No festive table can be complete without this tantalizing meat delicacy! Prounounced “oo-lar-thi-ya-the”, this tongue twister of a traditional meat dish fit for a king, showcases all of the rich heritage of Kerala spices & coconut so beautifully in one single dairy-free, nonvegetarian preparation.
Like most marinated meat dishes, this one too tastes much better the following day, by which time, the medley of flavours of the robust spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, cloves have managed to work their magical charm with loads of fragrant aromatics such as curry leaves, ginger, garlic and fine coconut slivers, all of them infusing into the tempering in coconut oil, beautifully coating the meat! No wonder then, that this dish is one of those that are especially the pride of Syrian Christian cooking.
Ularthiyathu traditionally made, is the slow braising style of cooking meats such as beef, lamb or chicken in a heavy cast iron pot with locally grown spices, aromatics & coconut oil to yield tender, melt-in-the-mouth morsels of meat with intense flavours and a great rich brown charring. Today, it is first pressure cooked & then given a gorgeous brown char from outside for convenient faster cooking.
Coconut, fresh fish, duck, local red unpolished rice, toddy, banana, sour kodumpuli, spices and plenty of locally grown fresh beans & vegetables are some of the unique specialities of Kerala cuisine. St Thomas and the Syriacs came in from the Middle East & first settled down in Kottayam, Kerala incorporating these local elements into their food.
What is interesting to note is how most of their traditional meals comprising of a 4 course pattern follow a wonderfully balanced diet providing starch, fibre, fat, vitamins & probiotics. A good example, commencing with a cutlet or Sallas, then Appams with coconut milk (fermented rice pancakes), followed by red rice with meat gravy & vegetables & finally a soothing dessert of plantain (banana) & yoghurt.
Since I do not prefer to cook beef or pork at home, I have perfected a lamb version over the years that my family enjoys wiping every bit of the gravy off the pot it has been cooked in, ensuring there is nothing left to wash thereafter!
I have paired it here with readymade hot flaky Malabar porottas or parathas and homemade sambar, but red or white rice goes well too.
And if you do try out this dish in your home, please do be generous with the fried curry leaves & a few golden fried delicate coconut slivers to top your dish. They only make this delectable preparation all the more droolworthy!
Recipe to Kerala Style Lamb Pepper Roast – Mutton Ularthiyathu
Ingredients (Serves 4 persons)
- 500 grams lamb meat, cut into medium pieces
- 3-4 onions, julienned/chopped
- 2 large / 3 small tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
- ½ teaspoon saunf / fennel seeds powder
- 3 – 4 cloves
- 5 green chillies, slit
- 2 teaspoons garlic, sliced
- 1½ teaspoons ginger, julienned
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3 – 4 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 4 whole green cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder (optional)
- 8 – 10 slivers dry coconut
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil / any other oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder / haldi
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder, or to your taste
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder / dhania powder
- 6 – 8 curry leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- Marinate the lamb with chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, ginger-garlic paste, half the curry leaves, 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and salt. Keep aside for 3-4 hours.
- Pressure cook the lamb with 2-3 cups of water until almost done-about 4-5 whistles.
- Drain the stock & keep aside for later.
- Heat oil, crackle mustard seeds. Add cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves & allow then to darken.
- Add curry leaves, ginger juliennes, sliced garlic and green chilies & sauté a few minutes
- Add onions and sauté till they turn golden brown. Add chopped tomatoes and cook well.
- Put in the cooked lamb and coconut slivers, cook on medium to high heat till dry.
- Sprinkle garam masala powder / crushed pepper and fennel powder.
- Check the seasoning, garnish with lots of fried curry leaves & fried thin slivers of dry coconut.
Making of the Kerala Style Spicy Mutton Pepper Roast