Warm, earthy and spice filled Mutton Nihari is a luxurious Mutton stew for the meat lovers! As the meat cooks, the gravy turns buttery with a gorgeous deep red hue. Top the curry with some fried onions, julienne ginger, green chili and finely chopped cilantro. This dish can be a showstopper at any party.
I had learned about Mutton Nihari from an Indian cooking show. In the promo of the show, the chef was cooking Mutton Nihari. And even though it showed only a few glimpses, it was enough to inspire me.
Since then, I have made this dish countless number of times!
What is Mutton Nihari
Mutton Nihari is a traditional Muslim dish that came from the Royal Kitchen of Mughal.
Over the period of time, the dish migrated to different regions, which each making several little twists of their own.
Nihari comes from the Arabic word “nahar” which means “morning”. In the Mughal days, this dish was prepared overnight. Slow cooked for several hours and then served for breakfast to the Nawabs.
Can you imagine eating something this rich for breakfast! Those Nawabs surely had some lavish appetite.
Kosha Mangsho has always been my favorite mutton stew, and this Mutton Nihari gives a very close competition to my favorite.
It’s extremely unique in terms of the steps that go in preparing the stew and the garnish. These steps cannot be ignored, as they are essential to the dish.
Ingredients you need
Mutton Pieces - We prepare the dish using goat meat, keeping it a mix of bone and boneless meat. If you don't like mutton, you can definitely try the same dish with chicken.
Spices - We use a lot of earthy spices in this dish. We roast the spices and then ground to make the Nirahi spice mix.
Onion - We like to use red onion for this dish. Apart from adding while making the curry, we also fry some sliced red onion to add in the curry as a garnish.
Garlic, Ginger and Green Chili paste - Like most curries, freshly blend garlic, ginger paste along with green chili adds a lot of flavor.
Flour - We prepare a roux of flour and water to add at the end that thickens the consistency of the gravy. If you are gluten-free, just avoid this step at the end, as the curry tastes amazing even without thickening the texture of the gravy.
Steps to prepare
This mutton stew is a labor of love. So, try not to rush, and you have to slow cook it in old fashion way. Use a heavy bottom pan!
1- Start by making the fresh spice mix by dry roasting the whole spices for a few minutes. And then let it cool down, before you ground it to powder.
2- In a heavy bottom pan, heat mustard oil and then scatter the sliced onion along with ginger, garlic and chili paste. Season with salt and cook the onion, until it softens.
3- Add the mutton pieces and stir it around. Season with salt and cook for a few minutes to sear the meat.
4- Add the Nihari spice powder and continue cooking until you see the oil separating, which mean the spices are cooked.
5- After cooking the meat with the spices for about 10 minutes, you will realize that there is no raw flavor of the spices.
6- Add water and bring it to boil. Then lower the heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook for 1 and ½ hour. Do check in between and stir occasionally.
7 - Once the meat is cooked through, switch off the gas, cover the pan and leave it aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Don't move the pan during this time. This step is crucial as you want the oil to float on top.
8 - In the meantime, fry the sliced onion that you will add while serving the dish.
9- Once the mutton has cooled down, and you see the oil float on top, carefully scoop out some of the oil to add as a garnish while serving the dish.
10- Make a roux by mixing flour and water.
11- Pour the roux on the curry, place it back on heat and simmer for a while. The gravy will thicken. Check for salt and add more if needed.
12- Serve the meat, by garnishing with sliced ginger, green chili, cilantro leaves, the oil that was scooped earlier, and fried onion.
Few Key Points!
- Once the mutton is cooked, you have to let it rest and cool down completely. This step will create a thick layer of oil on top. You have to carefully scoop and leave aside to be used later.
- The spice mix that goes in the dish is the key to making the dish so earthy and aromatic. There are a few variations of the spice mix. I just picked every kind of whole aromatic spices that I love using in any rich meat curry.
- The fried onion and julienne ginger at the end can be skipped, but I would recommend you to definitely use it. The fried onion adds a mild sweetness that balances out with the spices that go in. The ginger bites just add to the warmth at the back of your tongue.
- In several recipes that I read, Ghee is used to prepare the Nihari. I used mustard oil because that’s what I saw Chef Ranveer using. Also, when I cook mutton in Bengali style, I always go with the mustard oil. So, it just felt right. But, you could surely use ghee instead of mustard oil.
There are a lot of history and traditions around this dish. Also, cooking a good mutton curry does take some extra time and effort. But at the end, when the aroma starts to warm your kitchen, you will realize it was all worth it!
Mutton Nihari | Spiced Goat Stew
- 1.5 lb. mutton bone-in cubes
- 2 mdium size, red onion (roughly 7 oz each)
- 1½ tablespoon Freshly grated ginger and garlic
- 2 Green chili, finely chopped or grated with garlic and ginger
- 3 tablespoons mustard oil
- vegetable oil to fry the sliced onion
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1- teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1- inch fresh ginger (Finely julienned, added as garnish)
- 2 Green chili (Sliced, added as garnish)
- 1 tablespoon wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons water
for the Nihari Spice mix
- 3 dry red Kashmiri chili (this only adds the rich red hue without making the dish hot)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon bark
- 7 green cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 black cardamom
- ½ teaspoon clove
- Prepare the spice mix first. Place a pan on medium high heat and sauté the whole spices for about 20 seconds. Let it cool down for a while before grinding it into fine powder. Keep it aside to be used later.
- Place a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and pour the mustard oil. Once the oil heats up, drop ¾th of the sliced onion (save the rest for garnish). Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt and stir. Cook the onion for 2 minutes and then, add the grated ginger garlic (not the julienned ginger) and sauté for another 3 minutes.
- Scatter the mutton cubes, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the ground spice (prepared earlier) and toss it around to mix everything. Sprinkle the turmeric, ½ teaspoon of salt and sugar. Toss around and mix everything.
- Cook the meat in medium heat for about 10 minutes. The spices should be cooked through by then, and you should see oil separating. Pour 4 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir around and bring the water to a boil at high heat. Then, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and let it simmer for 1 and ½ hours.
- While the mutton simmers and gets tender, prepare the fried onion. Place a pan with enough oil to deep fry the sliced onion. It will take about 10 minutes for the onion to turn golden brown. Make sure you pay close attention to the onion and keep stirring occasionally as it get can turn from brown to black pretty fast. Once done, take it off using a slotted spoon into a plate layered with kitchen towel. Keep it aside to be used later for garnish.
- To the same oil, drop the julienned ginger for a few seconds and take it off into a separate plate layered with kitchen towel.
- After 1 and ½ hours, the meat should be cooked through and tender. If not, continue cooking the meat. Once the meat is cooked through, switch off the heat, uncover the pan and let it cool down completely. Do not stir as the stew cools down because this process will create a layer of oil on top. It should take about 10 minutes to cool down completely.
- Once you see the red hue layer on top, take a spoon and carefully scoop it out into a different bowl. Then, turn on the heat and bring the meat to simmer again.
- In a bowl, prepare the roux by mixing the flour with water until there are no lumps. Pour this mixture in the stew, little by little, and keep stirring as you do so. Mix around the roux and let the stew simmer for another 10 minutes. This process will thicken the gravy.
- At this stage, check for salt and add any, if needed. Finally, add half the chopped green chili and cook for 2 minutes.
- For serving, ladle the stew into your serving bowl, drizzle the fat that was kept aside, followed by fried onion, julienned ginger, green chili and some finely chopped cilantro.
- Serve it warm with your choice of rice or bread.