Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Nalli Nihari

Nalli Nihari

I had been itching to make Nihari ever since I had it at a food stall during Ramadan. The crazy Bawi in me wanted to make this from scratch and did not want to use ready Nihari masala and so began a series of trial and error sessions until I finally got the spice mix right. I hail from a family that used to manufacture masala blends. I knew from experience it was only a matter of time before I got the spice mix perfect. Anu, heaved a sigh of relief when I finally said the recipe was spot on because every time I said, ‘No! This is not perfect’, it meant I was going to make Nihari again and subject them to the same food. Ahh well, if they get to eat the yummy stuff I get right at first shot then they have to endure the experiments too, until I get the dish perfect. It’s only fair. ;-)


1¼ kg leg of lamb, cut into big pieces
1½ cup onion, sliced
7 tablespoons Nihari Masala (recipe - below)
2 teaspoons garlic paste
3 teaspoons ginger paste
3 tablespoons wheat flour
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (optional - only if you prefer a spicier Nihari)
a large handful coriander leaves
200 grams clarified butter/ghee
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons green chilies, diagonally cut for garnish


  1. Heat clarified butter in a large vessel.
  2. Add onions and fry till golden brown.
  3. Add the mutton pieces, fry till the water evaporates and the mutton begins to turn a shade darker in color.

  4. Add ginger paste, garlic paste and sauté on medium heat till fragrant.
  5. Add the Nihari masala, Kashmiri chili powder (if using - i did) and sauté. Add a wee bit of water and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring intermittently.

  6. When the water dries up add 2½ cups of water, cover and cook on medium low heat till mutton is tender and the gravy is thick and the added clarified butter is separated. This may take an hour to an hour and a half. (Gently stir the mutton, intermittently, just to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the vessel. Do not stir it too often as you need the clarified butter (tarri) to float on top when the mutton is cooked)
  7. Dissolve wheat flour in 150 mils water and keep aside.
  8. When the mutton is cooked, remove the excess red-spicy clarified butter (tarri) from the top of the gravy in a bowl and keep aside.
  9. Give the wheat flour mixture a stir and add to the cooked meat. Stir.
  10. Add 2 cups water to the gravy and allow it to simmer on low heat for ten minutes.
  11. Add the red-spicy clarified butter (tarri) that you had previously removed in a bowl. Mix and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  12. Turn off the heat and garnish the Nihari with chopped coriander and green chilies. Serve with bread naan or steamed rice.

Nihari Masala:

3 dry red Reshampati chilies
4-5 dry red Kashmiri chilies
½ tablespoon cloves
2 green cardamoms
1 small-sized black cardamom
7-9 black peppercorns
½ bay leaf
¼ blade mace
2 teaspoons dry ginger powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
¾ tablespoon poppy seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
1¼ tablespoons fennel seeds
1¼ tablespoons cumin seeds
1½ tablespoon chickpea / chana dal


  1. Dry roast all the Nihari Masala ingredients, individually, till fragrant. Do not roast the powdered ingredients.
  2. Cool the roasted ingredients and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Add the ready-powdered ingredients to the freshly ground spice mix and give it one more whiz in the grinder to blend well.
  4. Sieve the powder and use. 
Chef Notes:

  1. You may cook the Nihari in a pressure cooker if you are hard pressed for time, but nothing compares to slow simmered Nihari when it comes to flavor and texture of mutton falling off the bone when you dig your fork through it.
  2. I always prefer making Nihari from the leg of the lamb because scooping out the marrow from the bone is like cherry on the cake. We Bawas always have marrow spoons in our cutlery drawer which comes to use for such dishes. My mum, forever the spoiled brat of the house, is always allowed to flick the bones for the marrow, resultantly this brat gets none.
  3. If you make Nihari often, feel free to double the quantity of the Nihari masala and store it in an air-tight container. It keeps for 2 weeks.
  4. Nihari is a rich dish as quite a bit of clarified butter is used for it but if you are the health conscious type you may lessen the quantity of clarified butter. Also, I have known people to use oil instead of clarified butter but you won’t catch me deviating from the original version. I truly feel some dishes are scared in terms of originality and aren’t to be tampered with. I’d much rather eat Nihari (clarified butter et al) and walk an extra two kilometers the next day. But of course, only my very near and dear ones know that that’s something I won’t really do because I’m a lazy bum. ;-)
  5. If Reshampati chilies aren’t available feel free to increase the amount of dry red Kashmiri chilies to adjust the spice level.
  6. You may share the direct blog-link of the recipe/s but do NOT publish my recipes and my photographs on any blog-site or website without my explicit consent or attempt to pass off my recipe/s as your own. You will be held accountable for plagiarism.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! If you try the recipe please do let me know. I'd love to hear feedback from you :-)

  2. Replies
    1. Awww, thank you ever so much, Sonal! I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe and the write-up. :-)

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you ever so much, Virgin! If you try the recipe please do let me know if the recipe worked for you. I'd love to hear feedback from you. :-)

  4. Sure,,, definitely!!! Will let u know Kainaaz!