Mutton Rara … the name makes you think, doesn’t it? Why Ra-ra? Why not Ba-ba? Or Fa-fa? There’s definitely got to be a story behind it. And so the legend goes … The Chhota Nawab of Awadh, and the Rajkumari of Jaipur were madly in love with each other. They wished to be together but life had other plans. They had a clandestine love affair and their families found out. The princess was whisked away to a fortress surrounded by deep waters and guarded by an evil witch. The prince yearned for his ladylove, but was unable to get in. The witch was clever and unforgiving, but she had one weakness: mutton. The prince called down the finest bawarchis of his great empire for one task only: to create a mutton dish so delicious that it would render the witch powerless. And so the dish was prepared near the moat of the bewitched castle … Cooked slowly and patiently in whole spices – spices that had made Hindustan famous all over the world – black cardamom, green cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, whole black peppercorns, star anise, cumin seeds and Kashmiri red chillis. They cooked and they stirred and as the masalas roasted the deep sensuous aromas arose and wafted through to the fortress. The meat simmered and began to tenderize, and the witch could not control herself and magically transported the pot to her chamber. She loved the preparation so much, that she actually gave the Rajkumari away to the Chhota Nawab and blessed them with eternal happiness. The magnanimous prince named the magical preparation after the witch, whose name was Rara … hence Mutton Rara.

Or so I’d like to believe. But the truth is, it’s most probably a concoction some North Indian dhaba-wala created for customers trudging across the Grand Trunk Road. No princely love story! The dish, however, is royal and extravagant in every way. It is a double whammy of meat – chopped up mutton leg and minced mutton, and needs to be made with a lot of love and a little bit of effort.


  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole black cardamom
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 4-5 whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 7-8 dry whole red kashmiri chillis – deseeded, soaked in hot water and ground to a paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 250 gms Mutton mince
  • 500 gms leg of lamb cut into cubes (with bone n all)
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 3-4 tomatos finely chopped
  • 2 tbps thick curd
  • 1?2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp corriander powder
  • 1?2 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • corriander to garnish

Take a kadai with a heavy base, pour in the olive oil. As the oil begins to smoke, fry all the whole spices till fragrant, and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Sautee till soft and add in the mince, frying it well and continuously, till you can see each grain of the mince. Add the tomatoes and keep frying the mixture. You can very lightly beat the mutton pieces with a kitchen hammer if they are too big and the meat tough. Since a little mini kitchen makeover I did using kitchen ideas from My Hammer, I have all these wonderful new tools for tenderizing. Now add the mutton pieces as well as the remaining spices, and give it a good stir. Keep stirring till you see the tomatoes break in, absorb the spices, and start to form the gravy. Cover with a lid and let it simmer slowly for about 40 minutes, adding water when necessary. When the meat is tender and you begin to see the oil separating from the gravy, add the thick curd, stir, and turn off the heat after 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with Tandoori Rotis.

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Comment :

Now this is heaven!!!!


Well I’m all in favor of the live story! Sounds much better then the second explanation.. Lol. Love the dish !


I meant to say LOVE story instead of live ofcourse..:)

Wow…..that looks delectable……love the spices filled, aroma punch recipe…..perfect treat to eyes and taste buds….


Sara, thanks

Simone .. 🙂 love story always wins hands down !

Lubna … thank you

LOL I like that story! I like mutton as much, does that mean I have traits of the witch ? 😉 This is lovely I don’t think I ever had this even though the spices and preparation is quite similar to how we make mutton

LOL I like that story! I like mutton as much, does that mean I have traits of the witch ? 😉 This is lovely I don\’t think I ever had this even though the spices and preparation is quite similar to how we make mutton


Haha … maybe there is a dark side to you that you are unaware of … maybe you can ride on a broom ! lol

That is a gorgeous meal! What flavors. So comforting and enjoyable. That mutton rara goes perfectly well with those rotis. Yummy!



When there’s a princess’s love story behind a dish then it is even more interesting.
I love these kind of dishes and I love all the spices in it!

Hi Kajal, Loved every bit of the post, right from story of witch RARA to ur list of ingredients and the final dish. Everything is looking absolutely delightful. Can you also share the recipe of good looking tandoori rotis…??? The recipe is so nicely made and presented. Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

You know, I haven’t ever, ever cooked mutton – but this looks delish!

And my hubby is a mutton fan… I am totally bookmarking this!


This looks wonderful!! And I love the story behind it! I’d love to make this, but I’m not sure about the thick curd. Do you buy it or make it yourself?

ra ra , fa fa, prince princess dabha, at this moment I care for nothing but this mutton curry. I wld actually love to sit out dhaba style and eat this with roti and lemon and onion on the side! can’t get better than this.

Oh how romantic, what a pretty story.
Love the end result, nice recipe.
Thanks for sharing.

Kate, I love this and all the beautiful spices in the dish. It’s been a while since I prepared an Indian dinner and you have inspired me to relive my love of Indian food. Thanks!

What that list of spices that must be so fragrant and delicious.

This sounds incredible! I can just smell it cooking.

This looks absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to give it a try!


congratulations on your newspaper column , kajal !

This is one of the first food blogs I’d started following, and just realized that I haven’t checked back in months!! Awesome to be back on your blog and read this tantalizing recipe of mutton rara…though I like your romantic version of the story way better than the roadside wala reality! Awesome to see the blogging going strong, and congrats on the news column too!


Kate, so I gave this a shot today. Except I used beef because I couldn’t find mutton in the market. It was fabulous. First recipe that I’ve tried from your collection and it was a huge success. We miss you and send our love. Thank You!
Also, I love the story.


Nata, I’m so happy to know you tried this recipe. Woo hoo ! Beef is equally tasty, and I hope you’ve taken pictures of it 🙂 We miss you too … I had no clue you left, until Santosh mentioned you had. I wish I could’ve met Ishan, Jeff n you, before you went. Hope you guys come visit soon. Miss you loads.

Surinder Anand

Neither of the two stories is correct. The answer is quite mundane. Rara comes from the word Rar meaning ‘bhunna’ or stir fried with all the spices while gradualy adding

Both stories are incorrect. Answer is rather mundane. Rara means fried on low heat so that all the ingredients become one with the meat and the flavours seep into the meat. The verb is Rar and it is a Punjabi word.


Hello Surinder ,
Appreciate you telling me what the real meaning of Ra-Ra is … if you read carefully, mine was a little tale I made up, it wasn’t real, was just having some fun with it.


Rahra is the punjabi word for “over saute” or over fried/roasted to enhance the taste. Hence the name.

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