The 'chop' here does not mean a particular cut of meat.
In Bengal and Odisha / Orissa, it refers to a deep fried snack ... usually with a spicy filling encased in a potato or any such binder casing, dipped in gram flour batter and deep fried.
Growing up, and still at school level, eating out was almost a non existent term. Once in a while, we would get a samosa or shingara ... that too, when we had guests at home. Otherwise outside food was a huge no no.
After school, when I started junior college, I insisted on walking to college with the rest of my friends ... most of them from around our home. Given that the college was very near, too near to my home, I did not get to explore too much. But getting that break from the school bus was indeed a huge relief to me.
A quiet girl always, I wouldn't step out of the house unless entirely needed. Not to shop, not to anybody's house to visit. The very thought of meeting people and holding a conversation was unthinkable for me.
But those walks to the college along with a bunch of restless girls did a whole lot of good to me. While they were busy talking and giggling, I would quietly soak in the sight and sounds of the road and its side. So many small shops, selling all kinds of eatables. Some of them would have a huge iron wok or kadahi, black with smoke, oil and usage, sitting in the front, on a mud stove or chulha.
Sometimes a man would be frying some snacks in them, hot oil filled to the brim ... almost ... wielding an equally black and greasy, huge slotted ladle, giving the frying samosas or chops a gentle stir now and then.
Early mornings and the smell of fried snacks ... especially chops and samosas ... will always remain connected in my memories.
There was one shop that had this as a speciality ... the mutton chop or the mangshor chop.
And I had got to taste it once ... just once. My friends would stop at almost any eatery and try out new things everyday. While I wasn't too interested in eating at the time, I would give a skip to many such adventures. But they were successful in making me try out that Mutton chop.
And the taste would haunt me for the rest of my days.
I never got to eat another mutton chop there again. Why ... I don't know. But no chance came along. And after I left home, I would dream of that mutton chop on days when the dabba food was so bad our Aunty's dog would refuse it too. And of course, on ok days too.
It wasn't until recently that I got a chance to recreate that long remembered and much missed taste and flavour in my kitchen. Even since I have been getting to buy mutton, am on a roll.
And so found a hot, humid forenoon me ... sweating it out in the kitchen ... making that mutton chop ... trying to recreate a piece of my childhood.
I will post the Bengali version of the mutton chop sometime in the future.
I had made the filling of the mutton kheema a day before ... to shorten preparation time.
To make the kheema :
Mutton kheema / minced mutton
Ginger + garlic paste
Turmeric / Haldi powder
Red chilli powder
Salt to taste
Oil to fry
Onions - chopped
Garlic - chopped
Ginger - grated
Garam masala powder
Roasted jeera powder
How to :
Cook the kheema in a pressure cooker with a little haldi powder, ginger + garlic paste and salt and a little water ( not too much ... the kheema will release water too).
Around 4 whistles on low heat is good enough ... but of course, will depend on the quality of the mutton.
Heat oil. Add chopped onion, garlic and grated ginger. Fry well.
Add the cooked kheema. Add red chilli powder, dhania powder, roasted jeera powder, garam masala, lemon juice and salt .... one by one.
Keep stirring. Cook till all water dries up ... there should not be any moisture left.
Remove and cool.
This will be the filling for the chops and can be prepared a day or 2 in advance and stored in the fridge.
To make the casings :
The Potato casing :
Boil potatoes, drain, cool and mash into a smooth pulp with some salt and red chilli powder.
Or use the easy way like I did ... add some water to potato flakes and make a mash.
Do add a little corn flour if using the flakes.
The Gram flour batter :
Make a thick batter of besan/ gram flour + rice flour (ratio is around 5 tbsp besan to 1 tbsp rice flour), salt, a pinch of haldi powder and a little red chilli powder.
To make the chops :
Shape the chops like so .... take some of the mashed potato and make a small case and stuff it with a little of the filling. Now carefully cover it to make a smooth ball.
Be careful not to have any cracks on it ... use a finger dipped in water to smoothen out, if any.
Heat enough oil to deep fry ( I used mustard oil).
Take a chop, dip it into the besan batter ... make sure the whole things is covered well ... and carefully let it into the hot oil.
Fry on low heat till golden brown in colour.
Remove with a slotted spoon or ladle and lay it on a paper napkin to drain any excess oil.
Here's a closer look, after frying. See all the three layers?
Serve hot ... I mean real hot.
The smoke coming out when you bite into one, the spices and the heat searing your mouth ... that's what a hot mutton chop should be like.
The perfect snack on a rainy evening, shared with lots of friends or just the family, gathered together over a hot plateful and some ginger tea and laughter and adda on the side.
Enjoy, dear friends!!