The cuisine of Punjab reflects the influence of agricultural and farming life style of the majority of people, prevalent from ancient times of Harappa Civilization. Locally grown staple foods like wheat, rice and pulses, meat and dairy products are the basis of daily diet. The food is hearty and less spices are used compared to other cuisines in region. Many dishes are cooked with just basic salt, red chillies, turmeric and coriander powder. Punjabi Garam Masala (which is a spice blend of cumin, coriander, black pepper corns, cloves, cinnamon, black cardamoms and curry leaf) is many times used as a garnishing on cooked curries and is served on the side for those who want to add extra heat to their plate.

Daal Gosht, a delicious stew of tender lentils and melt in the mouth meat, is equally popular as comfort food among home cooks as well as on the menu of dhabas ( road side eateries).Served with hot rotis and fresh salad of onions, tomatoes and green chillies, it makes a meal that satisfies both body and soul.

Punjabis are meat lovers though there is a wide variety of vegetarian dishes also a permanent part of daily menu in every household. My father loved meat like a true punjabi and my mom added mutton to most of the dishes she cooked for him. So there used to be mutton cooked on its own or with various seasonal vegetables or lentils as a compulsory part of our daily menu. Out of all these hearty dishes Aloo Gosht ( potato and mutton curry) and Daal Gosht were always my favourite. Now my daughters aren’t a big fan of red meat so I cook the same recipe for them with chicken.

The best thing about the recipe is that it’s prepare ahead and can be frozen. You can prepare only the meat this way in bulk too and freeze it in small portion to add your favourite vegetables or lentils later on.

1/2 kg chicken or mutton on bones
1+1/2 cup Bengal gram (channa daal)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
2 tomatoes
1/2 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
4-5 black pepper corns
A pinch baking soda
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
4 tablespoons olive oil or ghee(clarified butter)
Fresh coriander leaves and green chilli peppers for garnishing

This Is a What You Do:
Soak channa daal in water for 20 minutes. Boil with half a teaspoon salt and a pinch baking soda (for quick cooking) till it’s tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside.

While the lentils are boiling, start cooking the meat masala in another pan to save time. Add oil to a deep pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Add meat and ginger-garlic paste. Continue to fry another 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, red chillies, coriander, cumin, black pepper corns and salt. Add 1/4 cup water and cover the pan. Cook for a few minutes till the juice from tomatoes blends well with the other ingredients and masala separates from oil.

Beat the yogurt smooth, add to the masala. Continue to fry on medium heat till everything is well blended.

Add 2 cups of water. Reduce heat to medium low and cover the pan. Let it simmer till the meat is done ( 25 to 30 minutes for chicken, 45 minute to an hour for mutton).

Add the cooked lentils, a little water (1/4 to 1/2 cup) for some gravy and simmer for another 5 minutes together.

Garnish with garam masala, fresh coriander leaves and green chilli peppers.

Serve hot with roti ( flat bread) or onion fried rice.

Serves 4

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