I like a good bowl of chicken or goat stew on a cold and clammy day like this. When I refer to stew, the idea of slow cooked meat and vegatables, in a lipsmacking broth comes to mind. Thats the kind of stew my mom used to whip up at home. But then there's another variety of stew which was around when I grew up, n the city I grew up. It was the same goodness of stew, in a Lucknowi or Awadhi avatar. Served with fluffy proofed Khamiri rotis, it was goodness in every bite. That was the ISHTOO.

Kolkata has a large influence of Awadhi cuisine , as one of the erstwhile Nawabs had moved to the city of joy. And with him had come his royal chefs, who brought with them, the secrets of Awadhi cuisine . Hence the Biriyani in Kolkata, is of the Awadhi gharana.

What is the Ishtoo , you might ask? And how is it different from the Stew? As the legend goes, the Nawabs of Awadh were known for their colorful social life and cuisine. There were also known for their mingling with the British colonial rulers. The Awadhi royal chef, they say, was intrigued by the Stew , which was often cooked up at the British kitchens in colonial India. The idea was the slow cook, meat, vegetables, with a dash of butter and black pepper corns. The Awadhi Royal Chefs, decided to create their own spin on it. Thus was born the now famous ISHTOO. They stuck to the basic Stew Principles. Meat, vegetables slow cooked, in a broth. They added their own brand of Aromatics. Whole Garam Masala and bay leaves went to the pot. And with it went copious amounts of Ghee. Yes , you heard that right. Especially when its a Mutton Ishtoo, the slow cooking releases the oil and natural fat of the goat, to add to the goodness of ghee. What you get , is a bowl full of bliss.

Ishtoo is always paired with proofed flat bread - Khamiri Roti or Shirmal are the most iconic pairings. But for those of us, who cant lay their hands on such local bread, then Naan does a great alternative. Its a scarilege to pair Ishtoo with rice or even Parathas. Its how they are meant to paired, so I opted for some Mini Naan.

Its decadent. Its a complete meal in its self. Almost like a one pot wonder, if you ask me.

If you have loved the pictures so far, and want to know how you want to re-create it in your kitchen, then go ahead and check out the recipe.


Ingredients : 
Goat on the Bone : 2 lb . Cut into pieces
Ghee : 4- 5 tbsps
Star Anise : 2
Cinnamon Stick : 1 inch stick
Whole Peppercorns : 10 - 12
Green Cardamom : 4- 5
Black Cardamom : 1
Fenne Seeds : 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds : 1 tsp
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder/Paprika : 1 tsp
Onion : 1/2 large - Made into a paste
Ginger Paste : 1 tbsp
Garlic paste : 1 tbsp
Vegetables of Choice - I used Carrots and Potatoes


Grind the ginegr, onion - galrlic in a food processor or blender. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

In a deep pan, or a stock pot, add ghee, while on medium flame on your stove top. Once all the ghee is melted, add in your whole aromatics - black pepper corns, fennel seeds, star anise, black and green cardamom, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds,  and let them realease their magic.

Add in the goat pieces, the onion - ginger-garlic paste , potatoes and carrots, salt and red chili powder. Meat on the bone is always tastier. Ishtoo is not supposed to be super hot, but just a slight heat kick. I used Kashmiri Red Chili Powder, which adds more of a color and aroma, and compromises on the actual heat quotient.

Mix everything well. Cover and cook . I baked mine at 350F in a pre-heated oven for around an hour. You can make it on the stove top too.

Check for seasonings.

Dig into a bowl full of goodness.

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