buy freshly cut mutton on Sunday mornings, and my mom would work her magic in the kitchen.

Memories of the cooking process

The recipe was super simple, but the result was nothing short of amazing. Mom would finely chop the shallots while Dad cut the mutton pieces. We South Indians are notorious for our love of coconut oil, and mom would pour a generous amount of it into the pressure cooker for this gravy. After spluttering some cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and curry leaves, she’d slow-fry the shallots on medium flame, until they softened. Red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt were then added and mixed well till they became aromatic and well-coated on the soft shallots. She would keep stirring in between and add more oil, to prevent the masala from burning or sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

The mutton pieces would go in last, with just enough water added to cover them. She would then let it cook for some 10-15 whistles and wait till the steam was fully released. When the lid was finally opened, the aroma that wafted from the cooker was pure bliss!

Then it was time for hot, crispy appams prepared by Dad! I and my sister eagerly gobbled them up while watching Mowgli, Duck Tales, and Chandrakanta on Door Darshan. It was a spicy dish. Our noses would run and our eyes would water, but that’s what made it special! I’m still mystified by how she managed to create such a scrumptious dish with the minimum ingredients – no ginger garlic paste or garam masala or ready-to-make masala powder mixes. As they say, simplicity is always best!

My Mother-in-law’s version

When I got married, I discovered that my mother-in-law (MIL) had her own take on this recipe. She would add coconut milk towards the end, which not only toned down the spiciness but also gave it a distinct taste and flavour.

The best part? My mom is a pure vegetarian and my MIL does not eat meat. Yet, they both managed to make these delectable dishes without ever tasting themselves!

Mom’s magic

I am a foodie and I love to cook. Over the years, I’ve experimented with numerous mutton recipes from around the world, but none could ever match the taste of my mother’s cooking. I guess that’s what they refer to as “maa ke haath ka jadoo” – the magic of a mother’s hands in the kitchen. She could tell if a dish was lacking salt or chilli powder just from the aroma of the dish!

As Mother’s Day approaches, I can’t help but reminisce about those Sunday mornings and the memories they bring. The aroma of my mom’s Mutton Curry will forever be etched in my mind, reminding me of the love and care she put into every meal.

Here is my variation of Mom’s Mutton Curry Recipe:

Prep time: 30-45 mins, Difficulty level: Easy/Medium, Serves 6


  • 1 kg mutton, cut into medium-sized pieces
  • Whole spices (1 bay leaf, 3-4 cloves, ½ inch cinnamon, 3 cardamoms, 1 tsp fennel seeds, a tiny piece of mace, 2 petals of star anise, a tiny piece of nutmeg, ½ tsp poppy seeds)
  • 2 cups shallots, finely chopped (red onions can be used too)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1.5 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp meat masala or garam masala powder (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water, as needed
  • Coriander leaves (chopped, for garnishing)
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk (optional)


  • Heat the coconut oil in a pressure cooker and add a crushed bay leaf and other whole spices. Add curry leaves and let them splutter.
  • Add the finely chopped shallots and slow-fry them. Keep the flame on medium. Put a lid on, cover it loosely and let it soften (15 – 20 mins). This is crucial for developing the depth of flavours.
  • Add the red chilli powder and coriander powder and mix well until they become aromatic. Add half of the meat masala.
  • Add the mutton pieces and stir well to coat them with the spices. Pour enough water to cover the mutton pieces and add salt to taste.
  • Close the pressure cooker with its lid and cook the mutton for 10-15 whistles or until the meat is tender.
  • Let it sit, till the steam is released. Check the consistency, spice level and salt. Adjust as needed.
  • Finish with 1/2 cup of coconut milk (optional) for a milder flavour.
  • Sprinkle the remaining meat masala / garam masala on top, add ½ tsp oil (optional) and chopped coriander leaves. Keep covered till serving time, to trap the aromas and flavours, and to make the mutton more tender.
  • Serve hot with rice, rotis or appams. Don’t forget napkins for the happy tears!

Tips: If your dish is too salty, adding potatoes while cooking will absorb some of the salt and balance the flavours. Marinate the mutton overnight in yoghurt and spices for tenderness and flavour. Sprinkling fennel powder on top of the dish might add a subtle aroma.

Try this South Indian Mutton Curry, this Mother’s Day!

By Deepa Perumal

Deepa Perumal is an MBA student & management professional, and a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment. As a career mentor, entrepreneur, and multilingual author, she shares her insights through blogging and writing features on history, world cultures, travelogues and memoirs. Contact her at

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2 Responses

  1. Ah ha! Though I don’t eat mutton, your description and nostalgia makes me want to try it 😃

  2. Wow! much needed article dear, now I understand the historic importance of the photo that I saw at kumaran asan museum … Three stalwarts together!

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