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Lamb Meatballs in Spicy Sauce – Kashmiri Rista

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Making Kashmiri lamb meatballs is a real chore! Here is my simplified but equally as delicious recipe for this famous curry.

Kashmiri lamb rista recipe

Authentic and delicious Kashmiri lamb meatballs.

Making authentic Kashmiri lamb meatballs or ‘lamb rista’ the traditional way is a lot of work! Too much work if you ask me. I tried it once and probably won’t again.

It took me about 90 minutes to prepare the lamb meatballs the traditional way!

As you will see from the photos, the traditional way of making Kashmiri lamb meatballs is to pound the meat with a mallet until it is like a puddy. Then fat is added and again pounded until it is all incorporated into one spongy meatloaf. 

I have made Kashmiri lamb meatballs many times since I did it that way. Nowadays, however, I just purchase some fatty minced lamb which I then blend in a food processor until it is like a fine meaty paste. 

Making the essential fried onion paste for lamb rista

One of the key ingredients for the sauce is fried onion paste. This can easily be made. Just dice one or two onions and fry them in about four tablespoons of oil until golden brown.

Then transfer the fried onions to a food processor and blend into a paste.

You might need to add a little water to assist you with this. Do this and your lamb meatballs will love you for it.

Preparation tips

If you would like to work ahead, you could make and simmer the lamb meatballs and make the onion paste one or two days ahead of time.

Then all you have to do is finish the curry off which only takes minutes. 

These lamb meatballs (rista) are well known for their spongy texture. The baking powder and cornflour help make the rista extra spongy. 

In the recipe I suggest using yoghurt in the sauce. I don’t do this as I like the sauce to be really spicy.

If you find the sauce too spicy for your liking, adding yoghurt will cool it down some. 

Homemade stovetop naans are the perfect accompaniment for these lamb meatballs! Try my recipe here. 


Making Kashmiri lamb rista

This is the authentic way of preparing the meat. I have made this recipe easier by suggesting minced lamb.

Making Kashmiri lamb rista

This was a lot of work. It took me over an hour to do it the traditional way.

Making lamb Rista

Finally! Notice that the meat looks like puddy. You can do this isn a food processor.

Making lamb Rista

If making in a food processor, add the spices to the meat and blend.

Making lamb Rista

simmer the meatballs in the water for 70 minutes, covered over a low heat.

Making Kashmiri Lamb rista

Once cooked, the meatballs will look like this.

Making Kashmiri Lamb Rista

Heat the oil and add the whole spices

Stir in the chill powder, paprika and ground cloves.

Making lamb Rista

Stir in the onion paste.

Making lamb Rista

Add the meatballs and about 500ml (2 cups) of the cooking liquid. Season with salt to taste.

Yield: 4 - 6

How To Make Kashmiri Lamb Meatballs

Lamb Rista
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 1 good pinch of saffron
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) hot water
  • TO MAKE THE RISTA (Meatballs)
  • 900g (2 lbs) fatty minced lamb
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 litre water
  • 6 green cardamom pads - bruised
  • 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 4 dried Kashmiri chillies
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 6 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or ghee
  • 1 x 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamom pods - bruised
  • 6 tbsp fried onion paste
  • 125g (1/2 cup) plain natural yoghurt (optional)
  • 2 tsp ground fennel
  • 4 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Place the saffron in a glass or bowl and cover with 70ml
    (1/4 cup) hot water. Set aside to soak.
  2. Put the minced lamb in a food processor and add the garam masala, baking powder, cornflour, salt, and paprika. Blend for a few minutes until the meat is like a smooth
  3. Wet your hands with water and take a small golf ball size piece of the meat and roll it into a round ball. Do this very lightly by rolling it between your wet hand to get the ball as round and smooth as possible. Repeat with the remaining meat.
  4. Pour 1 litre of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the dried Kashmiri chillies, cinnamon, cardamom pods, black peppercorns and turmeric. Then add the lamb meatballs one at a time.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered for 70 minutes. After this time, uncover and turn off the heat.
  6. Now heat a large frying pan or wok over medium heat and add the oil or ghee. Add the When the oil begins to shimmer, add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and mace.
  7. Let these spices infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds and then add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds to cook off the rawness. Now add the ground spices followed by the onions paste and the yoghurt if using.
  8. Stir this well and then add about 500ml of the cooking liquid from the rista and the saffron water. Then add the rista.
  9. Simmer until you are happy with the consistency. If you prefer a runnier sauce, you could and more cooking stock. For a thicker sauce, just cook it down.
  10. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. You could also add more chilli powder if you prefer a spicier curry.
  11. Serve hot over steamed hot Basmati rice or enjoy with hot naans.

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Wednesday 16th of November 2022

Could I use beef instead of lamb

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

Yes, you could certainly use beef instead of lamb. Thanks Dan

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