Heard of a vegetarian mutton curry? Here are my recipes for mangshor jhol including a niramish version for Kali Pujo

Mangshor jhol bhaat with some gondhoraj lebu to squeeze into the 'salad"

Diwali is coming up and I have been busy over the past few days connecting with food writers, chefs and restaurant owners from across the country to get an idea of food that they have during Diwali in their community. The journey of discovery has been quite an exciting one indeed.

When it comes to us Bengalis, it is the Kali Pujo that is observed more than Diwali. Bursting firecrackers and lighting candles on the terrace of my grandparent's house in Kolkata were a big part of my Kali Pujo memories.

What about the food during Kali Pujo?

Well there are a few Kali Pujos in Mumbai, such as the Notun Palli Pujo at the Bandra Hindu Association Hall and the Durga Bari Pujo at the Tejpal Auditorium, which served Bhog 11 pm at night. Kali Pujo happens at night after all with the fire-crackers lighting up the dark new moon night.

Khichuri bhog

The bhog in these pujos is vegetarian and usually consists of khichuri, a vegetable fry and a side dish, chutney and sweets.

However, my Kali Pujo food memories from Kolkata revolve around mangshor jhol  (goat meat curry) and rice feasts. This traditional Sunday favourite of Bengali homes was also a favourite on Kali Pujo.

When I was growing up in Kolkata, we would gather at my grand parents place on Kali Pujo. Didu, my grandmom, would make mutton curry for all of us to eat after my brother, cousins , and I were done with bursting crackers.

The mangshor jhol is a simple, light, flavourful and more 'home-food' like dish than the kosha mangsho which is more festive and rich.

As I learnt later through friends such as Kurush Dalal, a Parsi married to a Mumbai Bengali (!), and blogs such as this, the mangshor jhol (mutton curry) made during Kali Pujo is ‘slightly’ different from mutton curry made at home.

The Kali Pujo mutton curry is apparently a niramish or vegetarian (!) goat meat curry.

Foxed? Well, ‘vegetarian’ in this case means cooked with no onion and no garlic!

The jhol, or curry, would be thinner in this case than onion based curries and would use curd and spices, and at times tomato, for the flavour base.

I put this up on Facebook and there was an interesting discussion on the origins of the 'proshadi' or 'niramish' mangshor jhol and why the goat curry made with meat of the sacrificial goat of the patha boli, offered to the Goddess Kali, was made sans onion and garlic. You will find snippets of the conversation, which talks about the origins of the dish, at the end of this post.

We used to go to a family friend's house at Ramgor in Kolkata during my childhood days for Kali Pujo. I have had the mutton curry served there the afternoon after the puja which happens at midnight. I have no recollection of whether they had a patha boli and whether the mangshor jhol was niramish. All I know was that I loved the experience of sitting down with people and having mangshor jhol bhaat.

From what I hear, patha boli happens rarely in Kolkata now. My mother says that chal kumro, a sort of gourd/ pumpkin is cut symbolically instead. While writing this posy I realised that, thanks to my parents and maternal grandparents, I had a rather laissez faire upbringing when it came to religious and other customs so a lot of these rituall are things that I am learning as I grow up. My take on traditions is that it's great to discover them and observe them but one should not get trapped in them.

Didu's mutton curry on Kali Pujo was for members of the family who would get together at her place. I don't know whether it was amish or niramish but it sure made us really happy.

The Kali Pujo mutton curry memories from my didu’s house made me make mangshor jhol a few days back at our home in Mumbai. I called for mutton from Jude’s at Pali Naka and marinated it curd and spices and cooked it early in the day.

Manghsor jhol in the Milton MicroWoW casserole

We had a busy evening with cleaning work going on in the kitchen. So I transferred the contents of the pressure cooker into the Milton MicroWoW casserole before the chaos of Diwali cleaning at home started.

In you go

Later in the evening, I put the casserole without the lid into the microwave ,and heated it for 4 minutes. Though the casserole had a stainless steel interior, nothing untoward happened. I was quite surprised to see this, given that one doesn't put metal objects in the microwave. The box in which the Milton MicroWow came said one could, But I was sceptical earlier. 

The Milton MicroWoW handled the microwave with applomb

So this was a first for me. The jhol came out nice and hot.  I covered the casserole with the lid and shut it tight so that we could have the curry later.

I kept the mutton in the Milton MicroWow casserole in the hall and finished the Diwali article that I was working on.
We came back into the hall about a couple of hours later. I opened the casserole and was happy to see that the curry was still hot. This meant  I could avoid going to the kitchen, which I didn’t have access to in any case with the cleaning on, to heat the food and yet have hot mangshor jhol and bhaat (rice).

While I have shared my kosha mangsho recipe in the past, I thought I will share the mangshor jhol with you too.

Dinner was ready

Mangshor Jhol Recipe


  • 500 g mutton/ goat meat on the bone, marinated in 100 g curd and 1 teaspoon each of garam masala and Kashmiri red chilli powders and 1.5 teaspoons each of turmeric and cumin and coriander powders, 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar
  • 2 potatoes cut into half
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or mustard oil (more ‘authentic’)
  • Paste of 2 onions (not added in niramish)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste, ½ teaspoon garlic paste (not added in niramish)
  • Paste of 1 tomato,
  • 2.5 coffee mugs of water
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (optional)

Cooking Process:

1.     Heat oil in a pressure cooker pan
2.     Add whole garam masala and tej patta and dry red chillies
3.     Add 1 freshly ground onion. Skip this if you want to make niramish jhol
4.   Add the ginger and garlic paste once the onion browns (or once the garam masala splutters if there is no onion). No garlic if it’s niramish
5.  Add the puree of two tomatoes. There are many Bengali households which don’t use tomatoes. My granny does. She grew up in a house in Dhaka where there were tomato trees. It’s up to you if you want to add it but I would advise you do specially if it is niramish
6.     Add the marinated mutton and potatoes and stir and cook for about 10 minutes
7.     Add the water and bring to boil
8.    Close the pressure pan lid, keep the gas flame high and wait for 6 to 7 whistles. Then reduce the flame and let it cook on a low flame for 30 minutes
9.    Add some powdered garam masala and a teaspoon of either mustard oil or Jhorna ghee (cow’s milk) at the end to the dish for more flavour

Your mangshor jhol is ready and it is best had with plain rice.

Happy Kali Pujo, Dhanteras, Diwali and New Year folks

Which plate do you prefer

This post was done in association with Milton

Do check out this video to know more about the Milton MicroWow!


A Post on niramish mangshor jhol evoked a lot of conversation on my Facebook page and I am sharing some of that here


Kurush F Dalal said…
Seriously Kalyan its the best Bong Mutton preparation I have ever had and Monidipa (my sis in law) uses copius amounts of ghee and a really riyaji (fatty/rich) mutton :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Inspired by your comment, I cooked the mangsho. will make it for you when you are back. hardly took any time. best part was no chopping onions