Nihari has long been a favourite in my household. I didn’t grow up eating it, but my husband did and I decided to learn how to make it. Of course like many popular recipes, each family has their own way of preparing Nihari. Traditionally this is slow cooked overnight and in the olden days the women of the household would take turns to stir the pot overnight.

Beef Nihari is a slow cooked meat stew. It’s typically made with a fatty and bony part of the cow such as the shank. The meat is cooked in a special blend of spices and the gravy is thickened with flour.


My first try was a Pakistani recipe that was translated for me by my friend Lubna. Since then, I’ve eaten Nihari several times both here in Toronto and in India and have tried both the Pakistani and Indian versions.

A few years ago we visited India during Ramadan and made a trip to Mohammed Ali Road to eat their famous Nalli Nihari – it was to die for! Recently I came across 3 perfect Lamb Shanks so I decided to give a new Nihari recipe a whirl. In this new recipe, I use a blend of spices that I grind myself for optimal flavour. I also slow cooked this on my cooktop as opposed to using my slow cooker. I cooked this in this manner to ensure that the meat is ‘fall off the bone’ and not ‘fallen off the bone’ If you have the timing right, you can also use your slow cooker for the cooking portion.

Beef Nihari

Ingredients

Nihari Masala – yields approx 5 tbsps

  • 1 tbsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp Peppercorns
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 6 green Cardamoms
  • 2 black Cardamoms
  • 2 inch stick of Ginger
  • 1 Mace flower
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 10 Cloves
  • 1 tbsp red Chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Turmeric

Meat

  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 4 tbsps fresh Ginger and Garlic paste
  • Beef Shank piece 3 lbs approx 1.3 kg
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 2 litres Water
  • 2 tbsps of all purpose flour & water

Tadka(optional)

  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black Sesame seeds
  • 4 dried red Chillies

Garnish

  • Julienne of Ginger & Garlic
  • Lime & Lemon wedges
  • Sliced green Chillies
  • Fried Onions
  • Coriander

Instructions

  • Prepare the Nihari masala by grinding all the spices together
  • Heat some oil and saute the ginger and garlic
  • Add the beef shanks and all the ground nihari masala and salt
  • Add a little water if it starts to burn
  • Coat the shanks in the spices and add the rest of the water, cover and slow cook for 2.5 – 3 hours
  • Remove the shanks make a flour slurry and thicken the gravy
  • Prepare the tadka by heating some ghee and saute the cumin and sesame seeds
  • Add the dried chillies and pour the tadka over the nihari – this is totally optional and not done in many nihari recipes