Uppu Kari is a very traditional Chettiar dish and one of the best kept secrets of the vibrant Chettinad cuisine. Today, one can find several variations of this dish but very few of these do justice to the real heritage of this preparation.
This recipe comes from the famed heritage restaurant ‘The Bangala Table’ situated in the Chettinad region. Uppu Kari or Chettinad mutton fry may have only a few ingredients but it has complex, fiery flavours and is so uniquely reminiscent of this cuisine.
1. 500 gms boneless mutton (cut into 1 inch cubes) + 150 gms liver
2. 1/3 cup vegetable oil
3. 15 dry red chilli (round variety/goondu milagu)
4. 1 ½ inch cinnamon bark
5. 8 large garlic cloves, finely sliced lengthwise (increase number of cloves if smaller in size)
6. 18-20 medium shallots, peeled whole
7. ½ medium onion, finely chopped
8. ½ tsp turmeric powder
9. 1 ½ medium tomatoes, chopped
10. Salt, to taste
Note – If you do not want the dish to be very spicy, keep the chillies whole. If you break it open, the seeds will spill out which can make the dish really hot.
• Heat oil in a heavy bottomed wok or kadai; when the oil is hot enough but not smoking, add the whole chillies. Stir for a few seconds till fragrant.
• Lower the heat a little and add the cinnamon and sliced garlic. Continue to stir ensuring that the spices do not burn.
• Add the whole shallots, onion and turmeric powder; continue to stir for a minute or two till the onions have softened lightly.
• Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes till it has softened and starts to release the juices. Then add the mutton pieces and season with salt. Stir and cook without any water for another 4-5 minutes.
• Add 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Then keep covered and simmer on low heat for 40-45 minutes or until the meat has become tender. Stir occasionally. (If you feel the mixture is a little dry before the meat is cooked well, then add more water).
• Once the meat is almost done, remove lid and braise till all the water has evaporated, meat has darkened and the sauce has beautifully coated the meat.
• Serve warm with a traditional South Indian meal; this dish also pairs well with dosas, kal dosas and appams.
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