India is no stranger to nose-to-tail cooking. Our ancestors have been applying it to the goat for generations now, but sadly a lot of the offals that were once considered delicacies, have fallen out of favour with people. I too remember being biased towards chops and mushk (shanks) all my life. My Sindhi mutton curry without them just wasn’t the real deal. Having said that, once you wrap your head around the frightening increase in the demand for food in the world and the lack of resources to produce it, you’ll definitely want to waste less.
Embracing a more sustainable approach to cooking changed my attitude towards the meat I was bringing home. I picked up kaleji (liver) in place of my usual chops over the weekend, and I’ll bring home paya (trotters) next week for a rainy day special bone broth. I might be ignorant of the amount of food waste an average butcher shop sees on a daily, but I feel a little goes a long way. Cooking more often with these lesser-cuts would definitely increase a demand for them in the long run, and eventually save all of us a lot of grief.
This liver fry recipe below is a spicy one. I don’t pressure cook the liver here, but instead keep it immersed in lukewarm salted water till it is ready to be tossed in. Since this makes a relatively drier dish, I also made a quick chutney from the last of a large batch of ripe sweet-tart Zespri KiwiFruits to bring some flavour to the table. Get your rotis/parathas/naans involved when assembling this, and why not invite some raita and pickled onions to the party too?
#Afterword Bheja (brains), paya (trotters), gurda (kidney), kaleji (liver), khiri (udder) and kapura (testicles) are popular, but dil (heart), phaypra (lungs) and jeeb (tongue) are a few offals that I would love some recipes for.
Mutton Liver Fry with Kiwi Chutney
Mutton livers 500g
Salt for the brine
Curry leaves 10-15
Vegetable oil 1/4 cup
Pink onions 4-5, medium sized, finely chopped
Garlic 8-10 cloves, minced
Ginger 2″ inch piece, minced
Green chillies 4
Tomatoes 3, chopped
Ground Turmeric 1/2 tsp, ground
Garam masala 1 tsp
Meat masala 1 tsp
Ground coriander 1 1/2 tsp
Ground cumin 1/2 tsp
Chopped coriander a good handful
Fresh kokum 4-5, whole
Salt to taste
The Kiwi Chutney
Zespri Kiwi Fruit 2, ripe, flesh scooped out
Coriander leaves a good handful, stems intact
Onion 1/2, medium-sized
Garlic 1 large clove
Green chilli 1-2
Chana Dal 2 tbsp, roasted
Fresh Coconut 1/4 cup, grated
Limes 2, juiced
Salt to taste
Blitz together all the ingredients for the Kiwi Chutney.
Clean the mutton liver and cut the it into 1-inch pieces. Warm a pot full of salted water over low heat. It should be lukewarm. Take it off the flame and add the liver to the water and keep it immersed till you need to add it to the pan. This osmosis will draw out the blood and break down some of the proteins helping you cook it better.
Pound together the ginger, garlic and green chillies and keep aside.
Heat the oil and add the curry leaves and let it splutter. Next, add the finely chopped onions and fry till golden brown over medium-high heat. Once they have browned satisfactorily, add in the ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and fry for another minute. Add the turmeric powder and the chopped tomatoes together with a teaspoon of salt. Fry this on medium heat till the tomatoes have broken down. Now add all the leftover masalas and 3/4th of the fresh coriander, leaving some for garnishing later.
Continue to fry this till the oil begins to separate from the edges. At this stage, drain the water from the liver and tip it into the pan. Stir-fry the livers for a minute or two over low heat. Cover and cook this. The livers will give out their own water and cook in it.
Whenever you uncover the pan, you can sprinkle a teaspoon of water over the top when you feel it is sticking to the base. What you are looking for is a dry dish at the end, not a soggy and drenched gravy.
When you feel the liver is almost cooked, add in the kokum and give it a good stir. Cover and cook for a few more minutes, taste for salt, and take it off the flame. Serve together with a paratha or a roti. This is a great time to fish out those frozen paratha packets from your freezer and use it up. Serve this with the kiwi chutney and quick pickled onions.