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Passport & Plate - Junglee Maas (Wild Meat)

India | Thursday, 13 March 2014 | 4 photos

Meat, cut into small pieces (I use goat meat) - 1 kg
Whole Dry Red Chillies – 15-20 pieces
Ghee (Clarified Butter)- 150 gms
Salt – to taste
Curd / Yogurt (optional – if you want more texture or gravy)


How to prepare this recipe
Tip 1: This recipe needs to be slow cooked for hours. I usually put it in a big pot which I then keep on a large plate / pan so that the pot is never directly on the fire.

Tip 2: Use Kashmiri chillies instead of other varieties. It has a strong colour and taste with half the spice/heat level.

Wash the meat well. Mix in all ingredients above and slow cook over indirect heat for at least 1.5 hours or until meat is tender. Stir occasionally so the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom.

If the meat starts to burn or dry out, add a little beaten yogurt.

Like a Pro:
If you follow the recipe until now, you’ve got a lipsmackingly delicious dish. Now follow the next few steps to turn it into a masterpiece.

Heat a piece of charcoal until red. Put it into a small bowl of ghee and immediately put into pot of cooked meat and cover. Let the smoky aroma infuse with the food. Uncover after 5 minutes and discard the bowl with the ghee and coal. Voila, you’ve just reached epic levels in your culinary pursuit.

Note – In the attached pictures, I have used yogurt to give some added texture.


The story behind this recipe
Imagine you’re stranded in a jungle. Your atavistic instincts take over, and you manage to hunt some game and start a fire. That’s all you have for a meal – meat and a fire. It sounds stark, more of a necessity than a gourmet experience.

Believe it or not, that’s the basic premise for the tastiest dish I’ve ever eaten – Junglee Maas. Okay, so the actual recipe also calls for salt, clarified butter and dry red chillies. But that’s it!

I first read about Junglee Maas, or ‘Wild Meat,’ in a book called ‘Cooking for the Maharajas.’
Here’s the folklore – In the past, when kings went hunting, the Royal Chefs who went along were expected to improvise and cook the day’s hunt. From there was born Junglee Maas – meat, ghee (the Western terms of clarified butter doesn’t quite convey its full-bodied nutty, heady flavour), salt and dry red chillies. Slow-cooked for hours to tender perfection.

Anyway, my father, who I rate as one of the best cooks in the world, was intrigued enough to try it. See, as typical Indians who loved our spices, we just couldn’t fathom how something this basic could be ‘fit for the kings’

The first time this was cooked in our kitchen, all we could think was:
“It just looks like raw meat bubbling in its own juices!”
“What kind of meat dish doesn’t have any spices?”

Happily for us, all our fears were proved wrong. Nothing had quite prepared us for that first bite of melt–in-the-mouth-meat with the subtle but lingering bite of chillies. I had never realized just how flavourful whole red chillies could be.

Since then, ‘Junglee Maas’ has become a regular fixture in our home. It was one of the recipes I took along with me when I got married.

In fact, it stars in one of my happiest ‘the families meet’ stories. My parents and in-laws had all gone for a picnic in the wild. There, out on the grass, my father built a makeshift stove, put on it a huge pan, some meat, ghee and chillies, and left it to simmer. The rest, as they say, was culinary history.

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