Staring deep into my eyes, she elects me to pass on her immemorial knowledge. A thin line emerges between us, pulling the old Kashmiri woman with authoritative wrinkles nearer to me. I am accepted into the intimacy of the blue kitchen, the most inner room of the house. For once, I see the chance offered by my position as a woman. In a patriarchal society, certain doors, closed to my fellow male travelers, open before me.
Ingredients for 4:
1 kg Mutton
1 kg Fresh Yogurt
2 Onions 3 Shallots
A few Dried Mint Leaves
1 tsp. Anise Seeds
3 tbsp. Oil
3 Green Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon Stick
Salt to taste
Take a heavy bottomed pan; add 4- 5 cups of water with salt. In cotton gauze place the anise seeds, the cloves, the green cardamoms, and the cinnamon. Place it in the water along with the mutton and let it cook.
Take a saucepan and fry onions and shallots in oil till brown, then using a hand blender, adding a little water turn them into a paste.
Heat oil in another pan and add yogurt. Keep stirring the mixture till it boils without interruption and let the water in the yogurt evaporate till you are left with a cream on which oil floats.
Add onion paste to this mixture and mix well. Reduce the flame and add the meat pieces.
Strain the broth from the mutton and add it to the vessel containing mutton. Add dried mint, possibly dried in the sun, and cook for some more time.
Serve hot with steamed Basmati rice.
Boil the water with the cinnamon and green cardamoms, sugar and saffron if you wish, for 5-10 minutes till the colour of the water is brown and emits a good fragrance.
Whole spices are better, do not use powdered.
Remove from flame, add the tea leaves, cover with a lid, and let stand for 3-5 minutes till the tea brews.
Pour into warmed cups and, if you like, add ¼ teaspoon sliced almonds in each cup.