Nihari is made by slowly cooking the meat for hours. Nihari can be made with any kind of meat such as chicken, lamb, mutton, or goat meat, however, the most desirable meat for nihari is shank meat of beef along with bone marrow.
The word ‘Nihari‘ is taken from the Arabic word ‘Nihar’ which means early morning. As the name shows, it was prepared for Nawabs and Mughals as their early morning breakfast and their morning prayers.
Original Nihari was cooked overnight on slow flames to get the real flavor of beef shanks. Although Nihari was initially made for early morning breakfast, people eat it in lunch and dinner also as per their choice.
People cook nihari on a slow flame overnight with stock, garlic, and other spices such as cardamom, salt, cumin, cloves, and whole spices. When the meat is tender, people add tarka to it.
Tarka is made with oil, salt, pepper, ginger, red pepper, and turmeric powder. Nihari is garnished with ginger slices and green chilies with lemon wedges. This dish is mostly served with naan, Khamiri roti, or tandoori roti.
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Origin of Nihari
Nihari was invented in Old Delhi, in the reign of the Mughals. They used to eat it after morning prayers and take naps until afternoon. It was a famous breakfast because of its power-boosting properties.
After the independence of Pakistan, a lot of people moved to Karachi from Delhi. They introduced this dish there and some people opened their restaurants offering nihari. It became famous in all the regions of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh afterward.
Different Types of Nihari
Nihari was originally made with shank meat or bone marrow to extract the real flavor and texture. However, people also make nihari in different ways. Here are some famous types of nihari made by people.
- Beef nihari
Beef nihari is the most famous type of Nihari in Pakistan. It is a wonderful addition to any breakfast, lunch, or dinner table. Shank meat is preferably used to make this dish with other spices.
- Mutton Nihari
Mutton nihari is also really famous and liked by people. This dish is made in about 4 hours and is a wonderful part of festive occasions.
- Chicken nihari
It is not very common but it is delicious to satisfy your cravings for nihari. Chicken nihari isn’t required in time and you can make it easier when you don’t have much time.
- Magha Nihari
Magha is a Persian word that means ‘brain’. It is a Pakistani version of nihari where the beef stew is made with fried maghaz and spices. The maghaz has to be boiled before adding to the stew.
What to serve with Nihari?
As the name shows, you can prepare a perfect breakfast table for your loved ones by adding different dishes along with nihari. Here are some ideas for dishes you can add to your menu.
- Mains: Chicken haleem, Bong Paye, Keema piyaz, and Mutton harissa
- Bread: Khamiri roti, Tandoori roti, naan, or tandoori paratha
- Vegetarians: Aalu bhaji, cholay, mix sabzi
- Appetizers: Crackers, cutlets, fish strips can be served as appetizers
- Desserts: Jalebi, Rus gullay, gajar kheer, and rabri are good options
How to cook Nihari with no mistakes?
Making nihari is not a simple process. It needs complete attention and details to follow. Here are some tips to make delicious nihari
- Take shank or shin meat from beef to get the original flavor of nihari
- Always cook nihari on a slow flame to cook it in steam
- Cut the pieces in a bigger size as they will break down after cooking for long hours
- Add all the ingredients inaccurate quantity to get the exact flavor
- Add spices in a balanced quantity
- Don’t overcook the meat as it will be shred away
- Add good quality oil to enhance the flavor
- If you don’t get the required thickness of the gravy, add some roasted flour mixed with water
- Keep stirring while adding the flour liquid to avoid lumps in your gravy
- Add some fried onion to the gravy if you want some more flavor
Nihari Recipe FAQs
Q: What cut of meat is nihari?
A: Nihari is originally made of beef shank and bone marrow. It is made for long hours or preferably overnight to get its real flavor.
Q: What is nalli nihari?
A: Nalli nihari is made with beef shanks and bone marrow. Bone marrow and bones are the main ingredients for providing a delicious flavor of nihari.
Q: Is nihari and paya the same dish?
A: Nihari is made with meat while paya’s are made of beef or lamb feet. Some people combine beef paya and beef meat to make a dish called paya nihari or bong paye.
Q: What meat is a shank?
A: Shank is the portion of meat around the tibia ‘the leg bone beneath the shoulder and knee’. Mutton or lamb shanks are mostly braised whole.
Q: Can we use any meat for nihari?
A: Though beef shanks are usually used for nihari, you can use any meat for nihari including mutton, beef, chicken, or lamb.
Q: How to make nihari thick?
A: Roasted flour is mixed in water to make a thin paste and then added to the stew to make nihari thick.
Nihari Recipe Step by Step
The method of the nihari recipe in recent times is almost the same. It was made with thicker pieces of meat as it has to be cooked for long hours on slow flames.
Shank or shin meat is always preferred for nihari because it is soft and breaks off the bone in a steamy, juicy bite.
Mutton and chicken nihari are also made recently, however, beef nihari is mostly liked and made in Pakistan and India.
Nihari is not like traditional gravy as it is thicker and more flavourful.
It is because the shanks are cooked with the bone marrow throughout the night. Nihari is made in large pots that are sealed with dough to be cooked in steam on low flame.
A good nihari is made when it is made with proper knowledge of spices and other ingredients. If the nihari is not cooked thoroughly, it will lose its real flavor and texture.
Here is a perfect recipe for nihari that can be made by following the steps carefully and making your family surprised
- In a large pot, add oil and ghee.
- Heat it on high flame and add whole spices. Add sliced onions and fry for 10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds.
- Take beef shanks with bone marrow and fry until it changes the color. Add salt and powdered spices and reduce the heat. Sauté for a few seconds and turn off the flame. Take the slow cooker and carefully add the meat mix to it.
- Add water and keep stirring. Let it cook on low heat for about 8 to 10 hours. The quality of meat and your cooker can affect the time of cooking.
- When the beef is tender, take out whole spices and a bowl of liquid in a separate bowl. Sauté flour in a pan and add in the liquid to make a smooth runny paste.
- Add it slowly to the nihari and keep stirring. Stir it well to avoid lumps. Cook it for more than 45 minutes on low heat until the oil pops out. Take it out in a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander, ginger slices, green chilies, and serve with lemon wedges and brown onion.
Your delicious nihari is ready. Serve it with naan, tandoori roti or sheermal. Try this nihari recipe at home and inspire everyone with your cooking skills.
Pakistani Nihari Recipe
- Half piece of a small Star Anise
- 1 Inch piece Cinnamon Sticks
- 2 Small Bay Leaves
- 2-3 Cloves ground in powder
- ½ tsp Fennel Seeds Posder
- ½ tsp Ground Cardamom Seeds
- ½ tsp Paprika Powder
- ½ tsp Cumin Powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- ½ tsp Coriander Powder
- ½ tsp Black Pepper Powder
- ½ tsp Crushed Red Chilli
- ½ tsp Asian Red Chilli Powder
- A pinch of Nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tbsp Nihari Masala
Ingredients for Stew
- 1/3 cup Neutral Oil
- 1 tbsp Butter or Ghee
- 1 Large Onion Sliced
- ¾ Inch Ginger Piece Crushed
- ¼ Cup Wheat Flour
- 3½ Cup Water
- 1 lb Beef Shank Pieces - Cut in 1½ Inch Pieces
Ingredients for Garnishing
- Crispy Fried Onions
- 1 Lemon Sliced
- 2 Green Chillies Chopped
- 1 Inch Piece of Ginger cut in Julienne
- ¼ Bunch of Cilantro Chopped
- Take a medium pot and heat it on medium to high flame
- Heat oil and ghee and add whole spices
- Add onion and fry for 10 minutes or until golden
- Add ginger and garlicand sauté for about 1 minute
- Add beef and fry itfor 5 minutes or until it turns golden
- Reduce the flame andadd all the powdered spices and salt
- Sauté for 30 seconds
- Carefully transferthe meat mixture into a slow cooker
- Add water and keepstirring until mix
- Cook on low flame for8 to 10 hours or overnight
- Let it cook until beef is tender
- Cooking time dependson the quality of the meat and cooker
- When the dish isabout to cook, take out whole spices
- Take out a cup ofstew into a bowl
- Add an ice cube in it and let it cool
- Heat a pan on thestove and add flour into it
- Sauté until it changes color
- Take flour and mix inthe liquid to make a smooth paste
- Bit by bit add itinto the nihari and keep stirring to avoid forming lumps
- Let it cook foraround 40 to 45 minutes
- Cook it on slow flame until oil pops out
- Pour it into theserving bowl
- Garnish it withcoriander leaves, green chilies, brown fried onion
- Delicious nihari isready
- Serve it withsheermal, naan or tandoori ready