Nalli Nihari

Nalli Nihari

Shireen Sequeira


For the Nihari masala powder

  • 3 Teaspoons  cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon  fennel seeds
  • long dried red chiles
  • black peppercorns
  • green cardamom pods
  • black cardamom pod
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  ginger powder
  • 1/2  bay leaf
  • blade mace
  • cloves
  •   One 1/2-inch stick cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon  poppy seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon  roasted Bengali lentils (chana dal)

For the stew

  • 3 Tablespoons  ghee (clarified butter)
  • medium-sized onions
  • 2 1/4 Pounds  lamb or goat leg meat
  •   Salt, to taste
  • 4 Cups  plus 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 Cups  lamb stock
  • 2 Tablespoons  whole-wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon  lime or lemon juice
  •   One 1-inch piece ginger, cut into thin strips, for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons  cilantro, chopped, for garnish

This whole dish was so melt-in-the-mouth and finger-licking good that we didn't need any side dish or accompaniment to the meal. I am also sure that we may have even overeaten if we didn't run out of parathas that day. By the way, this dish tastes just as fabulous with simple steamed rice. If you wish you can use ready made Nihari masala powder available in stores. However, I strongly believe that a freshly made blend will lend so much more aroma and flavor to your dish.

And please don't ask me if you can make this with chicken — it would be, in my opinion, sacrilege! 


For the Nihari masala powder

Toast all of the ingredients in a pan over low heat until fragrant. Let cool and grind it to a fine powder using a coffee grinder.

For the stew

In a large, heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee over medium heat and fry the onions until they are well browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To the same pan, add the lamb and fry over high heat along with half of the Nihari masala powder until the meat becomes nice and brown. Add half of the fried onions, season with salt, to taste, and add 4 cups of the water. Cook until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes.

Add the lamb stock, remaining Nihari masala, and fried onions. In a bowl, make a thick paste of wheat flour with the remaining water (make sure there are no lumps) and add this to the lamb. Continue to simmer until the gravy thickens. Then, add the lemon juice and garnish with the ginger strips and cilantro and serve hot. 

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