8 Rich And Traditional Mutton Recipes From South India
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Think mutton and most non-vegetarian Indians immediately conjure up images of celebrations, feasts and a time of utter joy. This is simply because in India, mutton is a red meat variety that is treated with special care and cooked until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. But while you might think North Indian or Mughlai-origin mutton dishes taste the best, the fact is that the South Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana also have some incredible mutton delicacies to offer up.  

But how did these South Indian mutton delicacies we are going to tell you all about even come to be. Well, a lot of the recipes came up due to the rich trading connections South Indian ports have had for centuries. The introduction of mutton and lamb in Indian dishes can be traced back to the coming of Arab traders via the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. But it was only once mutton met South India’s abundant and varied spices that these South Indian mutton recipes came up. 

So, what makes South Indian mutton recipes special? It is the blend of meaty flavours with regional spices of course. Curry leaves, coconut (oil, milk and grated), tamarind and plenty of aromatic spices like black pepper, red chillies, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and star anise feature in most South Indian mutton recipes—giving each of them a unique taste depending on the proportions used. When paired with South Indian breads, from Appams to Parottas, these South Indian mutton recipes taste just as amazing as they do with rice.  

Here are some of the most incredible South Indian mutton recipes you can feast on. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana

Gongura Mamsam – Andhra Pradesh 

A revered mutton dish from Andhra Pradesh, this simple curry features gongura or sorrel leaves which add tartness to the dish. The mutton in Gongura Mamsan is slow-cooked with onions, chopped gongura leaves and a blend of spices like red chillies, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds. The whole dish is cooked in ghee mixed with a bit of vegetable oil, and the gravy is usually on the thicker side.  

Mutton Stew – Kerala 

Lovingly known as Mutton Ishtu, this hearty stew from Kerala is loaded with the flavours of mutton, coconut milk and veggies. Aromatic spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom are used whole to temper the stew along with curry leaves and dry red chillies. Then the mutton is cooked with onions and veggies like carrots and potatoes. Coconut milk is added last and the gravy shines through with its flavours.  

Halli Mutton Saaru – Karnataka 

Believed to have originated in Halli, Bidar district, Karnataka, this mutton curry is spicy and pairs really well with rice. Local and very spicy Byadagi red chillies are dry roasted with cumin seeds, coriander seeds and turned into a heady spice paste with onions, ginger and garlic. The mutton is then cooked with these spices and more green chillies are also added to increase the spice levels. A dash of coconut milk at the end provides some relief from the spiciness of the dish.  

Ambur Biryani – Tamil Nadu 

What makes Ambur Biryani from Tamil Nadu’s Ambur district outstanding is the use of the short-grained and fragrant Jeera Samba rice. Of course, local spices are added to the dish, including cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, saffron and ginger-garlic paste. The mutton is slow cooked in these spices and onions, and then parboiled Jeera Samba rice is layered on top with mint, coriander and saffron. If you love biryani and haven’t tried Ambur biryani yet, then you are really missing out.  

Hyderabadi Biryani – Andhra Pradesh/Telangana 

To be fair, Hyderabadi Biryani and Haleem are both mutton dishes from the capital of Andhra and Telangana that should be mentioned here—but we are picking biryani because of its incredible popularity across India. Made with fragrant Basmati rice, tender mutton, layers of fried onions, saffron and other spices, Hyderabadi Biryani is a true Nizami treat. This biryani variety tends to be on the spicier side, especially when paired with a Salan. This is why a good Raita with it is a must.  

Karwari Mutton Gassi – Karnataka 

A delightful mutton dish from Karnataka’s Karwar region, Mutton Gassi is a sweet, sour and spicy balance of flavours. A coconut and Byadagi chilli spice blend is prepared especially for this dish, and it includes other whole spices too. The addition of both Byadagi and green chillies makes this one very spicy, and even the addition of coconut milk doesn’t dull the heat completely. Tamarind paste and jaggery are both added around the end of the cooking process to add to the dance of flavours this Mutton Gassi represents. 

Mutton Chettinad – Tamil Nadu 

This dish is a true representation of Tamil Nadu’s brilliant Chettinad cuisine credited to the Chettiar community. A heady spice blend is prepared with black peppercorns, fennel seeds, red chillies, green chillies and curry leaves. Then the mutton pieces are cooked with the spice blend, onions, tomatoes and of course, coconut. Sour and spicy are the dominant flavours of this mutton dish, and it pairs well with rice as well as parotta and dosa.  

Mutton Dalcha – Andhra Pradesh/Telangana 

A protein-packed mutton dish from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this one sings with the flavours of mutton, lentils and spices. Believed to be similar to the Middle Eastern Harees, Mutton Dalcha differs from Haleem because it is made without any broken grains and with only Masoor Dal. Slow cooked until both the lentils and the mutton pieces are tender, this mutton speciality is enjoyed with rice, rotis and other flatbreads too.