Aloo Gosht is one of those dishes you can never go wrong by serving. One of those dishes everyone happens to love. One of those dishes that just spells out C O M F O R T.
If you’d ask me to name one dish to represent my childhood, well, this and a hot plate of daal chawal would have a tough time competing!
Whenever I need to cook curry for my siblings or my cousins (who aren’t really a fan of curry, mind you) there are a handful of recipes I know I can rely on. This happens to be one of those! (Others include a Mixed Vegetable Curry, Chicken Pilau and Nehari) What is it about this delicious meal that even the picky kids love have no problems finishing plate after plate? Is it the beautifully rich and deeply flavoured broth? The tender chunks of lamb? The soft, floury potatoes?
I feel like Pakistanis have a bit of a rep for eating a lot of lamb, especially during the last few years. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve heard this, especially in this past year – similar to how Bangladeshis are thought to have a lot of fish. I admit it – I’ve helped the stereotype! Growing up I had a substantial amount of lamb and grew to love red meat. This is partially due to the fact that my Father and all his brothers own a chain of grocery and butcher shops and are well-trained in the art of butchery. This love of red meat has followed me into my married life. My husband, also a butcher, loves red meat as much as I do therefore it’s quite a regular on the dinner menu. I’ve begun to cook red meat less than I used to because I found we weren’t getting in a lot of vegetables because of it – it’s still something we cook around once a week though.
There are many different versions to this traditional recipe – my Mother has a complete different recipe to me and I have seen a number of recipes vastly different to mine! Some of my Aunts use yogurt in their masala, but most use tomatoes. Some people keep the shorba (soup) thick, like pasta sauce, or very watery – some don’t have any shorba at all, cooking it like a bhuna curry. I like my Aloo Gosht soupy to drench my rice with. Many people use a pressure cooker to cook the meat – I don’t own one and the idea of using one scares me! So I stick to my
safer normal pot with a regular lid.
What is striking about Aloo Gosht however, is that no matter how the process goes down, as long as the spices are adjusted to be juuuuust right (but then, there’s always spice variations in each kitchen!), it’s always the epitome of comfort food. There’s just something about it.
My recipe requires a slow simmer for 2-2.5 hours with the heat barely passing the medium-mark for more then ten minutes throughout the entire recipe – about 45 minutes slowly simmering the masala, then again simmering for an hour with the meat, then again with the potatoes till they are tender, approximately half an hour. Yes, it takes long but I strongly believe all that effort is worth it a hundred times over. All this cooking will yield a flavoursome, rich soup with tender, falling off the bone meat and potatoes drenched in flavour. You can adjust this recipe to be cooked in a pressure cooker or even a slow cooker – I can’t vouch for the adjusted times or end results though!
I’m extremely sentimental about the shorba in Aloo Gosht (and most shorba curries, actually). It needs to be absolutely perfect – no big chunks of onion floating around, no thick and gloopy shorba, none of that flavourless soup that looks like boiled water. Nope, I’m not having any of it! My Mother taught me shorba curries need to look a certain way – they should be a shade of brown and slightly red in colour, the oil floating to the top and separating around the edges, with a distinguished yellowish orange rim. You see those little bubbles at the top of the curry? That’s the oil! Fear not – the oil floating to the top doesn’t mean this curry is drenched in oil; it just means that the curry was cooked for long enough for the oil to separate from the water of the curry, something that is very important in South-East Asian cooking. If the oil hadn’t risen to the top of the curry, my Mother would declare the curry a fail without even tasting it.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with your carbohydrate of choice for the ultimate Pakistani comfort food experience. I love my Aloo Gosht with plain white basmati rice, but my husband isn’t fussed and will have it with anything!
Enjoy, with love x
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