A forgotten recipe of Maharashtra Coriander Mutton:

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 17 May 2017 12:38:56

By sumit paul,

Pakistani writer and scholar Dr Fahmida Riyaaz once aptly remarked that, “Food brings people of different countries together.” In the present context, one should say that food brings people of two warring countries together, considering the ongoing strained relations that exist between India and Pakistan. Well, to cut the matter short, recently I stumbled upon a fleeting reference to a non-vegetarian dish in a Pakistani Urdu daily. It was Qazbeer Gosht of Baluchistan region.

The very name rings a bell because it encompasses a shared culinary history of two countries which were same just seven decades ago. Before I descant upon the dish that went from India to Pakistan, I must tell the readers that the Persian word Qazbeer (coriander or dhania in Hindi) wormed into the corpus of Persian language from Kothimbir ( it connotes dhania in Marathi)! Both the languages have many common words and some of the linguists of Marathi/Persian are of the view that nearly 2600 words in Marathi have a Persian origin.

Persian also borrowed words from Marathi and adapted them in its milieu. Now the question is how did it travel to Pakistan’s Baluchistan province from the hinterland of Maharashtra? You’re all aware of the 3rd Battle of Panipat (January 14, 1761) fought between the army of Ahmad Shah Abdali and Marathas in 1761. Abdali’s army defeated Marathas and many Maratha soldiers and chieftains were captured and taken to Baluchistan province which is now in Pakistan. There’re still many Maratha families in that region who’re Hindus and invariably use fractured Marathi despite writing it in Urdu!!

Those people of Maharashtrian origin tried to perpetuate their culture, esp. their culinary heritage, by sticking to their food items and preparations. Coriander Mutton or Qazbeer Gosht is one such example of retaining the aroma of Maharashtrian culture and terrains in Pakistan even after over 250 years!!

Coriander Mutton is different from Mint Lamb which is a typical Mughlai preparation. The main thing about Coriander Mutton is that the colour of the gravy remains red unlike the Mint Lamb that has a greenish gravy, thanks to mint’s colour. A very little paste of coriander is put in the gravy for a soothing effect and despite getting mixed, coriander makes its presence felt and retains its distinct aroma with every morsel.

To prepare this dish, a medium-sized goat is chosen. Its meat is lightly pounded (but not turned into qeema or pounded meat). Then the partially pounded pieces of meat is roasted on a stone slab. I’m of the opinion that Decaan Hyderabad's famed Patthar Gosht came from Marathas’ way of cooking Coriander Mutton.

The pieces of meat are always small and the gravy is very thick. It’s worthwhile to state that only Marathas of that period and Iranians cooked meat in its own juices, making the broth naturally thick and quaintly spicy.

This Coriander Mutton is eaten with chapatis and rice nowadays, but earlier, bhaakhri or bread loafs would be used to eat it with. I’m happy that this dish is still alive, though far away. After all, food is the greatest traveller. Isn’t it? That the dish is not extinct is a matter of joy! l