Mutton bone curry is one of the classic Malay dishes that is usually served at home only among the family. Because many people feel shy about presenting a dish that may not contain much meat, it is usually not served to the guests.
Mutton is quite an expensive ingredient, so it makes sense to make the best use of every part of the meat. Especially when mutton bones are aplenty during this period of Qurban, many households cook this dish to use up the offcuts and tendons.
The use of bones in the curry also gives the gravy more flavour and body, especially if you use bone that contains a lot of marrow. It is good to get a variety of different bone parts for this dish so that you get a mix of meat, tendon and marrow all combined in one dish. You can ask your butcher to cut up a medley of bones such as ribs, shank, spine, and shoulder so you can cater to everyone’s favourite parts.
Because the spice blend is also quite simple to prepare, I don’t usually resort to getting store-bought pre-packaged spices. Grinding fresh spices in an electric mill results in a curry that tastes authentically homecooked.
The only ingredient that I had bought ready-made is the kerisik, or toasted coconut. You may omit this ingredient if unavailable or if you do not like its taste. I personally prefer my curry gravy to be smooth and creamy, and I find the gravy texture a bit coarse and gritty when there is kerisik in the curry.
Families that prepare this dish usually make a big pot of it because it can withstand prolonged cooking and keeps well. In fact, it tastes even better the next day when the flavour of the spices has penetrated into the meat.
This recipe first appeared in The Star Online > Food
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- 3 sprigs curry leaves
- 5cm cinnamon stick
- 5 pods cloves
- 3 pods cardamom
- 3 pods star anise
- 1kg mutton bones
- 3 tbsp meat curry powder
- 3 tbsp chilli powder
- 3 slices asam gelugur
- 1 cup thick coconut milk
- 2 tbsp kerisik, or toasted coconut
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 1 tsp sugar to taste
- Spice Paste:
- 2 bulbs red onions
- 5 bulbs shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 knob ginger
- 1 knob galangal
- 2 red chillies
- Blend spice paste ingredients in an electric mill into a smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottom pot. Temper curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise in hot oil until fragrant.
- Add spice paste and saute until dry and fragrant. Add curry powder and chilli powder and toss until oil starts to separate. Add mutton bones and toss in curry paste until completely coated.
- Add mutton bones and toss in curry paste until completely coated.
- Add asam gelugur, coconut milk, kerisik, water, and salt and sugar to taste.
- Cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for two hours, stirring constantly to keep from burning.
- If using a pressure cooker, pressurize on high for 40 minutes.
- Depressurise when done, then add red chillies and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid into a thick gravy.
- Serve with steamed rice.