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. The key to the recipe is to cook mutton on a very low flame for up to 4 hours. That brings out the best flavours. Traditionally Nihari is 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.
The first time I ate nalli nihari was after my marriage, when I was exploring the world of non-vegetarian cuisine. As legends go, it is one of the dishes that has converted many vegetarians. I was not surprised and I could see how Sikander and daddy could finish the whole 1/2 kg mutton nihari in just one meal. That meant I had to learn how to make nihari.
I asked a few of my Pakistani friends for their nihari recipe. They often make it with both goat meat (mutton, gosht) and chicken. In this recipe I used Shaan nihari spice mix. But back in India, we make our own nihari masala at home from scratch. Since most of the spices used to make nihari masala are aromatic whole spices, the masala is best when prepared fresh but of course it is not convenient to make it every time. You can make it large quantities and store in an airtight container. It keeps well for up to 6 months.
Mutton Nihari / Nalli Nihari Recipe
Preparation time: |Cooking time: |Serves: 6-8
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
1 bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon stick
8-10 black peppercorns
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 inch ginger, cut into this strips
few fresh coriander leaves
Juice of 1 lime
- 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.
- To make your own Nihari masala from scratch, dry roast all the whole spices for the masala and grind them to a fine powder.
Approximate Nutrition Information for one (out of 6)serving of Nalli Nihari:
Calories: 556.6 calories | Fat: 38.7 g| Protein: 43.5 g
Have you cooked this nihari recipe? 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!
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