Aunty Ivy's Tirunelveli Mutton Curry

Deepa David   |   December 1, 2017 

The first time I tried this mutton curry I felt so warm and cozy inside. My cousin-brother's wife had come to visit me in Dallas when I was sick and she made this amazing curry to cheer me up. Well, it did the trick! She confessed that it wasn't her own recipe, but that it belonged to her Ivy Athai (aunty). So thank you Amu Akka (older sister) for letting us in on your family recipe.

This mutton curry has the perfect balance of spice and texture. It has this authentic South Indian taste. Goes really well with idli, Kal Dosai (the thick dosa and not the crispy ones you get at Saravana Bhavan) or just plain hot, steamed rice. The good thing about this versatile recipe is that spice and texture can be adjusted according to your liking and you can substitute chicken for mutton. I have tried it with both types of meat and the curry tastes just as amazing, either way.

The recipe that I am listing below is for 1 Kg of mutton and the spices are adjusted to meet my family's taste requirements.



For the meat

  • 1 kg mutton
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 fistful dry desiccated coconut (if fresh ground coconut is available even better)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • Sufficient water to cover the meat while cooking
  • Salt to taste

For the masala powder

  • 1 tsp whole black pepper
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 1 tsp sonf (fennel)
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 fistful raw rice or 2 heaped tsp

For finishing

  • 2-3 tsp sesame seed oil or vegetable oil
  • Few mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • Few curry leaves


  1. Wash the meat with salt and turmeric.
  2. Pressure cook the mutton with the ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, turmeric power, coconut, onions, water and salt for 20 minutes. If you are making this recipe for chicken then do not pressure cook the meat, just cook it with all this in an open Kadai or pan till the meat is fully cooked.
  3. Dry roast the whole spices - pepper, coriander seeds, jeera and sonf. Dry roast the raw rice too. Grind it to a fine powder in a food processor or mixie. If you like your curry to have some texture then don't grind it to a fine powder. Pulse it to your required texture. Set this aside.
  4. In a large Kadai, add some oil. Splutter the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Make sure you add very little fenugreek seeds otherwise the curry might taste slightly bitter. Sauté the curry leaves as well.
  5. To this add the boiled, fully cooked mutton or chicken.
  6. As the curry boils add the masala powder that you have ground a little at a time. Once you are satisfied with the spice level you can stop adding the masala powder.* Let it boil for 2-3 minutes after this and turn off the stove.  If you want it extra spicy you can sauté two or three green chilies and add it at the end.



*I have tried different spice levels depending on the guests I cook it for. The raw rice powder and coconut offset the spiciness and most often I add the entire masala mix that I have prepared.

I hope you enjoy making this authentic curry. Go ahead floor your guests!

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Deepa David

Deepa David skillfully juggles her various roles as a wife and mother of three kids. Her biggest role is to support her husband in ministry, bringing stability into a demanding ministry environment. She has a heart for underprivileged women and has served with commercial sex workers and women in situations of exploitation and abuse. She is also theologically trained with an MA in Christianity from SAIACS. She is joyful all the time and never tires of hosting people in her home.
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