Nalli Nihari | A Nawabi Mutton Curry

I’m not going to describe the meaning and history behind this gorgeously delicious and complex flavoured curry. You can easily find that on Google. What’s more important is the complex process of cooking it.

Mughal cuisine is usually a long and detailed cooking with lots of different spices and ingredients involved. This one’s no exception. But I’ve tried to break it down in simpler steps to make it easier for you all to understand and cook.

Nalli Nihari (a slow cooked mutton gravy from Mughals and Nawabs of Lucknow) is a three step process. First process is cooking the meat with onions, curd and basic spices. Second step is adding “Nihari Masala” and density to the dish. And final step is one last tempering with flavourful masala and ghee.

Most important part of recipe is Nihari Masala which we prepare fresh with whole spices. I recommend grinding in mortar pestle but you can save energy and time by grinding in a mixer grinder.

Grinding my Nihari Masala fresh in mortar pestle



  • Mutton (with bones): 1kg (cut in equal sized pieces)
  • Onions (sliced): 4-5big sized, approx 500gms
  • Curd: 200 gms
  • Salt: 2 tsp or as per taste
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric: 1tsp
  • Coriander powder: 2 tsp
  • Whole wheat flour: 2 tsp
  • Kewra water: 1 tsp
  • Rose water: 2 tsp
  • Ghee: 2 tsp for tempering
  • Oil (preferably mustard oil): 3 tbsp
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • Green cardamom: 2
  • Clove: 2
    • Whole Black pepper: 12-15
    • Clove: 5
    • Cinnamon: 1 inch
    • Galangal dried: 1 inch
    • Mace (javatri): 1
    • Caraway seeds ( shahi jeera): 1 tsp
    • Green cardamon: 4
    • Black cardmom: 1
    • All spices: 3-4
    • Dried rose petals: 2 tsp


  • In a thick bottomed large pan, heat mustard oil smoking hot. Once the sharp smell of mustard oil is gone, add bay leaf, green cardamom and clove. Add sliced onions and sautè for 2 mins.
  • Add mutton and let it cook with onions and whole spices.
  • While mutton is cooking, take the whole spices of Nihari Masala in a pan and try roast lightly. Let it cool and then grind it to fine powder. Sieve the masala and keep aside.
  • In a bowl, mix curd, salt, red chili powder, turmeric and coriander powder. Add this mixture to mutton once its half cooked.
  • Add water as required and cook covered till mutton is completely cooked and meat can fall off the bone easily.
  • In another bowl, add wheat flour, 2 tsp of Nihari Masala and make a thin paste using water. Add this in mutton gravy and bring to boil once.
  • In a separate pan, add 1 tsp of Nihari masala and 2 tsp ghee and heat. Once its heated well, add kewra and rose water and 1 tsp chili powder and add this temper to mutton gravy.
  • Take off the gravy and voila! It’s done!
  • Serve hot with naan, roti or rice.

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