Sunday, October 3, 2010


Yakhni is a kind of mutton stew from Kashmir. It is simple to make, probably the simplest mutton recipe I know. It was taught and in fact, demonstrated to me by a Kashmiri known for his culinary skills and so the recipe I give you here is about as authentic as you are likely to get. You will need a couple of slightly non standard ingredients -- soont which is dry ginger powder (it cannot be substituted by fresh ginger!) and powdered fennel seeds (saunf). You will also need the big black cardamon, not the small green one. Also, note that Yakhni is always made with meat from the seena i.e near the breast because it is fatty. However, if you are making it in the warmer plains, like me, you may want to go easy on the fattiness of the meat. Soont and fennel powder are ubiquitous in Kashmiri cooking so if you plan on branching off in that direction, keep these handy in your kitchen.


Mutton 1/2 kilo, usually from near the breast
Dry ginger powder - 2 tbsp
Fennel powder (ground saunf) -- 2 tbsp
Black cardamon - 4
Cinnamon stick - couple of 1 inch sticks
cloves -- 4-5
Black peppercorns (optional) -- 1 tsp
Yoghurt - 1 large cup, beaten smooth
Oil -- 1 tbsp
Salt to taste


In a large pot or pressure cooker, place the mutton, add water to just barely cover it, add all the above ingredients except the yoghurt. As I said, this is a stew and the usual paraphernalia of frying meat and spices is skipped. (Trust me, it tastes great nonetheless). Boil this whole combo till the meat is cooked (about 15 - 20 minutes if using a pressure cooker). Let the cooker cool, then open it. If there is too much water, reduce it till it barely covers the meat. Cool it again and then slowly add the yoghurt. (As I have noted earlier, adding yoghurt to the hot pot makes it split). The gravy is not thick, but it should not be watery. Adjust the salt as needed, give it one final boil and serve with plain basmati rice.