I read the Kashmiri Gushtaba recipe a few months ago and was petrified of trying it because there were various facets to making it. When I connected to Aman Kahlon on a food forum at Facebook, he knew I liked to cook non-vegetarian recipes hence asked me if I would like to make Gushtaba. Did I want to try it?? Oh no!! (kiddin’ - of course I wanted to try my hand at it) Did I try it?? Oh yessss!! :D I was petrified, I won't lie, of course i was. I'm only human, but, I’m bull-headed too. Challenging and complicated work does not deter me. In fact, I go all out to prove that it can be done. Competently!! Well, last Friday, Gushtaba was served for dinner.
When I decided to take on the recipe, I had plenty of questions buzzing madly through my mind. Aman patiently answered all my queries. That was an added boost to my confidence level, therefore, Aman Kahlon, a BIG ‘thank you’ to you for all your help and patience. Truly, thank you!! :)
Ingredients for Gushtaba:
½ kilo boneless mutton - shoulder/front leg (fat removed), cut into 1'x2' cubes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder
¾ tablespoon salt
- Pound the meat on a smooth stone with a wooden mallet. While pounding, keep removing any tough, white fiber that may appear.
- Keep pounding until the meat changes color. When the meat is lighter in color, add the unsalted butter and the green cardamom powder.
- Continue to pound the meat until it is very light in color and has a soft and paste-like texture.
- Add salt and continue to pound until well mixed.
- Make balls with the meat paste, and keep aside for use later. Please ensure that the meatballs are bound tight.
5 cups yogurt
1¼ cup water
- Whisk the yogurt till smooth.
- Add water and blend well.
- Pour this mixture into a thick-bottomed pan and cook on high heat, stirring constantly till the mixture comes to a boil.
- When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, stir constantly until the mixture is reduced to nearly half its quantity. The cooked yogurt should change to a creamy off-white color.
- This will yield 3 cups of cooked yogurt.
1½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup water
1½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup water
- Mix the minced garlic in quarter cup water.
- Allow it to stand for 5 minutes.
- Rub the garlic with your fingers in the water, then strain and collect the extract through a fine muslin cloth.
- Retain the extract.
8-9 ghushtaba (meatballs)
3 cups cooked yogurt
1/3rd cup desi ghee/clarified butter
4 cups clear meat bone stock (+ 1 cup extra if needed)
7 green cardamoms
5 black cardamoms
3 teaspoons fennel/saunf powder
3 teaspoons dry ginger/soonth powder
¼ cup garlic water
1 medium onion, fried crisp and ground to a paste
Salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon dry mint
A pinch of saffron strands, steep in 25 mils hot water
- Heat 2 cups of water and bring it to a rapid boil.
- Add one Gushtaba and continue boiling to check if it will hold shape. After about 7-9 minutes, if the Gushtaba is intact, take the vessel off the hob. Remove the Gushtaba and it keep aside. Discard the boiled water.
- In a large pan add the cooked yogurt, ghee and 4 cups of stock. Bring to a rapid boil.
- Add all the Gushtaba, including the one you had tested in the boiling water.
- Add cardamoms, black cardamoms, cloves, fennel powder and dry ginger powder.
- Cover the pan and continue to boil for 10-12 minutes.
- Add the garlic water and boil for 10-12 minutes. Pour in some stock to maintain a soup-like consistency if the gravy begins to thicken.
- Add the fried onion paste and salt to taste.
- Cook till the Ghushtaba is white in colour and tender and bouncy to touch.
- Add the saffron threads, saffron water, (retain four or five strands for garnish) and simmer for a minute.
- Sprinkle dry mint leaves. Serve with plain steamed rice or Kashmiri naan.
- Ideally, Gushtaba (meatballs) are about 100 grams each but I found those to be too huge hence I weigh them down to 60-70 grams each. If you wish to follow the 100 gram measure feel free to do so and the quantity mentioned will yield five Gushtabas instead of eight or nine.
- I did not have a smooth stone hence used my flat ‘sil-batta’ stone and beat the mutton on that.
- The beating of the mutton takes approx. one and a half to two hours. Can you get the mince done by your butcher or mince the mutton in a mincer? I don't see why not. You have to be really crazy in the head to want to do it the authentic way, as I did. I never said I wasn't crazy. :D
- I tried to procure a wooden mallet but I could not find one (in Pune) hence I made do with my regular metal mallet.
- After you pound the mutton to a paste-like texture, when you make individual Gushtaba (meat balls), dip your hands in ice water if the mince keeps sticking to your hands.
- Bind the meatballs real tight to ensure they don't split. If the Gushtaba that you are checking, splits in the boiling water, take each of the other Gushtabas in your hand and bind them tighter and smoother. (as shown in the picture)
- When you are boiling the curd/yogurt, please stir it constantly or it is sure to split. What prevents the curd from splitting is the constant stirring, which ensures that the heat is distributed evenly at all times.
- You can dry the mint in the microwave. Nuke it for a series of 10 seconds, until it is dry. Then powder it with your fingers. I usually keep dry herbs like coriander, mint, fenugreek leaves, and parsley ready by leaving fresh herbs, washed and wrapped, in a kitchen paper towel on one of the door shelves of the fridge. Two to three weeks later they are bone dry and crisp.
- When you steep the saffron strands in hot water, always keep the bowl covered to ensure the aroma remains intact.
- The flavor of this gravy is tart, hence if you feel the need to balance the flavor, add in a teaspoon or two of sugar. I did! *I request the gourmet cooks and the gourmands to please stop scowling at me* :P
- If the gravy begins to thicken while the meatballs are cooking, just add in a wee bit of meat stock to balance the consistency.
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