Garam Masala Tuesdays: Mutton Patiala

by Shumaila

The cuisine of India that we love and cherish today is, to a large extent, indebted to the raja/ maharajas (kings) that ruled India.

Until the second half of the 19th century when India officially became a British possession, rajas (kings) ruled different states of India. When the British officially took over, Rajas and otherwise styled Hindu rulers were elevated to Maharajas. Stripped from most of their political power, and the worries of protecting their states from other invaders, lots of Maharajas took their attention to finer details of life.

Under the British, Patiala (a city in the Northern Indian state of Punjab) was the most important Sikh state. The most famous Maharaja of Patiala was Bhupinder Singh (1900–1938).  Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was a larger than life personality. His appetite for everything wine, women, jewels, sports etc was gargantuan. It was he who gave the Patiala state a prominent place on the political map of India and, in the field of international sports. Most of the buildings with splendid architectural designs were constructed during his reign. He was also the only Maharaja to be gifted a Maybach by Adolf Hitler!

Bhupinder Singh loved his food. He actually had a separate bakery in his kitchen and loved French cuisine (I think he and I would have gotten along really well, if not for the whole Hitler friendship thingy, although come to think of it, maybe I would have also accepted a Maybach, so what if it came from Hitler? Right? or is it still creepy?).

And although, there is no written record of the origin of Mutton Patiala (well, atleast not one I could find), Patiala Shahi Gosht (aka Mutton Patiala) was favorite with the great gourmet Bhupinder Singh. And he made sure that the dish saw its popularity.

Shahi Gosht here means royal mutton, shahi means royal and gosht translated in english is mutton or lamb. And since this recipe came from the Royal House of Patiala, it is called “patiala shahi gosht

Although in our household it was always referred to as Mutton Patiala.

Now, everyone loves my mom’s cooking- she is a great cook. But, there are few recipes that have made her cooking skills more famous than others.

One is her date cake recipe (which I promise to share one of these days) and the other is her Mutton Patiala recipe. To be fair, the recipe is actually Jiggs Kalra’s but she totally nails the recipe. And why shouldn’t she- she is from Patiala.

To tell you the truth, I am not a lamb meat fan. But I love this dish of hers- especially the curry. The fat from the lamb, along with the other spices give an amazing flavor to the curry, which make it irresistible to eat. So when my mom made it for V and me when she was visiting us (yes, this recipe has been sitting in my folders for a long time) , both of us enjoyed every bit of it.

Fun Fact: Patiala, besides being known for its food, phulkari and salwars, is also famous for it’s alcohol serving ever since it was ruled by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who was a heavy drinker.Two double heavy pegs are called a patiala peg. There are lot of local songs which refer to this term and when it comes to taking large pegs people often mention it as such.

Patiala peg and shahi gosht” is also quite a famous combination which many people visiting Patiala prefer. So, feel free to shoot up some Patiala pegs while working on the mutton. They do make a lovely combination! I speak from experience 🙂


Patiala Shahi Gosht (or Mutton Patiala) is a lamb stew with juicy pieces of lamb simmered in a light sauce with onions, tomatoes and mild spice. Traditionally cooked in a handi, my mom uses the pressure cooker to make this dish. But you could use a dutch oven as well. It would take longer- but the longer the meat is cooked on low heat, the better the flavors are. Serves 4.


List 1:

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3 onions, finely diced
  • 750 gm mutton (lamb pieces- preferably from the leg and deboned)
  • 4 tsp ginger paste
  • 4 tsp garlic paste

Whole spices:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2 inch)
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

List 2:

  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds.
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4 tsp coriander powder


  1. In a dutch oven or pressure cooker (see note above), heat the ghee and oil. Once hot, add the onions, mutton and salt and fry on medium-low heat until both are light brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste, and cook for 8-10 minutes more.
  2. Put whole spices in the cooker with the mutton. Stir for 30 seconds. If using a dutch oven, add about 3 cups of water, cover and simmer, stirring until the lamb is tender. If using a pressure cooker, add 1 1/2 cups of water to the mutton and let cook on high for one whistle. Then reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from fire and once the pressure drops, check if the lamb is tender. If tender, remove it from the gravy and keep aside. If not tender, you can keep the lamb in and proceed with the rest of the steps.
  4.  Add the ingredients listed under list 2, except the ground cumin seeds. Increase to medium heat, and cook until  tomatoes become soft and the oil separates.. Add 1/4 cup water and simmer.
  5. Cut a 2 inch piece of ginger into roundels (about 2 tbsp ginger) and add to the gravy. If you removed the lamb before, add to the gravy, and let simmer in the gravy for another 5 minutes. (If the mutton is still not cooked, give it another steam in the pressure cooker.)
  6. Add cumin powder and stir for a minute. Adjust the seasoning.
  7. Serve with rice, or paranthas (Indian flatbread).