Growing up in a one-room house that was dotted with similar rooms was tough. He never imagined he would reach the heights of success and owes it all to his working mother. She used to act in dramas and movies to ensure that her son got the best education.
Though they had very simple food at home, whenever Bhanuprakash visited his ammooma (grandmother) in a village called Ananthavaram near Vijayawada, he got to eat all the Andhra delicacies. Being an Andhrite, his fondness for the Guntur chili, gongura and avakai are natural. His grndparents were into farming and hence his playground was the bountiful trees and plants. He tells me that there was a cattle shed adjoining the house — hence they used to have plenty of homemade yogurt, butter and ghee. Gobar gas and woodfire were the medium of cooking. Gutti vankaya kura curry, gongura mutton, mudda pappu, ulava charu, pesara punukulu, royyala yeppadu (prawns fry), gongura pachadi and boorelu are some of the dishes he recollects enjoying.
Bhanuprakash’s education led him to an engineering college and then to a college for acting. Living in Kodambakkam it was normal to have a boys gang — Bhanuprakash and his friends used to sit on the bench munching groundnuts. Once, as he was passing by some apartment, he heard the sound of bangles and looked up to see who was trying to get his attention. It was a pretty Iyengar girl. Her name was Sunanda, and she became his wife. Today, she cooks some of the best Andhra food for her family. Her winning recipe is thengai paal sadam. Bhanuprakash feels that cooking relaxes him and on certain days when nostalgia hits him, he rustles up a gongura mutton or mudda pappu.
Gongura mutton curry is a spicy curry with the distinctive taste of gongura or sorrel leaves. Gongura is known by many names across the country — in Marathi, it is called ambadi, in Tamil, it is called pulicha keerai and in Assamese, it is called tenga mora. Gongura or sorrel leaves have rich iron content and have a tangy flavour. Gongura is also a great immunity booster. Vegetarians can replace mutton with soya or paneer. Today, Bhanuprakash shares the recipe of gongura mutton curry.
Gongura Mutton Recipe
Lamb Meat: 1/2 kg cleaned and cut into pieces| Turmeric Power: 1/2 tsp| Salt: to taste| Garlic: 10 cloves| Ginger: 1/2 inch| Sesame Cooking Oil: 3 tbsp| Cloves: 4| Green Cardamoms: 4| Bay Leaves: 2| Cinnamon Stick: 1 large piece| Gongura Leaves: 200 gms| Onion: finely chopped| Green Chillies: 6 chopped fine| Curry Leaves: 1/2 cup full| Coriander and Mint Leaves: 1/2 cup
- Boil the muttion and ginger garlic with some salt in a pressure cooker
- Fish out the ginger garlic and make a paste of it and keep aside
- In a pan heat oil and add all the whole spices
- Once they start spluttering, add the ginger-garlic paste, green chillies, and onions
- Saute till it becomes pink in colour and then add gongura leaves, curry leaves and all the ground spices and salt
- Saute till the oil is separated from the mixture
- Now add the meat pieces and saute for five minutes so that they get well wrapped with the spices paste
- Then add water for curry and boil till it thickens
- Garnish with fresh curry leaves, coriander and mint leaves and serve gongura mutton with thengai paal sadam
Prep Time: 1 hour, Cooking Time: 1 hr 15 mins, Serves:4 pax, Calories: 320 per serve
Bhanuprakash's Kitchen Tips
- Ensure meat is fresh and tender
- Gongura also has to be fresh not bought and kept in the fridge for long
- Smoke onions and green chillies before chopping to give a great flavour
— Chef Ramaa Shanker is the author of Festive Offerings to the Gods: Divine Soul Recipes