Nihari is a deliciously smooth flour based stew with slow cooked mutton and a myriad of spices. This mutton nihari recipe takes ~4 hours to cook but it’s easy to put together. To get the best flavour, the mutton is cooked on very low heat for upto 4 hours.
Traditionally Nihari was cooked all night and then served to the Mughal Kings of Delhi in breakfast after the morning prayers.
From the royal kitchens of the Mughals, the dish has now crossed all borders of region, religion, and course. However, since it takes a long time, almost 5 hour, to cook Nihari, it is mostly reserved for special occasions like Eid dinners and other festivities.
The first time I had nalli nihari was after my marriage when I was exploring the world of non-vegetarian cuisine. I was told it was one of the dishes that has converted many vegetarians. I loved the nihari stew and I could see how between Sikander and daddy the whole 1/2 kg mutton nihari was finished in just one meal. That meant I had to learn how to make nihari.
Which meat is best for Nihari?
In India, nihari is mostly made with mutton or gosht which is goat meat. The shank portion is what is preferred for making Nihari. Nihari can also be made with chicken, lamb, or beef.
I had asked my Pakistani neighbor and she said that both mutton and beef nihari are common preparations in Pakistan.
Just like garam masala, Nihari masala is a mix of whole aromatic spices. The whole spices like cardamom, fennel, cloves, nutmeg, dry ginger etc are roasted and then ground to a powder. The masala mix is best when prepared fresh but you can make it larger quantities and store in an airtight container. The homemade nihari masala keeps well for up to 6 months and can be used for cooking other vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries as well.
Check out my glossary of Indian spices for a list of spices and their names in both Hindi and English.
If you like this recipe, please take a moment to rate it and/or leave your comments at the end of the blog. It will really encourage me to keep exploring, learning and improving. Imagine the chefs in ancient Mughal cuisine who would cook it overnight! Do you know more about the traditions of mutton nihari? I would love to know!
Mutton Nihari | Nalli Nihari Masala Recipe
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 1 kg mutton , preferably shank portion (cut into 8-10 pieces)
- 4 tbsp Ghee/ Clarified butter
- 2 medium onions , finely sliced
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tbsp wheat flour
- 3 tbsp nihari masala
WHOLE SPICES TO MAKE YOUR OWN NIHARI MASALA FROM SCRATCH
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp soonth dry ginger
- 5-6 green cardamoms
- 2 black cardamoms
- 4-5 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 8-10 black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 inch ginger , cut into this strips
- 4-5 stalks fresh coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp lime juice
To make Nihari Masala
- To make your own Nihari masala from scratch, dry roast all the whole spices for the masala; cool; and grind them to a fine powder.
To make Nihari curry
- Heat Ghee (you can use oil as well but ghee makes it tastier) in a deep bottom stock pot. Once the ghee is hot, add the sliced onions and fry till they start to turn brown.
- Add mutton pieces, ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well to coat the mutton in ghee and spices. Sauté for 5 mins.
- Add the nihari masala and 8 cups of water. Mix well, cover and cook on very low heat for about 4 hours until the meat is tender. Keep checking in between. The way to know that the meat is cooked is when it breaks easily with a wooden spoon.
- Dissolve wheat flour in half cup of water such that there are no lumps. Slowly add it to the gravy. Stir to mix it well in the gravy and let it simmer for another 10-15 mins till the gravy thickens.
- Sprinkle some lime juice and garnish with ginger strips and fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot.
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Would love to start a conversation, share recipes, cooking experiences and food stories from India and around the world.
Will try the recipe
Why didn’t you add red chilli powder to the nihari? Please recheck your recipe. And only 4 tbsp ghee for 1 kg meat? Your measurements are pretty off.
Doesn’t seem like an authentic recipe.
Nice photos by the way!!!
Dear Mrs Malik,
Thank you so much for your response. I am so happy you liked the photos and I am glad you asked about the chilli and fat..
1) I actually did not use red chilly powder.. The spices in the homemade Nihari Masala add in the heat, so I omitted the red chilly powder. I am actually in the process of completely removing the red chilly powder from my kitchen and use only fresh chillies if required.
2) Red meat release a lot of its own fat, so this recipe didn’t need more ghee than that. In the end (as can be seen in the photo) there was a lot of fat in the dish.
nice recipe will try it soon! what is so bad with red chilly powder?
Red chilli powder is very easily adulterated with impurities. I have now starting grinding my own red chilli pepper for use in some recipes so I am sure of its purity. But then also, it’s a personal preference to use fresh chillies over ground spice.
Yes! I also tried this recipe. It was awesome and I was famous in my home town. I was really happy!
Thank you soo much, ashima
That is so amazing to hear Sadaf! I am glad the recipe was helpful! All your comments encourage me to keep trying new things and sharing!
Bhaiyya ji without red chili and fat we can’t think about nihari but I appreciate ur formula
Thanks for your appreciation 🙂
Well, I use other spices like kali mirch and garam masala spices to get the heat. The reason I avoid red chili powder is because of food adulteration is specifically high in red chili powder. Now I have started to grind my own red chili powder at home.
This recipe is very popular amongst my family and also amongst many readers.
Very good Answer
Do not judge anyone before knowing the fact of taste. I already tried this recipe and its far more gorgeous in taste.
Thanks, Syeda! 🙂
Fantastic and easy recipe. I did add red chilli powder out of habit, turned out delicious. Thank you!!
tried today for husbands friend get together party lets see how they like it
awesome! 🙂 Do share your feedback once the party is over and you have rested! Good Luck.
THE BEST! I made it yesterday and the entire family really enjoyed it.
Lovely to know that!! 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing the recipe. Will try it in my instantpot. Would you alter anything for cooking chicken instead?
will change the cooking time for sure. Chicken cooks much faster than mutton..
Hope you try this recipe soon!
recipes is good but there i think do not used wheat flour
we use wheat flour to give the gravy a thick texture. Would love to know your recipe too.
This was the awesome recipe I was searching on internet from last 2 days for best recipe finally I think this one is nice surely gonna try and gonna try more recipes from here thanks author for sharing.
I am so glad you finally found the recipe 🙂 It really is a nice one! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.. it keeps encouraging me to improve!
Its really good.. I tried and my family liked it too..
Thanks Swathi! 🙂
I would like to cook nihari as per your recepie.Just want to know if I can cook this in oven and if so at what temperature and for how long
Please reply ASAP
Sorry I have never cooked Nihari in oven, so won’t be able to help you on that. 🙁
Hi Sheela, I always slow cook in the oven and it’s turns out gorgeous with minimum supervision. I follow all stovetop instructions till the meat is sealed and water added, then I put on a tight fitted lid and put into a preheated oven at 150-160 degrees C for 2.5 hours. Add the wheat water mixture and back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Or you can do the last boil on the gas top again 5-10 minutes.
Btw, Ashima, agree about the chilli powder, but my family like it hotter, so I add chopped fresh chillis on the top with ginger.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Nish!! 🙂
Dear Ashima, the measurement of masalas were perfect. I am new to kitchen and when I cooked Mutton Nihari as per your instructions, it came out really well..yes I added little chilli powder and ghee for flavour and colour. Well it depends on individual choice of taste.Thank you for posting the recipe.
I think the beauty fo Indian and Pakistani cooking is its adaptability to taste. No measurement is like a solid line and you can easily adjust the spices to your taste!
I am so glad you found the recipe helpful!
G’day from Australia!
This recipe is fantastic! I added some Kashmiri chilli powder about 1hr before the beef shanks were finished. I also used high quality bakers flour and it was delicious!
Would you recommend eating it with rice or any naan/bread?
A happy day to you from Bucharest!
I am glad you liked the recipe. Thank you so much for your feedback.
You can eat it with either rice or other Indian flatbreads.
Can u give me how u make your own red chili powder do u use kashmiri chillies will. Appreciate it.
Yes, I do use Kashmiri red chilies. And to make my own red chili powder, I simply remove the tops of dried chilies and grind them in my spice grinder. Please be extra careful to protect your hands and face (especially eyes) when doing so!
Hope that helps!
Pramod Kumar Varshney
For authentic taste of Nihari Kulche, try Raheems Kulche & Nihari of Lucknow Chowk area. He is the best and very popular in Lucknow. This is a famous awadhi cusine and was as old as the time of Wazid Ali Shah, the famous Nawab of Lucknow.
Thanks for sharing the local eats of Lucknow!
Hi. Ashima super nice nihari recipe.
I’m glad you liked the recipe.
Why did you use Tumeric in Nihari?
I add turmeric in most of my curries as it is a great immunity builder and a little bit of it doesn’t change the taste of the dish. In Indian cuisine, we normally add it in almost all savory dishes.
The recipe was amazing. I’m very fond of authentic Mughlai Recipes and I love to eat and cook as well. I reside in Delhi so the benefit of it is you get to taste many authentic recipes in old Delhi which I usually do but yesterday I tried to cook it and took reference from your Recipe and it turned out to be same like which I eat in old Delhi! so thank you so much for sharing the recipe. 🙂
I am so glad you tried the recipe and made a Nihari just like you love 🙂 While Nihari is a heavy dish, home-made Nihari is definitely better than restaurant ones! Though I also love to splurge on old Delhi food once in a while 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
I just had nihari at kareems last week and i tried to make it today by this receipe, just green chilli in the end and it was fu****g same as i had in kareems………..
Isn’t it best when you get the taste you crave homemade! 🙂
This recipe looks really great! I am hoping to try it this weekend. Can I just clarify one thing please? The ingredients that you listed for making the masala from scratch – is that the equivalent of the 3 tbsp you mention we should use for this recipe that serves 6 people? Or is that masala recipe enough for future use and so those measurements are for a huge quantity? I hope my message makes sense!!!!!
The measurements for the spice mix will make you just about 3 tbsp of the spice mix for use in this recipe. You can increase the quantities to make more and keep for later.
I am sorry for the late response… but I hope I’m not too late since you mention you are going to try it this weekend. 🙂
Do let me know how it goes!
lots of love,
Je vais essayé de refaire la recette part contre qu’elle partied bœuf faut prendre piur le faire ?? Et quel est la partie du mouton que vous appelez tige ?
Sa a l’air vraiment bon des que je l’aurais fait je vous enverrais un message et une photo
Bonjour! sorry for the delay in response. I have been traveling a lot and the first time I saw your comment, I realized I had to use the translator to understand it so postponed responding to it and then it completely slipped out of my mind. Shank is the portion of meat right above the knee and below the leg.
We’re both now vegetarians so I don’t make nihari anymore but this recipe has been in the family for a long time and makes a delicious Nihari curry. I am actually thinking of making a vegetarian Nihari and sharing soon 🙂
Would love to know your experience with the recipe.
Tried it today with beef. I added a little tomatoe as I love tomatoe.
Thanks, George! 🙂
I live in Hong Kong and saw this dish featured on Street Foods on Netflix. The foodie I am decided to try it and I came across your recipe. My partner is returning from two weeks in the UK and Ireland and I plan to make this as a surprise dinner. Thanks for sharing and all the comments. I will comment again after making and feasting.
I am so happy this recipe is helpful to you and especially in your surprise! Happy homecoming to your partner 🙂
Hi ..My daughter and my husband are hard core fans of Karim’s Nihari so i m definitely going to try your recipe .. pls tell do we have to ground cardamoms with shells or do we have to peel them off .. Thanks
Sorry for the late response. We’ve recently relocated and I’m getting used to my new place. You can use green cardamoms with skin or without. I use them with the skin because it will all be grounded together to make the spice mix.
Perfect recipe I also did not use chilli powder in this dish as I feel this would take away the gentle spice given from the other spices, I did however use a little more black pepper as I do like a spicy curry, but this did not take away any of the other aromatics in the dish only complemented them, also this time I used beef, simply delicious.
I am glad you liked the aromatic spices in this curry. It is a very versatile combination and can be used with many vegetables too!
Just realised this is your blog, pretty awesome to see this as like the first hit for Nihari search…some SEO hacking!!
Haha! Thanka, Saumitra 🙂
If only I knew some of it! I am just lucky in this recipe!
Just finished cooking this recipe, exactly as indicated down to toasting spices and simmering the requisite 4 hrs. Was curious as to how the food in that part of the world tastes.
No longer. This is incredibly vile slop. Sorry to have totally wasted 1 kg fresh lamb on this nonsense.
Thank you for taking the time to further share your experience and I am very sorry to read that you had to throw away the food. Truly a waste of resources that could have been used to feed and nourish otherwise. I am extremely regretful that you had such an experience especially with this recipe that truly requires a lot of patience and time and effort and knowing that you put in all and still didn’t like it at all.
I have now become a total vegetarian but during my short span of 2 years when I was trying out non-vegetarian food, this was one of the dishes that I really enjoyed! I had loved the smooth gravy and the aromatic spices even though I wasn’t much of a meat-eater. Please do eat a Nalli Nihari at a good Pakistani restaurant. I do hope that one recipe doesn’t bias you towards the whole cuisine and particularly Nihari if you love to explore different cuisines.
Your recipe looks wonderful. I am surely gonna try it. Will let u know how it goes but by looking into the comments I am pretty sure it will be nice. Thank you for sharing the detailed recipe. GBU
Thanks, Imran! I shall be waiting for your comment when you’ve made the recipe! Happy cooking 🙂
I would like to appreciate you for your efforts . this is a wonderful recipe., turns out great everytime. All the spices can be adjusted according to taste.
Your feedback really encourages me to continue trying and sharing different recipes. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Can Nihari be made with this recipient in a slow cooker. As a slow cooker tends to produce a lot of liquid I suppose adding less water than suggested would work fine.
I don’t see a reason why it could not 🙂 I have not used a slow cooker so I wouldn’t know about water proportions but the ideal would start with less and then add if required. Let me know it goes!
I tried your recipe, it’s really good. I used instant pot for this. After few hours I realized that the color is not right, then it occurred to me that your recipe doesn’t have any chilli powder ( I had not seen the comments at this point), so I added some kashmiri chilli powder because I am not used to the heat of regular chilli powder and Kashmiri chilli gives nice color without adding too much heat. So that did the trick, and it’s perfect! Thank you! I am saving this for future. Since this is not spicy unlike the recipe my Pakistani friend used to make, this is perfect brunch food :-).
I am happy the recipe was helpful for you! Thank you for sharing your experience, it really encourages me to continue exploring and sharing!
Wow I really appreciate the way to you wrote the details and measurements coz for a starter like me it was very helpful.. keep going…. ur doing a great job !!!
I am so glad the recipe was helpful to you! Your words give me the encouragement to continue exploring and sharing recipes to support happier cooking!
Wish you a wonderful New Year!
Hi Ashima, i am wondering, can i use pre-boiled mutton instead of fresh ones? Thanks
Never tried it with pre-boiled mutton but I guess you should be able to. It will reduce the cooking time significantly! I no longer cook or eat non-vegetarian so can’t try and tell you but my sense it is should work.
Sorry not very helpful :0
Hey, thanks for the recipe. I have one question- do I add the entire nihari masala to the meat or a bit of it?
Sorry for such a delayed response. Have been busy in a personal engagement and not very active on the blog. For this recipe with 1 kg mutton, yes, use the entire Nihari masala quantity that the recipe says. You can make more Nihari masala and keep it to use later and/or use with other curries.
Yash Ajay Srivastava
Do I need any special stove like goithaa or can I. Cook this on any normal gas stove.
A normal gas stove will work perfect!
Loved it the first time around. Second time tried with instapot with only 1.5 cup water and that too simmered to evaporate. Didn’t use flour. Both versions were delicious. Thanks.
Thanks Akash! 🙂 glad to know you could make it in instapot too!
i tied a shortcut,
Marinated meat and bones as in recipe, skipped fresh onions and added store brought fried onions before cooking in a pressure cooker with a little kashmiri chilli powder. Came out awesome in 30 mins on low heat after first whistle
That’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing. I am sure others will also find it helpful.
When you grind your spices, do you use all the husks from the green cardamoms, or just the seeds inside?
I use all the husks from green cardamoms. Just open them a little before roasting.