Lamb / Mutton Rezala | A Creamy, Nutty Mughlai Recipe

Whether you use lamb or mutton, this creamy, nutty rezala recipe takes all the best bits of Mughlai cuisine, including cashews, fragrant spices and subtle sweetness, and throws in a whole load of butter and a rare punch of chilli. It really is everything a curry should be and more!

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Lamb or mutton, this beautiful rezala recipe goes perfectly with a bit of homemade naan!


Mughlai cuisine has held a great number of my favourite recipes for a long, long time. It’s certainly no secret on this site that while I adore curries from all over the world, the Persian influenced Mughal dishes are the ones I favour most of all.

The first Mughal dish that really caught my eye was the much maligned Chicken Korma. For which you’ll find my own recipe right here. The Korma is perhaps known best as a Friday night takeaway classic. And has in fact overtaken the Chicken Tikka Masala as the most commonly ordered Indian takeaway dish in the UK.

Unfortunately, however, the dish we often receive when we order a Korma is not perhaps the dish we might receive if we were to order something along those lines in India. Or even in a more authentic Indian restaurant. Instead we receive a super sweet incarnation of the dish. Still tasty, but often relegated to the too sweet and creamy category by fans of what they deem to be a real curry.


Cue the Pasanda. Not only has the version we often have here been oversweetened in much the same way as the Korma we know and … accept. But it is also frequently stuffed with a surprising amount of usually unwelcome fruits. A shame, given that the real dish is an absolute triumph of wonderful, sweet flavours balanced by thoughtful spicing, salt and yogurt. Once again, you’ll find my own recipe for a Chicken Pasanda right here. Try it. I promise it will change your perspective on one of the most bastardised dishes in the country!

And on the subject of bastardised, fruit filled curries, we have the Kashmiri, as it is so frequently called on takeaway menus. A strange, sad dish stuffed full of banana, sultanas and other unusual things. I won’t even say the dish doesn’t have a place in the world. But I will say that when the real thing is more akin to an exceptional Rogan Josh than to the strange fruit casserole we are accustomed to. Once again, to try out my very own Kashmiri Rogan Josh recipe, you know what to do!

Another beautiful Mughlai recipe with all kinds of creamy, buttery goodness!

About the dish

So, where do we go next in the Mughlai food world? There are plenty of dishes left to come. But today, we will be learning about the lamb (or mutton) Rezala.

This dish is a really cool dish. I just want to put that out there. Whether it’s made with lamb or with mutton, or even with chicken, the dish dares to do something very few other curries do. It throws a bunch of chillies into what would otherwise be a very creamy, nutty dish and it just dares you to complain. Which you absolutely won’t.

The sauce is made with cashews and poppy seeds, a fairly uncommon combination in Indian food. This, to me, is the first suggestion that something rather unique is going on. And along with good old fashioned, fragrant Mughal spices, they create a soft, easy-going dish that is perfectly tasty even without the addition of the chillies.

But they really do make a very welcome addition.

After all, who said creamy curries can’t be spicy? I do think chilli pairs up very nicely with the sweet acidity of a tomato based sauce. But I absolutely don’t think it can’t be incorporated into a milder, creamier sauce as well. In fact, as this lamb / mutton Rezala goes to show, it can not only work very well, but it can mean a type of dish we would otherwise not get to experience.

The chillies in this lamb / mutton rezala really set it apart from most Mughlai recipes.

About this dish

My version of the lamb / mutton Rezala is all about the ingredients I’ve already gotten very excited about. It’s about the cashews, the poppy seeds, the chillies and the cream.

And it is cream we’re going to use in this dish. You absolutely can use yogurt. In fact, I believe it far more common to do so. But for the sake of ease when cooking, cream allows us a little bit of extra braising time and doesn’t threaten to split in the way yogurt can when exposed to heat for long periods of time.


The other thing that makes my version of the dish is a good dollop or two of ghee. First in which to cook, as is so frequently the case. but second as a garnish. Ghee is often used as a garnish in Indian restaurants. But it isn’t something I always necessarily advocate myself.

Ghee can be a delicious addition to a curry, but it is also very unhealthy. In this instance, however, it proves a very worthwhile addition. That butteriness has such a welcome place in Mughlai cuisine. It brings all the flavours to the forefront and the richness helps to give body to an already substantial dish.

It takes something special and makes it extra special. And that surely can’t be a bad thing?

A quick guide – Lamb / Mutton Rezala – Mughlai Recipe

Mise en place for the Lamb / Mutton Rezala.


First, we’re going to soak our cashew nuts and poppy seeds in our stock for an hour or two. This will help to soften them. Which means they’ll blend into the sauce better when we do so later on.

Next, we’re going to chop our onion. I tend to dice it, but thin slices will be just fine. We’re going to blend this curry anyway, so it isn’t a necessary step like it might be in other dishes.

We’ll also make a paste from garlic and ginger, which we’ll set aside. Just as we’ll do with a few chillies, to be added a little later in the cook.

We will make a spice mix from, unsurprisingly, our spices! To do so, we will first toast our whole spices in a dry pan and then grind them up with all the others. Aside from a cinnamon stick, which we will add at the same time, but will leave whole.

At this stage, if needs be, you may also want to make some ghee. If you want to do this yourself, all you have to do is melt butter on a low heat and then separate the clear liquid from the solids on top and at the bottom. The clear liquid is the bit you keep.

At this stage, we’re going to cut our meat into appropriately sized pieces and strain the stock from the cashews and poppy seeds. As long as they’ve been in there long enough to soften sufficiently.

Leave a little bit of that stock in with the cashews and poppy seeds, then blend or grind them into a paste.



Next up, we’ll caramelise the onions, cook the spices and finally the aromatic paste we made earlier. We’ll also sear the outside of the meat to get a little colour, texture and extra flavour.

The next step is to add our stock and a bay leaf and simmer the dish for about an hour and a half, allowing the meat to break down and soften. Helping it to become the wonderful, melt-in-the-mouth thing we know it can become.

Naturally, you also want to make sure the stock has reduced enough that when you add the remaining ingredients, it won’t become overwhelmingly soupy. You want quite a thick sauce with this dish, so take your time.

Then, we’ll add the cashew & poppy paste and mix it into the sauce. So you really want it broken down as much as possible. We’ll also add the chillies at this stage, to allow that flavour to penetrate the sauce. Give them a little bash or two first to make sure the flavour soaks in properly.

Reduce the sauce all the way down to the consistency you’d like, then add a little cream and reduce again. Keep stirring the bottom of the pan or you can end up with sticking and burning.

Finally, we’ll adjust the seasoning, both salt and sugar, and we’ll plate the dish. We’ll garnish with ghee and with more cashews. Then we’ll eat.

Cashews and poppy seeds make this particular Muglai recipe what it is.
Cashews and poppy seeds make this particular Muglai recipe what it is.

A few final things to remember

  • I recommend ghee, because it’s the traditional approach frequently used in Mughlai and indeed Indian recipes on the whole. But if you would prefer to just use butter, it’s not going to do a great deal of harm. Just add a little oil to the mix as well to help boost the butter’s resilience to heat. This way you won’t burn anything.
  • You can tweak the amount of chillies to suit your taste. I have used four small, medium strength chillies because it highlights the dish with spice, rather than overwhelming. When I last cooked it, however, I had four all to myself, because sometimes that’s the most fun way to eat! It’s up to you.
  • You could even strip out the chillies entirely and have a perfectly wonderful alternative to curries like the Korma or Pasanda. A unique dish in its own right that has depth, subtlety and nuttiness.
  • Similarly, when you put together your spice mix, feel free to tweak and change them as you like. These spices are pretty traditional in Mughlai recipes, but tradition isn’t the only important thing about food. Ultimately, it’s about flavour, and you should cook what you like to eat.

Similar Recipes & Useful Sides

The Best Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe – An unexpected favourite, a childhood favourite in its grown up form. Rich, deep and incredible.

Passanda Sauce Recipe – An Authentic Leftover Chicken Curry – The sexiest, creamiest, butteriest, chickeniest curry I’ve ever made and an absolute personal favourite.

Goan Lamb Curry – Another of Goa’s beautiful curries. This time a delicious vindaloo style lamb dish!

The Best Indian Flatbread Recipe – The best Indian flatbreads you’ve ever seen. Seriously.

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Lamb / Mutton Rezala Recipe

Lamb / Mutton Rezala | A Creamy, Nutty Mughlai Recipe

Lamb or mutton, this creamy rezala recipe takes the best bits of Mughlai cuisine and mixes them with a generous helping of chilli and butter.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2


Main Ingredients

  • 400 g Lamb or Mutton Shoulder
  • 350 ml Chicken Stock
  • 75 g Ghee or Butter
  • 200 ml Single Cream
  • 4 small Green Chillies
  • 1 lrg White Onion
  • 1/2 cup Cashew Nuts
  • 2 tsp Poppy Seeds

Spices & Paste

  • 1 – 2 inches Fresh Ginger
  • 3 – 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 5 Cloves
  • 5 Cardammom Pods
  • 1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

Seasoning & Garnish

  • 1 tbsp Cashews
  • Salt
  • Caster Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Ghee



  • Soak the poppy seeds and cashew nuts in stock for at least an hour or two. Set aside just a few cashew nuts to use as a garnish later on.
  • If needs be, make your ghee by melting butter on a low temperature and removing any solids that appear. Or you can skip this step and use either oil or a mix of oil and butter.
  • Bash the chillies a little and set them aside. You don’t want to damage them too much, but bruise the outer layer a little.
  • Peel and finely dice or simply slice the onion.
  • Peel the garlic and ginger and roughly chop them, then grind them into a paste in a pestle and mortar. Set them aside and wipe out the pestle and mortar.
  • Toast the coriander seeds, cloves and cardammmom pods in a hot pan with no oil, for just long enough that you can smell the aroma lifting from the pan.
  • Grind those spices up in a pestle and mortar and mix them with the black pepper and the garam masala.
  • Strain the stock from the poppy seeds and cashew nuts and set it aside.
  • Blend those cashews and poppy seeds with some cream until thoroughly combined. Add the rest of the cream and blend again, then set aside.


  • Dice up the meat into suitably sized pieces and season with salt, then add to a pan on high heat with a little ghee or oil and sear all over, then set aside and allow the pan to cool.
  • Top up the ghee or oil if necessary and then caramelise the onions on a low – medium heat for roughly 8 minutes, until they soften and begin to turn translucent.
  • Add the spices and increase the heat a little, cooking them through for a minute or two, but keeping them moving around the pan so they don’t burn.
  • Add the ginger and garlic paste and do the same again, stirring it into the onions and spices and cooking it through for just a minute or so.
  • Add a little bit of stock and move everything to a blender, combining thoroughly, then add the rest of the stock and mix.
  • Transfer everything back to the pan, re-adding the meat and adding a bay leaf.
  • Reduce everything down gradually on a low-medium heat until the meat is tender and the stock has reduced substantially.
  • Add the cashew & poppy cream and once again reduce everything down until you have a thick, wonderful sauce that clings to the meat.
  • Remove the bay leaf and the cinnamon stick and season the dish with salt and caster sugar. As much as you feel it requires.
  • Plate up and garnish with a little more ghee and a few cashew nuts.
Keyword Curry, Lamb, Lamb Curry, lamb rezala, mughlai cuisine, mughlai curry, mughlai recipe, mutton, mutton curry, mutton rezala, rezala

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