It is apt that video blogger Sawan Dutta begins her recipe for kosha mangsho, a Bengali mutton curry, in the minor key. Kosha mangsho is not the sort of food you can trivialise with a sunny waltz.
Her intro is dark and forbidding – the two words that best describe the dish, depending on which end of the culinary spectrum your skills inhabit. Cooked correctly, a kosha mangsho is a caramel-hued wonder, silky and thick, flecked with gorom moshla. But in the face of ineptitude, it turns into an insipid jhol the colour of dishwater, the kind served by well-meaning third cousins when you visit them in London for the first time.
Dutta treads a fine line on this front. She commits the cardinal sin of all kosha mangsho attempts – the pressure cooker. In her defence, she is clearly aware of her transgression. But no matter how much you try to reassure me in the next line, Sawan, this cook will not touch “all this shortcut”.
Yes, there is plenty of reason to worry, and no, you can’t be in a hurry to cook this curry. This is not a speedy weeknight meal for a disinterested spouse. It is a triumph of the Maillard reaction, to be achieved slowly on a Sunday as you lovingly watch the onions go through the five stages of delicious. And speaking of delicious onions, diluting them with a watery tomayto? I’ll pass.
Then again, the video is equal parts cooking lesson and musical masterstroke. Never before has the word “tender” been rhymed with “coriander” more convincingly. Plus, the steel-lids-as-cymbals bit never gets old – my shrieking Bengali co-watchers will attest to that.