Nalli Nihari (Deepavali Recipe!)

Nalli Nihari

Nalli Nihari is a savoury Mutton Curry from Pakistan. Nalli simply means mutton, while Nihari is the name of this spice-rich curry. In order to make Nalli Nihari, you’ll have to use the Nihari masala powder. If you’d like to make the Nihari masala powder from scratch, check out the recipe for that below: 

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Nihari Masala Powder from scratch

6 Large Kashmiri Chillies

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp 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 or 1 pc mace

Preparing the masala is easy and straightforward; in fact, I daresay gathering the ingredients is more labour-intensive than making the masala! Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, dry roast them in a skillet or wok until you get a nice, warm scent wafting through the kitchen. Turn off the stove and allow the roasted whole spices to cool for a bit. 

Then, transfer the whole spices to a spice blender and whizz away! You’re after a homogenous, reddish-brown powder. 

Making the Nalli Nihari is the next step. I used an Indian pressure cooker to pre-cook my nalli, before making the curry. This is a slow-cooked lamb curry, where the meat should be tender and fall off the bone swiftly. The pressure cooker helps us get the lamb to this stage quite fast, so I would highly recommend using it. If you don’t have a pressure cooker at home, then you can boil the meat in enough water to cover it until it becomes tender and cooked through. Do not discard the water, though! You’ll need it to make the curry; this then becomes the stock. 

Nalli Nihari

You can choose to make this curry as wet or as dry as you like; you just have to adjust the amount of water accordingly. Using plain-flour slaked in water is a traditional way of thickening this gravy. I’ve proposed 2 tablespoons of it, but you can of course adjust according to your preference. 

Nalli Nihari (Deepavali Recipe!)

Recipe by Krishy MalCourse: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Nalli Nihari is a savoury Mutton Curry from Pakistan.

You’ll need;

  • To cook the mutton
  • 500g Mutton Ribs

  • Water

  • Salt to taste

  • For the Nihari
  • 2 Large Onions, sliced thinly

  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

  • 2 Tbsp Ghee

  • 3 + 2 Tsp Nalli Nihari Masala Powder

  • 1-inch ginger, peeled and cut into shards

  • 2 Tablespoons Plain Flour

  • 4 Tbsp Water

You’ll need to;

  • Cook the mutton in the water. First, place the mutton in your preferred saucepan; make sure it comes with a lid. Then, pour in enough water to cover the meat. Add salt to season, and give everything a stir. Turn on the heat and allow the mutton to cook through. If you’re using a pressure cooker, this will mean 6 to 8 whistles.
  • Once cooked, remove the mutton pieces and save the water. While the mutton cooks, fry the 2 sliced onions in the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. A non-stick skillet is best for this. You will need to fry the onions till they become soft and malleable, which is around 3 to 5 mins.
  • In a large skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add the cooked lamb pieces to this, together with 3 tablespoons of the Nihari Masala powder. Turn the lamb pieces around in the hot ghee. Then, add half the fried onions and all of the stock saved from cooking the mutton. Cover and simmer for 10 mins.
  • Then, remove the lid and stir the lamb through. Add the rest of the nihari masala and fried onions, stir the contents of the pan well. Then, cover again and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  • While this cooks, slake or dissolve the plain flour in the water and set aside.
  • Uncover the pan and add 2 tbsp of the dissolved plain flour mixture, and stir through. If you’d like your gravy thicker, then add more of the plain flour mixture. Add the ginger shards. Cook for a final 10 minutes, with the lid on.
  • Then, remove from heat and serve warm with rice.

Recipe Video


  • The Nihari Masala can be bought from Indian grocers. You want to look for ‘Shan’ brand masala; I find the flavour to be quite good and spicy, too.
  • If you find this gravy spicy, feel free to have it with some yoghurt!

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