Lamb Rista Recipe, A Kashmiri Wazwan Dish You Can Make At Home

Kashmiri cuisine is known for its bold and aromatic flavours that are influenced by the region's history and geography. The cuisine features a wide variety of meat-based dishes, including lamb, chicken, and goat, as well as vegetarian options like paneer and lentils. The use of spices is a hallmark of Kashmiri cuisine, with many dishes featuring a blend of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and saffron. The region's famous Kashmiri red chilli powder, also known as degi mirch, is a key ingredient in many dishes and gives the cuisine its signature fiery flavour and bright red colour. Along with its delicious food, Kashmiri cuisine is also famous for its traditional breads like naan and kulcha, as well as its rich desserts like phirni and shufta and of course, the ever popular Lamb Rista.

This delicious and flavorful dish is perfect for special occasions or whenever you want to treat yourself to a special meal. The rich and complex flavours of the spices are balanced by the tender, juicy lamb, making it a dish that is sure to impress. Kashmiri lamb rista is a spicy and aromatic lamb curry that is made with tender chunks of lamb in a rich, red gravy. The key to this dish is the use of Kashmiri red chilli powder, which gives the curry its signature bright red colour and deep, complex flavour.


Lamb Stock:

  • 1 kg lamb bones
  • 1.5 litres water

The Ristas (Meatballs):

  • 1 kg minced lamb (with at least 10% fat)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom seeds

For the Saffron and Mawal Water (or just saffron water):

  • 1 big pinch saffron
  • 2 heads mawal (cockscomb flower heads; omit if unavailable)
  • 125 ml freshly boiled water

The Rest of the Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder (or any mild chilli powder)
  • ½ tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, pounded or finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fried onion paste
  • 1.5 litres lamb stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, if needed


  • To make the Lamb stock, place the bones and water in a large saucepan or stockpot and bring to a low boil.
  • Skim off any scum as necessary.
  • Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, then strain and use in the recipe.
  • Place the mince into a large food processor, along with the salt and cardamom. Do this in batches if your food processor isn't big enough.
  • Process on medium for about 30 seconds, scrape down, then another 30 seconds.
  • Scrape down again, and repeat the process: 30 seconds, scrape down, another 30 seconds. This should do it. At this point, you'll have a fairly homogeneous-looking lamb paste.
  • Form balls weighing about 40g (1.5 oz, rounded up) with the meat paste, wetting your hands often to prevent sticking. Set aside until needed. Can also be frozen raw. In the image, the middle ball is for rista.
  • If you've got mawal or cockscomb flowers, place the flower heads in a bowl and pour half a cup of boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 5 minutes. (Get your dry spices ready in the meantime). If you are not using mawal, go to the saffron step below.
  • After 5 minutes, drain using a very fine sieve.
  • Add the saffron to this red water (or just hot water, if not using mawal). Crumble the saffron threads as you add them. Leave aside until needed at the end of the recipe.
  • Let's cook the Rista:
  • Heat the ghee in a large saucepan or Dutch oven on medium-high heat and brown the meatballs. Do this in batches if you have to.
  • Lower the heat to medium, then add the cloves, green cardamoms, Kashmiri chilli powder, and turmeric and give it all a good stir, no more than 10 seconds as the spices will burn.
  • Add the garlic and fried onion paste and give it another quick stir. But be fairly gentle as you don't want to break the meatballs up.
  • Add the lamb stock, stir and bring to a boil. When it's come to a boil, lower the heat right down, cover, and cook for 1 hour.
  • At the end of the hour, add the saffron-mawal water, stir and bring back to a simmer. Leave it to simmer for 1 minute, and check to see if you need any salt.
  • Finish off with some freshly ground black pepper, turn the heat off and rest for 5 minutes before serving with rice or roti.