Mutton Beliram: Saga Of A Gifted Cook And An Impressed King
Image Credit: Shutterstock, Mutton Beliram

It is impossible to think of Indian cuisine without taking into account Punjab’s contribution to the same. The undivided Punjab of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first emperor of the Sikh Empire, had towns like Srinagar, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Jammu, Attock, Sialkot, Kangra, Amritsar, Lahore, Gujarat and Multan under one enormous empire. And till today, you would find many common threads in the cooking styles of each region.

Also called the Sher-E-Punjab or the Lion King, Maharaja Ranjit Singh's early encounter with smallpox cost him the sight of his left eye, but that didn’t stop the ruler from laying the foundation of one of the most extensive and most powerful kingdoms India had ever seen, he was successful in his attempts to keep foreign invasions at bay while leading an extravagant life that you and I can only dream of. The Maharajah was very known to be very fond of food. His platter would comprise a mix of delicacies, from game meat (shikaar) to exotic vegetables, lentils, pickles and exquisite desserts; the platter truly encapsulated the best of Punjab in a way. The Royal also had a few favourites in his kitchen. As per legends, a certain man-named Beliram was such a gifted chef that he got a dish named after him by none other than the Maharajah himself.

The Royal Connection

As per a few legends, Mr. Beliram would cook a specific mutton    curry, and the Gosht would be so good that Maharajah couldn’t stop admiring its flavour, texture, and generous use of spices. The curry would be made with heaps of onions, dhaniya and black pepper and cooked until the mutton was soft and started leaving the bones. Eventually, Maharajah Ranjit Singh named the mutton curry after his chef, and the dish came to be known as ‘Mutton Beliram’ or ‘Gosht Beliram’.

Is Mutton Beliram Really That Old A Delicacy? 

There are plenty who dispute the legend saying that Mutton Beliram is not that old. It was indeed named after a gentleman named Beliram, Beliram was someone who had a shop in Lahore where he would cook mutton so tender that it would get sold off in no time. Slowly, the mutton curry gained currency as ‘Mutton Beliram’ in pre-partition Lahore. Beliram's family had to move base to India after partition, and this is how the recipe travelled to India, which is again an interesting thing to note. 


Today, our common perception of Punjabi food is riddled with juicy, mutton and chicken delicacies, but most of these ‘non-veg Punjabi delicacies were brought into post-partition India from the North-west frontier. Punjab that fell in India was renowned for their veg, rustic treats made with fresh farm produce. Even Kundan Lal’s Tandoori chicken is said to have had a similar journey. 

Mutton Beliram is abound with the sweetness of onions, the hotness of green chillies, and the best ratio of powdered spices, making it one hearty dish to savour, especially over the weekends. Here’s a recipe you may enjoy.