4.1/5 rating (13 votes)

Mutton Nihari

Pakistani Mutton Curry

  • Heat Hot
  • Serves 6
  • Prep 20 mins
  • Cook 4 hrs
Mutton Nihari

An dark, intense dish made with lots of spices and cooked low and slow

Hari says

This is a classic Pakistani dish that is warm, hearty and really moorish. From being served at road side dhaba's in the streets of Karachi to some of the top restaurants many would say it's Pakistans National dish.

This dish should be cooked with meat on the bone, leg meat cut on the bone or shanks are perfect for this - if you can't get mutton then lamb or goat will also work you just need to reduce the cooking time to about 60 minutes for lamb. The name 'Nihari' comes from the Arabic word nahaar, or "day", which refers to the long, slow cooking that is needed to ensure the mutton is so soft and tender that is simply just falls away from the bone. The slow cooking also allows the flavour of the marrow to melt into the masala. This penetrates and thicken the sauce making it an all together unbelievably delicious dish. The sauce has an amazing depth and is perfect to mop up with naan.

Admittedly, this recipe is not for the faint hearted as it has a strong peppery kick. Don't let the list of spices scare you - once you have made the Nihari spice blend the cooking bit is actually really easy. 

  • Ingredients
  • Method

Nihari Spice Mix

  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 large black cardamom
  • 1 large cassia bark
  • 10 green cardamom
  • 2 star anise
  • 1½ tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 pieces of mace
  • ½ tsp of nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp poppy seed paste
  • 15 cloves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn (you can increase this to 2 tbsp)

To Cook

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 7cm fresh ginger, grated finely
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ tbsp Kashimri red chilli powder
  • 1-2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2kg mutton on the bone, chopped into 5-6 pieces or 4 large lamb shanks,
  • 1 tbsp plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp atta, sifted
  • water

To serve

  • bunch of coriander leaves, chopped 
  • 5cm piece of ginger, julienned
  • 4 green chilli’s, chopped finely
  • 1 onion, sliced & fried (fry about 10 medium onions until medium brown and drain) 

I used a few drops of saffron fragranced oil to finish this dish off.


  1. Blend all the spices for the Nihari masala to a fine powder in a spice grinder and set to one side.
  2. Heat the ghee on medium heat and fry the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds before adding the bay leaves.
  3. Add the meat and fry until the meat is sealed and coloured.
  4. Sprinkle in the Kashmiri chilli powder, salt, turmeric and ginger powder and stir to coat the meat.
  5. Sprinkle in 3-4 tbsp of the Nihari masala and fry until the masala is fragrant.
  6. Ensure the meat is coated then reduce the heat and put the lid on the pan. Leave to cook for 30-40 minutes.
  7. If needed add enough water to just submerge the meat.
  8. Remove a cup of the cooking liquid and add the sifted flour and Atta, mix with a fork and pour it back into the saucepan. Cook on a the lowest heat for 2-4 hours, until the meat falls away from the bones.
  9. Half hour before serving slice an onion and fry in ghee until it's brown sprinkle in a teaspoon of the Nihari masala and set to one side.
  10. To serve sprinkle in one teaspoon of the Nihari masala spice mix and stir though. Top with coriander and the finely julienned ginger, chopped green chillies and fried onions.

This goes well with

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