Kosha Mangsho is one of those quintessential Bengali dishes that you will see on every Bengali restaurant menu and is usually in the repertoire of most Bengali housewives. However, it's not something my Mom ever made and I was introduced to it somewhere in my 20s in a small Bengali restaurant called Radhika in Pune. Since then I have seen and eaten many versions of this dish and have wanted to try making it myself too.
There seem to be two fundamental points of difference with Kosha Mangsho - a thick minimal gravy versus a a thinner jhol like gravy, and cooked in a pressure cooker or cooked directly in a wok or thick bottomed vessel. Somehow I have always preferred the thicker less gravy version and the non pressure cooker method is after all, the real way to do it - so that's what I did.
I have an inherent inability to follow rules and it was the same with the Kosha Mangsho. Even though I hadn't ever made it myself before, I didn't want it to have the typical Bengali taste and flavour. I was in the mood for something different. So I decided to use the technique and play with the flavours.
I went through my spices in the pantry cupboard and chanced upon the Bahraini Spice mix that my fried Jubal had shared with me. This spice is a beautiful blend of the usual garam masala spices with the added zing of dried lemons that is typical to the area. It works wonderfully with pork and with goat meat and I was sure it would make a killer kosha mangsho.
Here's what the spice bottle looks like. the black streak that you see at the top of the bottle is the dried lemon. You have to empty out the bottle and mix everything up really well. Sorry for this sorry looking image!
Kosha Mangsho with Bahraini Garam Masala
1 kilo goat meat, cut into small pieces
150gms fresh curd/dahi
ginger garlic paste
Bahraini Garam Masala
3 large onions, chopped really fine
1 star anise
3 inch piece cassia bark
3 bay leaves
4 potatoes, cut into quarters
Marinate the meat in the first six ingredients and let it sit for as many hours as possible. Marinate overnight if you can, or at least 4 hours.
I used a thick bottomed biryani deghchi to make the kosha mangsho and it worked perfectly. Use a thick bottomed kadai or wok or just use your pressure cooker as a pan.
Heat about half a cup of mustard oil till it smokes and then reduce the heat. Fry the potatoes till they are nicely red and then remove and keep aside. In the same oil throw in the whole spices keeping the heat at medium so you don't burn them. Add the finely chopped onions and fry well for about five minutes. Keep the heat on low and let the onions cook slowly. Add half a teaspoon of sugar and stir well. Don't brown the onions, just let them fry slowly till the edges start to turn colour.
Add the meat pieces one at a time without too much of the marinade. Reserve the marinade. Zap up the heat and braise the meat well. Keep stirring because you don't want to burn the onions. Coat the meat pieces well with the onion mix and braise for five minutes or so. This preparation needs some attention so be prepared to stir and stir!
Once the meat is well seared you can reduce the heat to medium and add the reserved marinade. The curd in the marinade and the onions will both release water as will the meat so don't add any water to the cooking pot. Use a frugal quarter cup of water to wash out the marinade that's stuck to your bowl and keep it aside. Once you've added the marinade give it all a good mix and cover the pot. Reduce the heat as soon as the liquid in the pot starts to bubble. Let the meat cook in this steam undisturbed for about 10 minutes.
Add the marinade wash water, give it another good stir and braise covered for another five minutes. You have to keep coming back to stir and add water, very little at a time. This process continues till the meat is cooked. Depending on the quality of the meat this could take anything from 45 minutes to an hour. Add the potatoes when the meat is about 80% done. If they get cooked too soon, remove them to a plate and add them again later. That's what I did.
Your kosha mangsho is ready once the meat is cooked through and is tender.
Serve the kosha mangsho with luchis, parathas, or even the wonderful Malabar parathas.