Showing posts with label festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label festival. Show all posts

Feb 12, 2016

Kathmandu Style Mutton Curry

Nepal is an amazing place of beautiful mountains, lush valleys, and rich cultural heritage. Although it is a tiny nation only about the size of the American state of Arkansas,  it is home to many different ethnicities and cuisines. All Nepali cuisines are influenced by it's neighbors: India, Tibet, and China. This curry's fusion of Indian spices with the Chinese touch of spring onions results in uniquely Nepali dish. I first tasted this delicious curry in a restaurant in Nepal's very multicultural capital, Kathmandu.

Nepali mutton curry kathmand

1kg/2lbs goat/mutton, lean & bone in preferred, cut into 3 inch pieces
3 TBS cooking oil (mustard oil if you wish to be authentic)
1 TBS ghee
2 C onions, finely sliced into half moons
3 cassia leaves/tej patta
1/4 C cilantro/dhania, chopped roughly
3 spring onions, green tops only snipped into 1 inch pieces
Grind to smooth paste for marinade:
1/2 C yogurt/dahi
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger paste
1 C onion, roughly chopped
1 C tomato, roughly chopped
1 TBS ground coriander/dhania
1 TBS ground cumin/jeera
2 tsp fennel/saunf seeds
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp cayenne plus 1 tsp paprika)
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt

Ingredients for marinade.
Here's what to do:
1) Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to smooth paste in mixie, food processor, or blender.

The marinade is mixed.
2) In an airtight container combine marinade paste with mutton, make sure each piece is thoroughly coated. Seal container and allow meat to marinate for at least four hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

All meat pieces thoroughly coated in marinade.

Sealed up & ready to go into the refrigerator.

3) When ready to cook, heat oil and ghee in pressure cooker or a deep, heavy bottomed skillet. Fry finely sliced onions until a deep brown.

4) Add tej patta/cassia leaves and mutton pieces, and marinade to the fried onions. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer stirring frequently for 8 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch add 1/4 C water, reduce heat and continue cooking.

5) If using pressure cooker add chopped cilantro/dhania, snipped spring onion tops, and 3 C water to mixture and stir well. Seal pressure cooker and allow to cook for 5-6 whistles or until meat is to desired tenderness. If using deep, heavy bottomed pot or skillet add chopped cilantro/dhania, snipped spring onion tops, and enough water to cover mixture by 2 inches. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer until meat is to desired tenderness and gravy is to desired consistency. The traditional Nepali way to cook this kind of curry is to allow it to slowly simmer over a couple of hours, adding water in small amounts (usually 1/2 C water at a time) until meat is to desired tenderness and gravy is to desired consistency.

6) Salt to taste and serve with steamed rice, achaari/pickles, a tarkaari/vegetable dish, a fresh chutney/chatni, and roti. Actually it's great with just buttered hunk of French bread too.

Helpful Hints:

Not fond of goat? This recipe works well with beef, lamb, venison, or water buffalo stew meat also.

Jan 29, 2016

Gai Jatra

Gai Yatra means "festival of the cows"in Nepali.

It is held in the fortnight of Gunla in the Nepalese month of Badra which usually falls between August and September. The festival commemorates the dead of the previous year. This Gai Jatra took place on August 30th, 2015.

What do cows have to do with recently deceased folks, you ask? 
Well, in Hinduism the cow is a holy animal who can help lead the deceased on their long journey to heaven, or perhaps a more fortuitous next life. 

The Gai Jatra has it's roots in the ancient Nepali worship of Yamaraj, the feared god of death. Ancient participants in the Gai Jatra would lead a cow through the streets in a very somber procession to aid a deceased relative. It is said that the medieval King Pratap Malla of Nepal changed the melancholy tone of the festival when his son died. His queen was quite grief stricken over the death of her son. The king promised a great reward for anyone who could make the queen laugh again. When the Gai Jatra procession came before the queen the participants began lampooning and ridiculing the members of the court, eventually the queen could not help but laugh. So buffoonery, silly songs, and jokes have become a tradition in this festival of commemorating the dead. Gai Jatra reminds living souls of the inevitability of death as well as aiding dear departed relatives on their journey to a "good life after death" in the Hindu sense.

Usually there are cows in the procession, or at least a boy dressed as a cow complete with horns and tail made of rice straw. No cows nor cow substitutes were in attendance at this Gai Jatra despite the heavy death toll of the two earthquakes here earlier this year. There were plenty of angels, clowns, devils, small marching band,  and a goddess incarnate or two though.

Gai Yatra
Looking quite celestial, dear angels!

Gai yatra
Oh my. It would seem we have some archangels here and perhaps a even goddess incarnate in the middle. (You can tell by the "fire eye" on the forehead of the supernatural presence with the poinsettia on her head that she's a goddess. She might even be an incarnation of Telegu, the famous living goddess who has her tiny palace in Kathmandu! )
Nepali festival
This angel doesn't seem to like it's picture being taken.
I suppose angels come in all sorts too.
Nepali festival
Some rather glamorous angels in every hue.
Nepal Gai Yatra
This angel had peacock feather wings.
 I think the rose in her hair is a much better choice than those tedious halos, don't you?

Gai Jatraa festival
A clown who looks like he's just come from a Grateful Dead concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater.
This angel looks likes she's had enough clowning around, as well as monsoon heat & humidity.
Jai Nepal!