Food Stories: Kunna Gosht

Published March 10, 2015
Kunna is cooked for four to six hours, and is most delectable when cooked with goat meat. —Photo by Fawad Ahmed
Kunna is cooked for four to six hours, and is most delectable when cooked with goat meat. —Photo by Fawad Ahmed

My parents were staunch connoisseurs of furniture, so shopping for it often took them to Chiniot and that’s where I was introduced to the delicious Kunna Gosht, at the age of 12.

Years later, my love for it had grown tenfold and inevitably, it was served as a part of my wedding menu.

Traditionally, Kunna Gosht is cooked in a clay pot below ground level. This round-based clay pot is called Kunna in Punjabi. A specialty of Chiniot, a small city in the province of Punjab, Kunna Gosht is authentically cooked with very few masalas, but since the 80s, when the popularity of this ethnic cuisine spread to other parts of Pakistan, the dish now hosts a variety of masalas. Kunna is also more commonly referred to as Mutka Gosht.

The more distinct element of Kunna is its unique aroma, owing to the method of cooking it. The pot in which this mutton curry is cooked in brings out an earthy scent and texture, different from all other curries.

The slow cooking method of this Chinioti specialty is similar to that of Nihari and in my experience, cooking it on low heat is essential for the melt-in-the-mouth texture of the meat. Since Kunna is a purely mutton dish, the ideal cut for it is the hindquarter (goat leg meat).

Kunna Gosht is authentically cooked with very few masalas.
Kunna Gosht is authentically cooked with very few masalas.

Historically, Kunna is cooked for four to six hours, and is most delectable when cooked with goat meat, though now with the commercialisation of the dish, chicken and beef Kunna has also become popular. In my personal opinion, I found both chicken and beef Kunna to be lacking in texture.

The method to cook Kunna has survived and remains somewhat similar to the early days. At the time, the lid of the clay kunna (large rounded earthen pot) was sealed shut with a clay lid to maintain maximum steam. It was actually cooked below ground level to maintain utmost heat at a low simmering temperature.

The meat was braised and then left to simmer in the aromatic essence of onions, oil, chilies and ginger garlic. Gently, the meat soaked the flavour of the ingredients as they infused the heartiness of the meat and began to melt; almost like one was seducing the other to create the magic of Kunna.

The more distinct element of Kunna is its unique aroma.
The more distinct element of Kunna is its unique aroma.

Since Kunna is not a curry that is cooked frequently in most households (unless it’s a Chinioti household) like Korma and Alloo Gosht, its authentic recipe was not easy to find. Ironically, I turned to a recipe book given to me as wedding gift to find it.

Here it is, from my kitchen to yours.

Ingredients 1

2 lbs goat meat, preferably leg meat cut medium-sized
½ to ¾ cup oil
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. chillie powder
½ to 1 tsp. crushed red chillie
2 large onions, sliced
Salt to taste

Ingredients 2 (for freshly ground garam masala)

½ tsp. peppercorns
1 tsp. coriander seeds
2 to 3 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
¼ to ½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. ground mace
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¾ tsp. black cumin
1 tsp. white cumin

Kunna Gosht is authentically cooked with very few masalas.
Kunna Gosht is authentically cooked with very few masalas.
Ingredients 3

½ cup milk
3 tbsp. flour

Method

Heat the oil, adding the list of ingredients 1 to it.

Braise the meat on high heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly. Now add 4-5 cups of water (eyeballing the amount of curry required) and let the meat simmer for 3-4 hours.

Once the meat is tender, grind the list of ingredients 2 to a fine powder and add to the cooking curry. Add a little water if required.

Cooking Kunna on low heat is essential for the melt-in-the-mouth texture of the meat.
Cooking Kunna on low heat is essential for the melt-in-the-mouth texture of the meat.

Stir well and finally add the list of ingredients 3 (dissolve the flour in milk and add to the curry), stirring all along.

Let the curry cook on a low flame for another 1 ½-2 hours, until the meat falls off the bone.

Garnish with chopped cilantro, green chillie and lemon wedges. Serve with hot naan.

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