MUTTON bone curry is one of the classic Malay dishes usually prepared for the family.
It is seldom served to guests as the dish does not contain much meat.
Mutton is quite an expensive ingredient, so it makes sense to make the best use of every part of the meat.
When mutton bones are aplenty during this period of qurban (sacrificial rites), many households cook this dish to use up the offcuts and tendons.
The use of bones also gives the gravy more flavour and body, especially if you use bone that contains a lot of marrow.
It is best to get a variety of bone parts so that you get a good mixture of meat, tendon and marrow — all in one dish.
You can ask your butcher to cut up a medley of bones such as ribs, shank, spine and shoulder to cater to everyone’s favourite mutton parts.
Because the spice blend is also quite simple to prepare, I don’t usually buy pre-packaged spices. Grinding fresh ones in an electric mill results in a curry that truly tastes home-cooked.
The only ready-made ingredient that I use is kerisik (toasted grated coconut). You may omit this if it is unavailable, or if you do not like the taste.
I personally prefer my curry gravy to be smooth and creamy, and I find the gravy texture a bit coarse and gritty when there is kerisik in the curry.
Families who prepare this dish usually make a big pot of it because it can withstand prolonged cooking and keeps well.
In fact, it tastes even better the next day when the flavours of the spices have penetrated into the meat.
Gulai Tulang Kambing/ Mutton bone curry
4 tbsp cooking oil
3 sprigs curry leaves
5cm cinnamon stick
5 pods cloves
3 pods cardamom
3 pods star anise
1kg mutton bones
3 tbsp meat curry powder
3 tbsp chili powder
3 slices asam gelugur
1 cup thick coconut milk
2 tbsp kerisik, or toasted grated coconut
3 cups water
1 tsp salt to taste
1 tsp sugar to taste
2 bulbs red onions
5 bulbs shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 knob ginger
1 knob galangal
2 red chillies
Blend spice paste ingredients in an electric mill into a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a heavy-bottom pot. Temper curry leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise in hot oil until fragrant. Add spice paste and sauté until dry and fragrant. Add curry powder and chilli powder and toss until oil starts to separate.
Add mutton bones and toss in curry paste until completely coated. Add asam gelugur, coconut milk, kerisik, water, salt and sugar to taste.
Cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for two hours, stirring constantly to keep from burning. If using a pressure cooker, pressurise on high for 40 minutes.
Depressurise when done, then add red chillies and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid into a thick gravy. Serve with steamed rice.