Ramadan Beyond Biryani: Bengaluru's Lesser-Known Dakhni Phaal
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Bengaluru is known for its rich and diverse food culture. While it is renowned for iconic dishes such as masala dosa, filter coffee, and an assortment of biryanis and kebabs, the city also offers a treasure trove of lesser-known delicacies like the hare phaal and sukkhi phaal that are deeply rooted in Dakhni cuisine and are regularly relished as comfort staples in Muslim households in Bengaluru.

We may be familiar with the Lucknowi, Awadhi, and Mughalai cuisines, where delicacies like biryani, barrah kebab, korma, and more draw inspiration from the flourishing Nawabs and Nizams' kitchens across the country in Lucknow, Kolkata, etc. The Dakhni cuisine or the ciusine of Deccan, is not limited to Hyderabad alone but extends to Karnataka and Bengaluru, especially during or after the fall of the Sultanate. It is believed that Dakhni cuisine comprises an array of delicacies that go beyond biryani, kebabas and korma. These delicacies are known to be far more simple in appearance and wholesome to taste, while some dishes also include laborious processes to make them. Among those, have you ever tried the hare phaal or the kalimirch mutton sukki phaal of Bengaluru?

What Are Hare Phaal And Sukkhi Phaal?

When you explore the city and delve further into the bylanes of Shivajinagar or Mosque Road in Frazer town and look beyond the biryanis and kebabs on the menu, you might find the hare mutton phaal or buff phaal, which is the comfort dish of most Muslim households in Bengaluru. While the traditional recipe handed down from generations remains in the confines of these households, many eateries, restaurants and homecooks have it on their menus, which might have missed the much-deserved attention.

Hare phaal is a dish where meat is slow-cooked in a mild and flavourful coriander gravy. It can be prepared with any meat of your choice, like chicken, mutton, lamb, beef, buff and veal. The vegetarian version of this gravy is made with potatoes. And no, none of Bengaluru's popular phaal is the same as the British version of fiery red hot curry, which is also popularly called phaal. This coriander-based dish pairs beautifully with ghee rice more than flat bread, as the mild flavours of the coriander, green chillies and meat gravy blend well with the fragrant ghee rice or simply steamed rice on any afternoon for lunch, as it is frequently consumed.

This is one favourite dish in Bengaluru that anyone would set foot in the middle of the night to find a market and purchase coriander and green chillies, which are the essential ingredients to prepare this dish. Also, while it is common for people to eat something different when they are eating out in comparison to what is prepared at home, they may overlook this dish on a restaurant menu and give it a miss as it is prepared frequently in households. But the same may not be true for Bengaluru people who developed a taste for the dish and moved away from the city only to crave it upon their return. Karen Ahmed, a food blogger in Canada, claims that mutton phaal is her husband's favourite dish at any given time, as he is from Bengaluru.

If you visit the bylanes of Shivajinagar in the evenings, you will find many places whipping up veal, seekh and many kinds of kebabs. And if you take a closer look at these eateries, stalls and small restaurant establishments, you will see meat on a big tava frying away and filling the air with the spiced meaty aromas that are most likely to draw you towards a plateful of sukkhi mutton, beef or buff phaal that may be served with a dash of green chutney and slivers of onions.

 Mutton, chicken or buff sukkhi phaal, on the other hand, is a dry dish that pairs well as a starter or a side dish to the main course. It is a popular meaty snack enjoyed during Ramadan's iftars, especially when the streets of Koramangala, Mosque Road, Shivajinagar, and more turn into food streets that serve patthar ke phaal, where buff or mutton meat is cooked on hot stones on coals instead of a cast iron tava. Sukkhi mutton and buff phaal are seved with seviyan or spring hoppers as an ideal combination during Ramadan. Although most of these dishes are made in Muslim households, some restaurants have decided to showcase an array of Dakhni delicacies on their menu whose recipes have been passed on for many generations.

Restaurants like Taj Hotel in Shivajinagar or the many outlets of Shrief Bhai have been trying to revive lesser-known Dakhni dishes like mutton and buff phaal, gosht ke kofte, shaadi ke biryani, which uses only three spices like cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, shami kebab and more, which have the influence of the sultanate but flavours that are innate to Bengaluru and worth a try once, at least if you are a meat lover, or when you are visiting the city. 

Hare Mutton Phaal Recipe

Here is a simple mutton hare phaal recipe to try and savour hot with ghee rice, preferable for lunch.


2 large onions, sliced

4 teaspoons of ginger and garlic paste

3 cups coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped

4 green chillies

1 kg lamb or mutton, cubed

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 tablespoon cumin powder

Salt, to taste

Water, as needed

Juice of 1 lemon


Heat oil in a pan and fry the sliced onions until caramelised. This will take about 5–7 minutes.

While the onions are caramelising, grind together peppercorns, ginger and garlic paste, and coriander leaves with a little water to form a smooth paste.

Once the onions are caramelised, add a portion of the coriander mixture to help grind the onions into a fine paste. Continue grinding until smooth.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the green chillies for a minute. Then add turmeric powder, garam masala, and cumin powder. Stir well to combine.

Add the ground coriander mixture to the pan and fry along with the spices for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the cubed lamb or mutton to the pan and mix well with the spices. Cook for a few minutes until the meat is well coated.

Pour in enough water to cover the meat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 1–1.5 hours or until the meat is tender. If using a pressure cooker, cook for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Once the meat is cooked, check for seasoning and adjust the salt if necessary. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and stir well.

Serve hot with rice or naan bread. Enjoy your delicious homemade phaal curry!