Goat’s Head Curry,Brain Chutney& Dal With Bamboo Shoots

A meal of rice, dal with bamboo shoots,  brain chutney, and goat’s head curry

A delicacy of the Dimasas that I have not written about so far is goat’s head. It’s made into curry usually thickened with rice flour. It can be cooked with other vegetables also but this is the most popular version. And if we have the head, the brain is made into chutney. With a meal like this you don’t need any other accompaniment. But since I had some bamboo shoots, I also made dal.

Cleaning the goat’s head takes some time but the process itself enhances the taste of the curry. First boil some water in a large pan. Once it comes to boiling point take it off the heat and immerse the head in it. Keep for a few minutes. Take it out with a pair of tongs, take a sharp knife and scrape off all the hair. Some of the hair will remain so the head now needs to go to an open flame but before doing that the ears need to be removed. I prefer using a wood fire in my backyard for this purpose. Using a skewer hold the head over the flame turning it round so that all parts are singed. This will turn the head into a blackish hue but not to worry as the smokiness imparts a wonderful flavour to the dish.
The goat’s head can now be cut into regular pieces with certain inedible parts discarded. The brain can be taken out and kept aside to be made into a delicious chutney.

1 goat’s head cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces
3-4 tejpatta
2 large onions, grated
1 tbsp coarsely pounded red chilli powder
8 cloves of garlic, ground to a coarse paste
1 thumb-size ginger, grated
1 tsp black pepper powder, coarsely ground
Half a thumb size fresh turmeric ground to a paste
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
4 tbsp oil
4 tbsp rice flour ( I used sticky rice with a reddish tinge)
A bunch of serrated coriander for the garnish

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. When it comes to smoking point, add the tejpatta and the onions.
Fry for a few minutes then add the meat. Stir, then add the rest of the spices. Stir again. Keep covered and the heat on high. Check at regular intervals.
Season with salt and if it catches at the bottom sprinkle some water, stir well and put the lid back on. 
The entire process of cooking this dish might take anything between 40-50 minutes. But rather than use a pressure cooker I prefer cooking this way.
Check to see if the meat has softened.
Add about four cups of water keeping in mind that the gravy will be thickened with rice flour later.
When the meat is completely done, check the seasoning.
Make a paste of the rice flour and pour it into the curry stirring with a ladle throughout so that no rice flour lumps form.
Remove from the flame, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with not-too-finely-cut chopped serrated coriander. 

Most people prefer to use the pressure cooker to soften the meat and then cook it in the regular way in a karhai. Sometimes the smell of the goat’s head can be very strong. In this case (or even otherwise) a few lemon leaves are torn/shredded and added as a garnish.

The brain chutney:
Place the brain in a small pan and add a little amount of water. Let it cook for a few minutes then add finely chopped onions and a few chopped green chillies. Add some slivers of fresh ginger. Let it cook till the water dries up. Season with salt. Mash the chutney with the back of a spoon and garnish with finely chopped coriander.
Traditionally, the tongue and the ears (after cleaning) are added to brain chutney. Yes, we waste nothing!:)

I added these bamboo shoots in the dal. When I buy the shoots I prepare them for the next few meals, cleaning, slicing, boiling, draining and keeping them in the fridge. So for the dal I didn’t have to go through the entire process. Just took a handful out and added to masur dal. The tempering was done with chillies, onions and ginger. Chopped chives were used as a garnish.

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