I grew up watching the ladies of my family cook elaborate meals for festive and special occasions at home. Both my grand mothers (Nani and Daddi) , my mother and aunts – everyone cooked extensively over Eids, family gatherings and even wedding functions. There was never a concept of ordering food from outside in our family. Times changed, lives got busy and complicated. But that tradition kind of runs in my veins or has seeped so deep into my psyche that even if I have my hands full with other stuff, I’m not feeling well or simply not feeling like cooking, still I can not make myself serve food to my guests out of packets or from restaurants.

The whole idea of having guests over, for me, is to share my home, my environment and my food with them. I might cook less but it shall always be home cooked.
So Eid is almost here, have you started searching frantically for recipes that don’t consume YOU in the kitchen and still look like a show stopper on the table. For every special occasion you do need one such recipe around which you can build the rest of your menu. On Eid, usually that recipe has to be a heavy weight meaty dish. This fool proof and impressive roast recipe for your festive table is certainly the answer to your wishes.

Chokhta is an unbelievably easy recipe for a pan roasted lamb from the delicious and rich Kashmiri cuisine. Basically it has only five ingredients, if we don’t count oil and water. There is no chopping, blending or frying of masala involved. Doesn’t it sound like a blessing already?!

Despite the simplicity of ingredients, the dish is really big on flavour and perfect for any special occasion. You can also make whole lamb leg roast or chicken roast using the same recipe. Most of the spices are ones that are staple in almost all Kashmiri curries; red chillies, ginger powder and asafoetida. The last one might be difficult to find in some places but thankfully it has a very close and successful substitute if you mix onion and ginger powder in equal quantities, which are easily available even at small grocery shops.

Really now there is no reason to order food from outside or bring that very tasteless ready to heat and eat boring stuff!


1 kg lamb/goat meat
2+1/2 cups water
a pinch asafoetida (or 1 teaspoon onion powder + 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1-2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder (or cayenne pepper powder)
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tablespoons coconut/olive oil or ghee

This Is What You Do:

Add the lamb, salt and asafoetida (or onion and ginger powder as substitute) in a deep pan.

Add the water and cover the pan.

Cook over medium low heat for an hour or till the meat is tender.

Uncover the pan and cook till the liquid dries out.

Add oil or ghee. Fry the meat till crisp and golden brown on outside.

Dilute the chilli powder and the ginger powder in 1/4 cup water. Add to the meat.

Cook another 5 minutes or till the meat takes the rich red colour from the chillies.

Serve hot with plain rice or flat bread of your choice. Fresh salad (a mix of onions, tomatoes and cucumbers) tastes great on the side.

Serves 4

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