If you happen to visit any Kashmiri home as a guest in winter, you will not be served with Wazaan but Herissa – the age-old traditional mutton recipe served with Kashmiri bread mostly eaten as brunch.

The preparation of this recipe takes over 12 hours. The mashed lean mutton mixed with rice and flavoured with spices like fennel, cardamom, clove, saffron and salt is simmered in a huge oven fixed over slow-burning firewood during whole night to make it mouthwatering.

Chefs use spatula to mesh the meat in oven at a herrisa shop in downtown Srinagar
Pic by Asif Umar

Herissa is high demand in Kashmir during winter months and not all are specialized in making this rare recipe.

This food is prepared by special chefs mostly found in old city downtown in Srinagar.

People visit these shops at the first light in the morning. The dish is made further irresistible after pouring sizzling oil over a plate containing herissa which further enhances its taste and flavor.

The chef pours sizzling hot oil over a plate to add last minute flavor to the herissa

On an average one kilogram of herrisa is sold at Rs 800 but at shops people at most can have one fourth of the kilogram. Small servings of minimum Rs 50 is also served at the shops with a bread.

This recipe has high fat content which is why it is mostly eaten in harsh winters in Kashmir to get extra calories to fight the nail-biting cold.


1 kg mutton or lamb meat

2 cups rice (Soaked for 10-12 hours or in an emergency soak it in warm water for 2-3 hours.)

1 tablespoon fennel

2 teaspoons salt

5-6 badi elaichi (black cardamom)

1-2 big cinnamon sticks

2 bulbs onion (fried till crisp)

Assemble the following ingredients and keep aside:

5-6 green cardamom

4 cinnamon sticks

4 black cardamom

3 olives

1 cup sooji or atta


Wash meat and place it in the pressure cooker with the 6-7 cups of water.

Add water, salt, cardamom, garlic, fennel, cinnamon to the meat and steam. Keep on heat after 1st steam for 1 hour. Remove from heat and take out the bones from the meat.

Drain the water from the rice and pulse it in a mixer till it gets grainy consistency. (Note: It should look like sooji)

Fill a heavy bottomed utensil halfway with water and add the rice to it, while stirring continuously, to prevent any lumps from being formed.

Mash the cooked meat and mix it properly with the spicy juices in the pressure cooker. Transfer the mixture into the pan containing rice.

Cook over low heat while stirring continuously for 10-15 minutes till the brew gets thick.

Add the assembled ingredients now and stir till the preparation becomes more viscous.

Mix fried onions with two tablespoon of heated oil and add to the stew.

Stir again on slow heat for 15 minutes and cover the pan with a toweled lid for 25-30 minutes. (Though optional, 1/2 cup of saffron water can be added before covering the pan for stronger flavours and fragrance.)Take it off the heat and keep overnight.

Next morning, reheat the stew and add 4 tablespoons oil should be heated and mixed with rest of fried onions separately and should be added to the harissa. Keep stirring with ‘karchi’. Serve in hot bowl topped with hot oil and some flakes of fried onion with bread.