This lamb curry is so intensely flavourful. A rich, decadent sauce clings to the fork-tender lamb pieces – it’s hard to fathom the sheer fragrance and flavour in Kosha Mangsho, but in truth, it’s actually one of the easiest curries to make at home. Learn what’s behind the flavour…
Kosha Mangsho is traditionally a mutton curry, served the length and breadth of the Indian sub-continent. In this Bengali version, which can be made with mutton, goat or lamb we see ingredients typical of the region. This recipe for Kosha Mangsho features lamb - I like to cook my lamb off the bone for a less 'involved' eating experience when cooked, but I'll often cook this with goat or using thick cut lamb loin chops with the bone in. You can decide which you prefer. I don't think the flavour is affected either way.
Talking of flavour, kosha mangsho is not short on it! The curry has one of the most intensely satisfying and complex flavours. Let's break it down to show you how to create all that flavour yourself.
What is Panch Phoron?
Eastern India and the surrounding areas are synonymous for their specific spice blends - Panch Phoron is one such mix. A whole-spice mix that's added to many dishes to help give their unique flavours. Panch Phoron features 5 key spices:
The spices are simply blended together whole. You can buy panch phoron pre-mixed, but it's not so taxing to mix your own - see the recipe below for quantities. You can keep it in a jar for months too, ready for any eventuality.
Marination of a nation!
Any great meat curry benefits from a lengthy marination. In all honesty, I've made this curry without any marination at all and the taste is still amazing, but I must admit, the meat after marination is definitely improved. Do whatever makes you happy. The marinade for kosher mangsho is also the sauce - so to keep things easy, I add yoghurt and pretty much everything else to reduce the number of cooking steps.
To get our curry started we need to fry the panch phoron and some more whole spices briefly to help activate the oils and draw out the flavour. In Bengali cuisine, mustard oil is very common - it has a wonderful flavour and adds another layer of complexity to the dish. In this recipe, I've combined Ghee (clarified butter) with mustard oil which gives a wonderful flavour. Once our spices have fried briefly, they start to hop around the pan - in go the onions and we fry until soft.
Then it's as simple as adding the marinated meat and some water. The lid goes on and we cook for about 1 1/2 hours until the lamb is fork-tender. If the meat is on the bone, it might well need a little longer but 1 1/2 hours should be enough time.
As this is a dry curry, after the inital cook, I remove the lid and turn up the heat - I let the sauce reduce vigorously for 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so to avoid the meat sticking. I reduce the sauce considerably so that it clings to the soft meat.
I like to serve my kosher mangsho with Indian bread as it's perfect for scooping without any mess. That said, basmati rice is no second fiddle! Once you taste this amazing curry, I'm sure you'll agree that it's an absolute winner on every level. Perfect texture, perfect colour and perfect flavour - the trifector!
More delicious glossy 'dry curry' recipes
If you like this style of dry curry, then why not give one of these treasures a try.
Combine all the Paanch Phoron ingredients together and set aside. We only need 1tbsp of this mix, but it’ll keep for months in the cupboard in a bag or jar.
For the marinade
Cut the lamb into 2-inch/4cm chunks and then add all the other marinade ingredients plus about 1/4 cup water. Mix well to ensure it’s nicely combined and coats all the meat. Cover and marinade for 1 hour minimum or overnight for best results.
For the curry
Heat the ghee and oil in a large pan over a moderate heat until hot. Add the 1tbsp of Paanch Phoron, the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds.Add the sliced onion and fry for 4-5 minutes until soft. Add the tomato and stir for further 2-3 minutes until it’s broken down a bit. Now add the meat and all the marinade and stir well.Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid sticking. Add 2 cups of water and then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook very gently for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until the lamb is tender.Remove the lid and turn up the heat a little. Let the sauce bubble energetically and reduce for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid sticking. The sauce should be thick and cling to the meat.Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Sprinkle over the cilantro and serve.Serve hot with Indian breads and/or rice.
The paanch phoron recipe makes more than you need, so simply keep in a sealed bag or airtight jar in a cool cupboard for up to 12 months.