Friday, March 8, 2013

Lamb curry in nihari masala (Nalli Nihari)

Tonight's Menu
Nalli nihari
Onion relish
Garden salad
Wine Pairing: Shiraz / Chardonnay

This lamb preparation is a melt in the mouth lamb stew cooked in an explosion of spices. It is hot and spicy and hits the spot right away. At first when I saw this recipe, I was amazed at the colour and gravy thickness without the use of tomato or yogurt as is customary in curries. Flour mixture does the thickening and the colour is totally the nihari masala (large quantity of red chillies and other spices) and fried lamb and onions. If the spice level doesn't bother you then I suggest you use the higher amount as suggested in the recipe (I sure did). Serve with naan or rice.

The roots of nalli nihari lie in the kitchens of Muslim Nawabs both in Awadh and Hydrabad. According to Wikipedia, it shares the position of national dish of Pakistan along with Biryani.

Nalli Nihari

2 lbs Lamb
3-5 tbsp nihari masala (see recipe below)
2 large red onions sliced fine
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 inch chunk ginger (half julienne, rest grated)
4-5 cloves garlic
salt to taste
1 tbsp Lime juice
Fresh coriander finely chopped
Canola oil as needed
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Keep aside. 
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a deep pan, add garlic add lamb or mutton pieces and sauté on medium heat till slightly browned. Add nihari masala and crushed ginger and continue to sauté for two minutes. 
  3. Add half the fried onions and mix. Add two cups of water and salt and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook till the lamb is completely cooked. I usually pressure cook till lamb is cooked. 
  4. Mix whole wheat flour in half a cup of water well so that there are no lumps. Add the remaining fried onions to the cooked lamb along with wheat flour mixture, lime juice and mix well. 
  5. Cook on medium heat making sure the gravy doesn't burn. Cook till the gravy thickens to the desired consistency. Add ginger strips and cook till the lamb begins to leave the bones. Serve hot garnished with ginger strips and fresh coriander. 
  6. Serve with plain naan or rice. 

Nihari Masala

5 dry red chillies
2 tbsp black cumin seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 cardamom black
3 green cardamoms
1 star anise
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 one inch cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp dry ginger powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
  1. Dry roast all the spices and dry grind to form a coarse powder. 
  2. Store in an airtight container. 
  3. Can be used to make any curry preparation.

Adapted from Khana Khazana recipes

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