Pakistani beef nihari dish is known to have won the hearts of culinary experts since its origin. It is one of the most delectable and intricate items on the menu. This hearty, meaty dish is a breakfast dish that is often served with some fresh naan (traditional bread). You can also have it even with rice. Either way, it tastes absolutely divine.
Nihari is quite buttery, flavorful, and rich, which may not be your ideal option if you are currently in a struggle to avoid oily foods. In fact, you might want to look away in 3..2… OR you could consider this to be the perfect meal for your next cheat’s day!
Follow our simple step-by-step recipe to recreate an authentic, traditional nihari recipe from the comfort of your home.
The Origination Of Nihari
The word ‘Nihari’ stems from the Arabic word ‘Nahar,’ which translates to ‘morning,’ as the Nawabs usually ate this during the reign of the Mughal Empire as a breakfast item. Nihari was mainly eaten in the morning among the working class, as it was known for its energy-boosting traits. Nowadays, Nihari has further developed in the Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan.
What Kind Of Meat Should You Use to Make Nihari?
Since the origin of Nihari, there have been several variations to it that developed as per taste preferences. As far as meat Is concerned, which is the star of the dish, Nihari is usually made with beef shank. However, you also have other alternatives such as spring lamb or mutton and occasionally chicken. Classic Nihari always contains beef shank portion, period. But there’s no stopping you if you do not have it on hand, you could try it with some of the above alternatives but remember the cooking time for each meat will vary accordingly.
Pakistani Beef Nihari
- Spice grinder
- 1 kg beef, preferably shank portion (cut into 8-10 large pieces)
- 1 tbsp garlic paste/freshly minced garlic
- ½ tsp fennel seed powder
- 1 tbsp ginger paste/freshly minced ginger
- 2 tbsp red chili powder/cayenne powder (you can add more or less as per desired)
- 1 ½ tbsp salt (or as per taste)
- 1 tbsp allspice powder
- 5 tbsp plain white flour/whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ cup oil/clarified butter
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- Water as required (around 1-1/2 liters)
- 3 tbsp nihari spices
- Spices needed to make your own special beef nihari spices:
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 5-6 green cardamom
- 1 tsp dry ginger
- 2 black cardamoms
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp nutmeg (grated)
- 4-5 cloves
- For garnishing:
- Ginger cut into strips/julienne
- Few stalks of fresh coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp of (freshly squeezed) lemon juice
- In a saucepan placed over medium heat, dry roast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, dry ginger, green cardamoms, black cardamoms, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg, until fragrant. Stir occasionally. Allow the spices to cool. Grind to a fine powder and set aside.
- Now, in a deep pot, place over medium-low heat the oil/clarified butter and fry the freshly minced ginger and garlic/paste, along with the beef for 10-12 minutes.
- Add the turmeric powder, salt, red chili powder and continue to fry for another 5 minutes.
- Add the water (as required), bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pot and allow cooking on a slow flame until beef is tender and juicy; this may take at least 2 hours. (Some individuals will enable the nihari meat to cook up to 12 hours as the more it cooks, the richer the gravy tastes and the meat is always juicer!)
- While removing the meat from the pan, you can separate the bones from the meat, for a boneless nihari.
- Remove the meat from the pan, place it in a bowl, and set aside.
- Add the nihari spices, allspice powder cumin seed powder, and fennel seed powder to the gravy and mix well.
- Mix the wheat/plain white flour in a 2-3 tbsp. of water until well dissolved and add the thickening agent to the gravy in a continuous stream while moving the nihari with a spoon constantly. Add this till you reach your desired consistency
- When the nihari gravy thickens, add the meat in the gravy again and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes.
- Lastly, garnish with chopped green chilies, fresh coriander leaves, and ginger; serve immediately with naan.
- Though you may use oil, it is much better and preferred to use clarified butter to get that extra kick of flavor in your nihari.
- Aged nihari is always known to have a more flavorful taste relative to when it is freshly prepared. You can prepare the nihari a day before for an even better result.
- You must ensure that the beef is very well cooked. The meat is the ‘make it or break it’ part of the Nihari. If the meat is not tender enough, you can add more water to boil and continue cooking if required. You will know the meat is fully cooked when it is tender enough to come off the bones.
- The level of salt and heat will always depend as per your liking/preference, and you could always taste the gravy in between and adjust the seasonings accordingly
- Nihari is traditionally served with fresh, hot naan/flatbread, but you can also serve it with plain white cumin rice, instead.
- For an instant version of this nihari, you can also use the store-bought nihari spice mix. It is better to use your own spices as it would be more flavorful minus the extra additives, coloring, and flavorings.