Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mutton Nihari

Mutton(goat meat) Nihari

The name Nihari comes from the Arabic word 'Nahar', meaning day. 'Nihari' is eaten just after the morning namaaz(prayer). It is a hot and spicy meat stew. Any meat can be used to make nihari, chicken/goat/lamb, but beef shanks are said to be the best choice. Traditionally it is cooked overnight in a large vessel sealed with dough. Don't worry I did not cook it overnight, but of course through the whole morning. It was my Friday-special dinner.
People are not sure where this dish originated. Some says it originated in Old Delhi,India during last days of Mughal era. And according to some it is an Awadhi cuisine, and it  originated in the kitchen of the Nawabs of Awadh.
Be it Mughlai or Awadhi, it tastes excellent either ways. The meat slow cooked with all the spices in the meat broth makes it soft and flavorful. Nihari is best paired with nan or chapati or fulkas, I had mine with nan. No I didn't make those nan, I bought a pack of nan from Whole foods.

I also added few baby potatoes to my nihari. I know the 'authentic' food-seeker may raise a big question, but the bong inside me couldn't help.
I was thinking about making Nihari for a long time, but somehow it did not happen. Last week, while I was searching for a different goat meat recipe, I came across  a video by Chef Gulzar from Pakistan. He was making nihari specially for Ramadan. He explained the whole process in a very simple way. And I made up my mind.

Things you need to make Mutton Nihari:

  • Goat meat: 500gm
  • Green papaya (grated): 3tbsp
  • Ginger Paste:1tbsp
  • Garlic Paste:1tbsp
  • Onion (sliced): 2cups
  • Meat broth:500ml
  • Atta/wheat flour:1tbsp
  • Ghee: 2tbsp
  • Oil: 2tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Baby potatoes(optional):4
For the Nihari Masala:

  • Dry red chili: 10-12
  • Dry kashmiri red chili: 14-15
  • Fennel seeds:2tbsp
  • Shah jeera/black cumin:2tbsp
  • Cumin seeds:4tbsp
  • Black pepper:2tbsp
  • Moti ellaichi/black cardamom:1tbsp
  • Jaiphal/Nutmeg:2
  • Star anise:4
Dry roast all these above mentioned spices, let them cool then grind to powder. Store this masala in an air tight container. It can be stored for months. For 1 kilo(2lb) of meat you need 2tbsp of this masala. I was cooking 500gm meat so I used 1tbsp, good I'm at mathematics...

The steps of making Mutton Nihari:

1. Use the leg part and ribs of the goat to make nihari. Take few pieces with fat, that will give a nice glaze to the dish. And use large pieces of meat. Clean and wash the pieces and marinate with grated papaya for 1 hr. I also squeezed  the grated papaya to extract the juice. If you do not have green papaya at home, use meat tenderizer, those are readily available in any grocery store.

2. In a heavy bottom pan add ghee and oil. I used ghee and oil in equal proportion, if you like you can only use ghee. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onion. Separate the onion slices before adding them to the oil. Fry the onion till they start changing color to red.

3. Add the mutton pieces and cook on high heat for 10min. Stir continuously. The meat pieces will be nicely brown. this way the meat will get the flavor of onion. Reduce the heat and add ginger-garlic paste. Cook for 5-7min on medium heat.

4. Add 1tbsp of Nihari masala and salt. Mix well. Cook for 5-6min on medium flame.

5. Add the meat broth and let it boil. For the meat broth either use any store bought meat broth or just boil some bones of the meat and small pieces of meat with little salt, bay leaf, a clove of garlic, and whole garam masala(cinnamon, cardamom, cloves) for an hour. Strain the broth and preserve the liquid.
6.As it boils reduce the heat to low, cover the pan. Keep cooking on the low flame till the meat is done. Mine took round about 5hrs. When the meat is done add roasted wheat flour. This will thicken the gravy. I added few baby potatoes also. I peeled and washed the potatoes, fry them and added to the gravy when the meat was almost done.
Serve with nan or roti, Fry some onion slices to brown and spirnkle that onion and the oil over the nihari. Yes I sprinkled some fried onions but no oil. I kept aside some fried onion while making the Nihari.
Nihari served along with some nan


  1. Replies
    1. I tried this recipe on sunday and it came out superb and delicious, thanks for the recipe and waiting for mutton rezala recipe plss.

      lv sunita

    2. Thanks Sunita for your feedback.

  2. Mutton is an older sheep - not goat - so I am interested to see that this curry uses goat meat. Have you made it with Mutton before - it looks delicious.

    1. In India we call goat meat mutton. And yes I have cooked this dish several time with goat meat, as that's the only red meat I eat.

  3. can i use curd instead of papaya to tenderize the meat?? is it necessary to add papaya to mutton?

    1. Rituparna, you use any other meat tenderizer, like yogurt, baking soda or store bought meat tenderizer. Using meat tenderizer reduces the cooking time.