Ready for a spicy flour-based beef stew? I know the description of the Pakistani beef nihari recipe is really unique and difficult to imagine. But I can tell you this will be best the curried beef stew you ever had. This Nihari recipe is a tribute to my love of Karachi Nihari.
Nihari Recipe originated around the end of the eighteenth century in Nawab’s Kitchen. (Nawabs were semi-autonomous rulers of princely states of South Asia in Mughal times and also after that period.) So we having some royal Nawabi food.
Nihari comes from the Urdu word Nihar, which means morning. In those times Nawabs would have Nihari in breakfast. There is no particular word for nihari in English but it is basically a smooth flour-based spicy beef stew.
After the Partition of India and Pakistan, the dish got extremely popular in Pakistan, especially in Karachi. Karachi foodies love spicy food and Karachi Nihari is all about spices. Here's you can read more about nihari at Dawn blogs.
Is Nihari Pakistani? Nihari is present on most Pakistani restaurant menu and is widely enjoyed all over Pakistan. It is an integral part of home cooking made on special occasions like Eid and Ramadan. So in this regards Nihari is Pakistani food.
But, if you ask where does Nihari come from? It is still doubtful but most probably in old Dehli or Lucknow. Afterward, it became popular amongst Muslims in South Asia.
Traditionally, Nihari was cooked overnight for at least 5-6 hours and served in the morning. Today, when people move to healthier and easier options for breakfast, Nihari is eaten more frequently as a main course than breakfast.
Which meat is best for Nihari?
Nihari is best made with beef shin or shank and bone marrow. 'Nalli' is an Urdu word that means bone marrow. So a beef or lamb nihari is cooked with beef or lamb bone marrow. Bone marrow and bones are key to the flavor of nihari while tough beef shank meat is perfect for long hours of cooking.
What is Nalli Nihari?
After nihari is cooked, bone marrow is taken out of nihari and added to a serving bowl. Like, you serve nihari in a bowl, then add soft fatty extract of bone marrow (bone is discarded) on top, and finally, you add garnish and tempering. This is called nalli nihari. So Nihari with nalli (bone marrow extracts) is nalli Nihari. Similarly, the cooked brain is also served over the Nihari, it is called Maghaz nihari. 'Maghaz' means brain in Urdu.
With innovations in cooking and growing consumption of chicken. People also make quick and easy Chicken Nihari at home.
What is it served with?
Nihari pairs best with naan or kulcha, you can also enjoy it with karak double roti or toasted bread. However, you can pair it with most bread. Rice is almost never served as aside.
But that's somewhat secondary, the real heroes are garnish, julienne ginger, large and less spicy green chilli sliced, freshly chopped cilantro and lemon wedges. Nihari is festive food meant to be dressed up for the occasion with proper garnish.
Nihari masala tips: You can always substitute whole spice for grounded spice and grounded spice for whole and so adjust the recipe to available pantry supplies. Like, if you don't have whole Kashmiri chilli, you can also use ground Kashmiri chilli. Always remember whole spices ( when grounded) are stronger in flavour than store brought ground spices. Just like freshly crushed pepper is strong than store-bought ground black pepper.
Nihari Tips: Lastly, try to make Beef Nihari 4-6 hours ahead and let it sit for several hours for enhanced flavors. People usually prepare it a day ahead and store it in the fridge until the next day.
Nihari Masala homemade or pre made?
I like both and use both homemade and pre-made spices. Pre-made spices are convenient and with extra flavors and seasoning gives you perfect taste without much hassle. Another reason is getting a spice mix is far cheaper than buying all the spices separately. But the ready-made spice mix is spicier and has a flavor enhancer too.
If you have some time and all the spices in hand, making your own it also easy. I recommend double or triple the recipe and store the extra nihari seasoning in the fridge. So all the effort you put in nihari masala making is worth it.
How to make ?
- For making nihari you need a large pot and fry sliced onions on low until lightly golden.
- Add Boneless beef and bones with bone marrow. Fry beef on medium-high heat for 2-3 until color changes and it is slightly golden. Now add all the ingredients in the spice list and stir further for 1 minute.
- Add 4 cups of water enough to cover the beef completely. Bring it to boil then reduce heat to slow and cook for 4 hours or overnight (on very low heat). Make sure the lid is tightly closed. (If using instant pot or pressure cooker, cook time will be 45 minutes.)
- Once the meat is tender, check by breaking meat with a fork.
- Remove the bones. Extract the bone marrow from bones by holding it with a kitchen towel jerking carefully over a bowl. Or insert the back of the spoon to remove it. Removing bone marrow from cool bone is difficult. set the extracted bone marrow aside.
- Make flour slurry by mix flour with cold water until smooth.
- Add flour slurry and whipped yogurt to the beef stew.
- Adjust water as needed and bring it to boil. Keep stirring so the flour slurry doesn't form lumps.
- Once the nihari starts boiling. Reduce heat and let it simmer slowly for 15 minutes until a thick layer of oil rises naturally.
- Serve Nihari with garnish and lemon wedges. (Ideally, Nihari should be served 3-4 hours after cooking that is leftovers taste best.)
Hungry for more?
Nihari Recipe, Pakistani Beef Stew
- 500 grams beef , plus 2 large bones, preferably bones with bone marrow. ( preferable beef cut are beef shank, chuck or round cut). See notes
- 500 grams bones and bone marrow
- ⅓ cup oil
- ½ cup plain yogurt, whipped
- ½ cup wheat flour or more for thicker
- Water as needed in
- 4 -6 water cup to cook
- 1 cup water in flour
- 1 cup water , or more, to thin out gravy
- 2 inch ginger , cut thinly in julliene
- 4 lemon wedges
- 2 large green chili, less spicy one
- a handful fresh coriander / cilantro, chopped
- In a large pot and fry sliced onions on low until lightly golden.
- Add beef and bones. Fry beef on medium-high heat for 2-3 until color changes and it is slightly golden. Now add all the ingredients in the spice list and stir further for 1 minute.
- Now, add 4 cups of water that is enough to cover the beef completely. Bring it to boil then reduce heat to slow and cook for 4 hours or overnight (on very low heat). Make sure the lid is tightly closed. (If using instant pot or pressure cooker, cook time will be 45 minutes.)
- Once the meat is tender, remove the bones. Carefully extract the bone marrow from hot bones and aside in bowl. (if using bones with marrow)
- Make flour slurry by mixing flour with cold water until smooth. Add flour slurry and whipped yogurt to the beef stew.
- Adjust water as needed and bring it to boil. Keep stirring so the flour slurry doesn't form lumps. Once the nihari starts boiling. Reduce heat and let it simmer slowly for 15 minutes until a thick layer of oil rises naturally.
- Now add extrated bone marrow to nihari (if using) and serve hot Nihari with garnish and lemon wedges. Fill extra garnish in a plate and serve along nihari.