It is difficult to introduce a dish that has been around for years and years and years, comes with some challenges and has traditionally been cooked overnight on very low heat. It’s one that is either hated or loved and even those that enjoy the sticky fingers and the slurping of the naan or rice with the glutinous liquid will not endeavour to make it themselves but will order it at restaurants or eat in family clutches during special occasions or dinner parties.
The challenge is in buying the right type of paya (trotter), some shops sell them thoroughly cleaned with any hair on the paya singed (scorched) and hence removed. If this is not the case, you will have to clean and singe them over an open gas flame at home before you begin cooking.
Here at sabihaskitchen in London, I use a pressure cooker to cook payas, however you can choose to use a slow cooker if you posses one or cook in a pan at low heat overnight on the stove.
Cooking times will vary according to the payas you have sourced and is different for lamb, goat and beef so make sure to adjust.
Here goes payas Narowali style, this is the recipe used in most of our Sheikh households!
- 10 cleaned spring lamb payas
- 2 tbs crushed garlic
- 120g onions (2 small) sliced
- 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1.5 tsp red chillie powder
- 2 tbs crushed ginger
- 1.5 tbs dry coriander
- 1.5 tsp kashmiri chillies
- 5 tbs cooking oil
- 1.5 tbs garam masala
- 3 tbs fresh sliced coriander
- 3 green chillies cut into two
Wash the payas thoroughly in warm water and add to the pressure cooker, add the garlic, onions, salt and red chillies. Add 3 cups of water and close the pressure cooker
Pressure cook for 10 mins and switch off, do not open the pressure cooker at this stage as it can be dangerous. Cool and open.
Use a wooden spoon to mix well, dry off all remaining liquids, add the ginger, dry coriander, kashmiri chillies and oil, bhun (cook and stir from time to time) the payas on medium heat until they change colour from pale to dark (check colour difference in picture above). When mixture begins to stick to the bottom, add 3-4 tbs of water, and keep on bhuning until the payas darken in colour. It will take a while to get to this stage (20-30 mins), but persevere, if you rush this stage the end product will not taste right.
Once you achieve the darker shade, add enough water to immerse the payas fully, pressurize again for 15 mins, switch off, cool and open.
Take out one paya into a plate, cool then gently prod to see if it is cooked through and almost falling off the bone, if this is not the case, add 2 glasses of water and cook on low heat for a further 20 mins.
Once payas begin falling off the bones, add enough water to achieve a soupy consistency, bring to the boil, add the garam masala and stir in. Cook on a low heat for 5-7 minutes.
Switch off, cover with a lid and set aside for 5 mins so the oil rises to the top.
Use a ladle to dish out into a deep bowl, Garnish with fresh coriander and green chillies and serve with bread, naans or rice.