Poultry & Meat/ Recipes

Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha

Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha / www.quichentell.com

A hearty Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha is a beautiful thing to grace your table on a cold winter day. I sought succour in this deliciously thick mutton (goat) and chana dal dish during a recent cold front. I made it as much for its taste as its ability to soothe the soul and evoke a sense of comfort and nourishment in inclement weather.

Quintessentially South Indian, the Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha is made with mutton-on-the-bone, masoor dal (red lentils) or chana dal (split Bengal gram) and sometimes vegetables like lauki or bottle gourd. The typical Hyderabadi touch is the tamarind or lemon that adds the ‘khatta’ or sourness. The acid balances the rich flavours of the meat and the sweetness of the onions in the mutton dalcha. Dalcha has been cooked since mediaeval times and when you taste the rich layers of its flavour, you realise that some serious culinary knowledge went into its creation.

Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha / www.quichentell.com

Tips to make a great Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha

1.Use mutton that’s on the bone – meat from the breast (brisket) with a couple of nalli (marrow) bones are best for infusing maximum meaty umami in your dish. Brisket meat has fat and connective tissue that becomes soft when cooked slowly. The fat, bones and tissue are repositories of flavour and collagen and will give you that deep, lingering savoury taste and aroma..

2.Be patient with the onions and meat and I promise your dalcha will turn out to be spectacularly finger-licking. Bhunoing or the technique of slow browning, while continuously stirring and scraping the brown bits is essential to developing the flavour in a mutton dalcha. The Maillard reaction of sugars in the onions and the reduction of amino acids in the meat by the cooking, creates browning and those yummy roasty flavours. So don’t rush and take time to bhuno the meat and onions till they’re caramelly.

3. Low and slow is the mantra while cooking a dalcha. Use a thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and leave the dalcha to stew slowly. The succulent texture of the meat and the creaminess of the dal are built in this way. By the time it’s done, the dal is infused with the savoury richness of the meat and the warm scents of the whole spices. 

Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha / www.quichentell.com

I made my Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha with chana dal (split Bengal gram), but you may also use masoor or red lentils, or a mix of both. Whatever our dalcha with warm, tandoori rotis and thinly sliced red onions marinated in lemon juice. Dunking the toasty, ghee-smeared rotis in the hot, umami-laden dal can was pure, unadulterated, sensual pleasure. The biting cold outside made it extra special. January weather is a trial for me, but foods like the Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha inject joy into the surrounding grey  dreariness.

Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha / www.quichentell.com

Hyderabadi Mutton Dalcha

Slow cooked mutton and chana dal in a fragrant stew.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4


  • 500 g mutton brisket or breast meat
  • 250 g chana dal (split Bengal gram)
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • tsp garlic paste
  • 2 fresh green chillies, slit halfway
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 2 1-inch pieces cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • tsp coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (cayenne)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 10 curry leaves
  • A few mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt
  • Water, as needed


  • Wash and soak the chana dal for 1 hour, pressure cook with a pinch of turmeric powder for 20 minutes and puree to a smooth consistency.
  • Take a deep, heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven and heat 2 tbsps of ghee on a medium flame. Lower the heat, add the whole spices, sauté for 15 secs and add the onions. Keeping the flame low, cook the onions till translucent.
  • Now add the ginger and garlic pastes, stir and cook for another 15 seconds, taking care not to burn the pastes. Tip in the meat, add the turmeric powder and mix well. On a low-medium flame, continue to bhuno or brown the meat, periodically scraping the brown bits of masala adhering to the bottom of the pan. This should take about 10-12 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the chilli powder and ground coriander over the mutton and cook for 10 more seconds. Now season with salt and a pour in the dal. Mix well, add 100 ml warm water, cover and simmer for 40 minutes (depending on the quality of the meat) to and hour till the meat is fully cooked. You may need to add a little water as it cooks, if the dalcha becomes too thick and the dal starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Now add the tamarind paste and curry leaves and cook for a further 5-10 minutes till the sharp, raw taste of tamarind disappears. Add the chopped coriander and mint and turn off the heat. Serve piping hot with rice, jeera pulao, nan or roti.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Arunabala Chaudhury
    January 25, 2024 at 12:38 pm

    5 stars
    Delicious needs patience to cook in low heat for best taste and flavor.

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