Rajasthani Laal Maas Recipe
One of the most sought after recipes of Rajasthan from Royal era. Those times when hunting was a game and was followed diligently by the Royals of the region.
The hunting meet was prepared by the servants for their masters. The jungle maas was quite popular. Junglee means from the forest. Junglee Maas led to the birth of Laal Maas.
The Junglee Maas as well as Laal Maas were invented by the Khansamas for their Masters in the royal kitchens of Rajasthan.
Let’s see how these dishes evolved.
The Royal Junglee Maas
In those days, every king had at least ten khansamas, whose primary responsibility it was to experiment with new foods and bring them to the king every day. For instance, the breakfast would include at least 10 dishes, at least five of which had to be new and not repeated from the previous days.
This brought out the best in each khansama, and during wild hunting trips, the king would only take along the best khansamas to feed the entourage during the trip, which began early in the morning and ended when it was time to return, generally around noon or at night.
The kill would be brought to the hunting kitchen, a temporary setup used to prepare food for the royal hunting party and clean up after the kill.
There was a strict rule that the royal hunting party should not smell the hunt, such as the stench of raw meat, blood, feathers, and so on, coming from the makeshift kitchen set up just a few metres away.The meat, such as wild boars, deer, etc., would be marinated by the khansama in yogurt, garlic, and a few chillies.
The marinated meat was then roasted over an open flame and served to the royal hunting party. This is how Junglee Maas was prepared.
Evolution of the Royal Laal Maas
Soon, the game meat roast and its style of cooking were becoming boring.
The kings wanted their Khansamas to become more innovative and creative in preparing the game meat. The demands of the day included that the meat should be succulent, hot and have a good aftertaste as well.
The major challenge was to mask the odour of the game meat. Later, after a few failed attempts, the Khansamas then used the chillies to overcome this.
The meat chunks were first smeared with spices and some chillies.
Then, ghee was used to cook these, giving them a chewy yet sweet flavour.
Then, depending on the desired gravy consistency, it was covered in a paste made of chilies, ghee, garlic, spices, and yoghurt and slow simmered for an additional 40 minutes to an hour.
In those days, water was limited in Rajasthan, so the dish was dry and later developed a semi-solid consistency.
There is a mention of a contest that resulted in the creation of the final Laal Maas recipe. The House of Mewar won it. And so this cuisine continued to be associated with the men of Mewar.
It is seen both as a survival food as well as a celebratory dish that can bring people together.
Mathania Chilli – The Game Changer
The Laal Maas is distinguished by the red colour it gets from the Mathania chillies.
The Mathania village in the Jodhpur region of Rajasthan is where these chilies are cultivated, earning it its name.
When ground and added to a meal, the mathania mirch’s intense red colour stands out. The Mathania chillies are not hot in nature but have a fiery red colour. These chillies are mostly used along with other hotter red chillies to get the desired heat in the dish.
Chillies contain sugar in them and when they are cooked over a long period of time, they release their sugar and that is why they give a sweet aftertaste.
No Tomatoes, No Cumin and Coriander Powder: Tomatoes are a strict no-no in this dish. Similarly, cumin and coriander powders are not used.
No green chilies and no coriander leaves: green chilies are not used in the dish. The heat should always come from the combination of dry red chilies. In addition, the only garnish is a smoked clove and ghee.
When the dish is made, a cup with a burning piece of charcoal infused with cloves and desi ghee is placed on top of the preparation and the utensil is sealed. The smoke of the burning charcoal redolent of the aromas of desi ghee and cloves just elevates the whole dish.
Kashmir Chilies Are Not Traditionally Used
Although you can still use Kashmiri chillies in this recipe, the final product won’t have the same colour and flavour as when Mathania mirch is used.
Don’t use the colour red either. More than colour, flavour is what gives a dish its soul.
Since it was a dish invented by hunters, the dish was initially made using wild boar or deer. It is regarded as a different type of roganjosh and must be exceedingly hot.
The dish is the opposite of roganjosh, a specialty of Kashmir that is sometimes cooked incorrectly in restaurants.
The Rogan josh has a very thin gravy, with the rogan constituting its top layer. Unlike a Rogan josh, the laal maas is a thick and semi dry curry.
Laal Maas Recipe Ingredients
- Mathania red chili – The non-negotiable ingredient. If you are unable to get your hands on it, use a mix of regular red chili powder and kashmiri/byadgi chili powder
- Mustard Oil
500 g tender goat meat, curry cut
Red Chilli Paste
- 6 pc red chilly
- 3 pc Mathania red chilly or Byadagi red chilly or use 2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 spoon water
- 8 pc garlic cloves
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup mustard oil
- 4 pc onion
For the Curry
- 1/2 cup curd
- salt to taste
- 1 cup water
Preparation for Laal Maas
- Soak the red chilies (both varieties, as mentioned under “Red Chilli Paste”) in hot water for half an hour.
- Slice the onions.
- In a wok, heat the mustard oil.
- Once the oil starts smoking, add the onions and fry till they turn golden brown. Separate and keep aside. Do not discard the oil.
- Peel the garlic.
- In a mixie, make a paste of the garlic and soaked red chilies with a pinch of salt.
Cooking the Authentic Rajasthani Lal Maas
- In the same wok where you fried the onions, add the meat pieces.
- Keep the heat on medium flame and fry the meat for 15 minutes.
- Add the red chilli paste along with fried onions and curd.
- Stir briskly to avoid the curd from curdling.
- Cook on a medium flame, covered.
- Uncover every 5 minutes to stir in order to avoid the spices from sticking to the bottom of the wok and burning the curry. Cover and cook till done.
- Add water. Bring it to a boil.
- Add salt, cook covered for another 10 minutes.
- Uncover and cook till the gravy reaches a semi-solid consistency.
- Put off the flame. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with chapati, naan, roti etc.
The dish is akin to the Mathania mirchi found in the Rajasthani village of Mathania. Try to go with Byadagi if you can’t get your hands on Mathania. Use Kashmiri red mirch powder if that isn’t also an option.
The gravy is somewhat solid. You can cut the amount of water in half.
The right result is obtained with tender goat meat. If goat meat is not available, an alternative option is lamb.
Never add tomatoes, cumin, or coriander powder to the dish.
Laal Maas can be smoked with ghee and clove on hot charcoal, but it’s optional. Although sugar is not added in the original recipe, a bit of sugar added towards the end makes a huge difference in the flavour.
Avoid compromising and substitute other refined oils with mustard oil. The pungency from the mustard oil, combined with the heat from the chillies, adds much-needed flavour.
Make and serve it your loved ones. Let us know, did they like Laal Maas?