Here is a quick Nihari recipe (Pakistani Beef Stew), which only calls for one pot and less than 30 minutes of preparation. For soft beef shank (or stew) meat, this recipe contains instructions for the stovetop and slow cooker.
WHAT IS NIHARI?
A hearty, slow-cooked meat stew popular in Pakistan and India, is thickened with atta, or durum whole wheat flour. Instead of the beef that is typically used in Pakistani versions of the meal, It can also be made using lamb, goat, or chicken.
The word “nihari” comes from the Arabic root “nahar,” which also means “day” or “morning.” This meal is additionally known as nihari because it was originally consumed in the morning. History claims that it first appeared in Old Delhi, when Mughal nawabs and workmen used it as a fuel source.
WHAT IS NALLI NIHARI?
The name “nalli,” which means “pipe” or “tube,” refers to the tube-like shape of the bones used to create nihari. Beef bones, usually the humerus or the femur, are used to make nalli nihari because they contain bone marrow that is yellow. It acquires a rich, buttery flavour as a result. On occasion, the Nihari is supplemented with bone marrow.
Although using bone-in meat or bones in addition to the beef would improve the flavour (it’s more crucial in the Instant Pot version), this recipe doesn’t call for them. You would require an additional weight of about 1/3 lb in bones if you did use bones.
To make the perfect dish, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1/2 piece of a small star anise
- 1-2 small bay leaves
- 1 inch piece cinnamon stick
- 1-2 whole cloves, crushed using a mortar and pestle into a powder
- 1-2 green cardamom pods, powder made by using a mortar and pestle to crush the seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds, powdered with a mortar and pestle
- Paprika powder, 1/2 teaspoon
- Coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon
- 0.5 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne or red chilli powder
- Crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon
- Black pepper powder, 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/8 teaspoon of optional garlic powder
- squeeze nutmeg
- 1 tbsp Homemade Nihari Masala, or substitute 1/2 tbsp Store-Bought Masala
- Canola or another neutral oil, 1/3 cup
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- Crushed 3/4 inch piece of ginger, crushed 1 1/4 tsp salt (sea salt or table salt), start with 1 1/2 tsp if using homemade
- masala, 1 large (250-270 g) onion, thinly sliced 5–6 garlic cloves, and
- Durum atta flour, 1/4 cup (35 g), (for gluten-free, use dry-roasted brown rice flour or sorghum flour)
- 3 1/2 cups of water for a slow cooker, and 9 cups for a hob
- Beef stew meat, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes, or 1 lb (454 g) boneless beef shank flesh
HOW TO MAKE NIHARI
The key to a great nihari is intentional depth of flavor. Deeply brown onions, fresh spices infusing the oil, meat that’s properly braised all this contributes to the revered taste of it.
- Step 1: Cook the meat and onions. Nihari is given flavour, body, and depth by deeply browned onions (for reference, watch the video rather than look at the picture). Similar to most stews, browning the meat by searing it is crucial, but don’t sear it for too long or the meat will become tough.
- Step 2: Spices by Bloom. Spices should be added and cooked in the hot oil. You can always add a little water if you’re concerned about them burning.
- Step 3: Cook. Allow it to come to a boil on the hob before turning down the heat to a simmer. Transfer the contents to a slow cooker, add water, and stir to combine for a slow cooker.
- Step 4: Thicken. There will be clumps formed if you try to thicken the gravy by adding flour. Remove some of the nihari liquid (I’ve always felt adding water masks the flavour) and let it cool to prevent this. It is then mixed with the atta flour. To avoid clumping, add this slurry while swirling the nihari. Let this simmer and thicken.
HOW TO GET THE OIL (TARI) ON TOP OF NIHARI
The fats and oil naturally rise to the top of a cooked curry. With oil typically releases after the meat and atta have both finished cooking. It won’t seem as oily as most restaurant because I don’t use as much oil as some classic recipes.
After you’re done cooking, let it simmer uncovered on low heat for 5 minutes to help the oil rise to the top. To give its distinctive coating of oil on top, you can also either save oil before adding the atta or add a tarka (tempering of oil with spices).
Tips for making the perfect Nihari
- For the most tasty and tender Nihari, use top-notch meat, ideally beef shank.
- The flavours and scent of the whole spices are improved by toasting them before grinding.
- Be patient and let it simmer for several hours if you want a rich and fragrant Nihari.
- Depending on your preferred taste, change the salt and spice amounts.
- It is thickened with flour paste, but you can change the thickness to your preference by adding more or less flour paste.
Variations of Nihari
It has evolved over time, and there are several regional variations of this delicious dish. Some popular variations include:
- Delhi Nihari: An intensely flavorful variation of Nihari, distinguished by its liberal use of spices.
- Nihari from Lucknow is a milder variety with a creamy, velvety texture that is frequently served with sheermaal, a sweet biscuit.
- Karachi Nihari is a well-liked street cuisine in Karachi, Pakistan, and is served with naan (a type of bread). It is well-known for its spicy and sour flavours.
- With the addition of mustard oil and special spices like fennel seeds and cinnamon, Kolkata Nihari gives Nihari a Bengali flavour.
Serving and garnishing:
Traditionally it is served hot and topped with a variety of toppings to provide additional flavour. It is frequently garnished with things like:
- Onions that have been thinly sliced and deep-fried till crispy and golden brown.
- Coriander leaves that have been freshly chopped for a burst of flavour.
- Ginger juliennes: Ginger cut into thin strips to add a sense of heat.
- Lemon wedges: The addition of fresh lemon juice gives the dish a tart touch.
It is frequently eaten with naan or roti (flatbread), while yoghurt, pickles, and raita (a side dish made of yoghurt) are frequently added to counteract the richness of the stew.
In addition to being a tasty and delectable dish, nihari boasts a number of health advantages. Here are some advantages to your health of it consumption:
- Rich in protein: Meat, a fantastic source of high-quality protein, is used to make nihari. Protein is necessary for the development and repair of tissues, immune system support, and the maintenance of healthy skin, hair, and nails.
- It has a variety of spices and herbs, including cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, which are loaded with nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients support digestion, immune system health, and general wellbeing.
- It is often made with beef shank, which includes collagen, a form of protein that is good for bones and joints. Collagen is also a component of nihari. Nihari is a beneficial dish for bone health since the slow cooking method helps to release the nutrients from the bones.
- It is a hearty, calorie-dense dish that has a good quantity of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and calories that can help you feel energised and satisfied for a long time.
- Promotes digestive health: Nihari’s slow cooking method aids in the breakdown of the meat and bones, releasing their nutrients and making them easier to digest. Ginger and cumin, two of the spices used in it, help with digestion and can ease discomfort in the digestive system.