Who doesn’t love meatballs, really?! Meatballs have been a happy food for me for as long as I remember. Coat them in an Asian style sauce, load them with cheese, cook them with rice or simmer in a spicy curry, meatballs never fail to cheer me up.

There are as many meatball curry versions in the Indian subcontinent as there are regional languages. There is this comforting Punjabi version cooked in onion and tomato curry, then the lip smacking good Goan style made with coconut milk and the very unique and heartwarming Kashmiri meatball curry called Mutsch.

Why unique? Because the entire Kashmiri cuisine is very different in it’s use of spices and cooking methods. The word curry is not part of Kashmiri vocabulary, it’s more like hearty broths and soups. Mostly curries are made without onions and garlic. Red chillies and turmeric are not used together, they are added to different recipes according to the colour requirement. Fennel and dry ginger dominate the spice scene and mustard oil is used mainly in curries as well as for frying.

Mutsch are not even shaped like regular meatballs but more in a cylindrical, mini sausage like shape. They are not fried before we add them to the curry but are actually braised in the spice and yogurt broth directly that’s why they stay super moist and tender.

The broth mainly thickens because of the spices and yogurt. It’s essential to grind the spices real fine and to have the yogurt thick and smooth for beautiful colour and texture of curry.

If you can’t find all these spices separately where you live, just get the ordinary garam masala used in Indian/Pakistani/Bengali cooking and add fennel and dry ginger to it. Or cut the spice list short and grind only cloves, black peppers, fennel and dry ginger to get the core flavour of Kashmiri spice blend.

Some recipes don’t even use yogurt in Mutsch and make the broth with spices and meat juices cooking together. I feel adding yogurt gives the curry more flavour and substance. I keep the consistency very soupy to drown my rice in the curry or to soak it up with hot naans. Mutsch is an unbelievably easy to make curry for the mighty comfort and flavour it delivers. Perfect for changing weather and festive table.


1/2 kg mutton or chicken
2 teaspoons fennel seeds (saunf)
1 teaspoon dry ginger (saunth)
1 big stick cinnamon (dar cheeni)
5-6 cloves (laung)
7-8 black peppercorns (Kali mirch)
2 black cardamoms (badi elaychi)
seeds from 4 green cardamom (sabz elaychi)
1 heaped teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder or red chilli powder
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons corn flour or gram flour
1 cup thick yogurt
2 tablespoons ghee, olive or mustard oil

This Is What You Do:

Pound mince meat in a mortar and pestle or whiz briefly in the food processor to make it fine.

Roast all the dry spices (except red chilli powder) on a skillet for a few seconds. Grind to fine powder in an electric grinder.

Mix half of the spice powder, half red chillies, corn flour and some salt into the minced meat. Be careful while adding salt because we are going to add some to the curry too.

The best way to check the spices and salt is to make a tiny kebab with minced meat, fry and taste before making all the meatballs.

Wet your hands, make small sausage shaped meatballs. Place them on a plastic plate 1/2 inch apart.

Heat oil in a deep pan. Add the remaining spices and yogurt. Cook on medium low heat for 2-3 minutes to cook the rawness out of the yogurt. Add one cup water.

Place the meatballs/mutsch in a single layer in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes or till the are firm. Shake the pan to move the meatballs around, don’t stir with a ladle or spoon.

Once the mutsch are somewhat firm. Add 1 cup more water. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer (15 minutes for chicken, 25-30 minutes for mutton).

By the end of this time, the broth should be reduced to 1/3rd or 1/2. If you want more curry, add a little more water and cook a couple more minutes.

Garnish with julienned ginger, fresh coriander and green chilli peppers. Serve hot with rice or flatbread.

Serves 6-8

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