India loves its mutton curries, and the same is evident from the rich range of mutton curries you find across the subcontinent. From Kashmir’s Rogan Josh, to Bengal’s Kosha Mangsho, to Kerala’s Mutton Kuzhambu, the options are endless. One such Indian mutton curry that has our hearts is Mutton Rara. It’s not just the preparation, but also the sheer amount of mutton used to make this curry one of the richest and most extravagant curries we have ever had. Mutton Rara is essentially a keema-based mutton curry, which means that in the same curry you would find the goodness of both, the keema and the succulent mutton pieces. 

There’s a rather incredulous legend associated with the origins of Mutton Rara, if you love fairy tales and food, you would perhaps love this tale as much as I did, when I first heard it. So, the story goes that the Chote Nawab of Awadh and the princess of Jaipur had an intense love affair which they managed to keep secret for a long time, but when the clandestine affair came out in the open, the princess’ family were not so pleased. They had the princess whisked away to a fortress away from the city, which was surrounded by deep waters. The fortress was guarded by a witch. After failing to meet the princess many times due to this witch, the prince had to come up with a unique idea. He found out that the witch loved mutton, he called his famous chefs to make the most exquisite mutton dish. He presented the mutton dish to the witch and she was so pleased that she herself let the princess free. And the happy Nawab named the dish after the witch, who was known as Rara.  

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As fancy as the tale sounds, it is difficult to buy the story. First of all, the legend links the dish to Awadh, whereas the dish is quite likely a Punjabi or a Himachali creation. And speaking about its etymology, chef Ranveer Brar in one of his recipe videos for ‘Mutton Rara’ mentioned that the word ‘Rara’ could be derived from the word ‘Rarna’, which is again a common word you associate with Punjabi households, it simply means to cook or work on something for long enough and with much power.

Mutton Rara or Rara Gosht is cooked sedulously with roasted spices. And since you have to wait for both the keema and the pieces to get tender, it takes its own sweet time to cook. You cannot really be rushing when you are cooking Rara Gosht, but you know the end product is more than worth it.  

India has long had a tradition to attach fancy folklore, or the name of royals or foreign travelers to certain dishes, to make it all the more exotic and awe-inspiring. For example, there are many in Bengal who contest any possible role of the ‘Mughals’ in the creation of Mughlai Parathas. Similarly, this legend of ‘Mutton Rara’ is also something that is being passed down the generations, how plausible do you find the tale is for you to tell. But for now, it is a good idea to bookmark this recipe so that you can prepare it for your Sunday lunch.