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Nihari - a Pakistani delicacy

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Author Topic: Nihari - a Pakistani delicacy  (Read 1712 times)
Heba E. Husseyn
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« on: June 30, 2007, 12:25:20 am »


This dish is a speciality of Pakistan, particularly the southern city of Karachi.  The texture, spiciness, and tenderness of this dish makes it an all-round favourite of every Karachite.  And thanks to a few of my Karachite friends who taught me delicious stuff and told me its history.  Never knew before. 

Here's a some history of this dish.

Nihari is originally a dish from the Muslims of Delhi and is very popular in Pakistan. It is a stew curry made from beef, lamb or chicken.  The Muslims of Delhi were the ones who actually brought it to Pakistan and popularized it there. Nihari originated as a dish of the Muslim upper class society in Delhi. It passed to other classes as Muslim ascendency and power declined. This was after the waning of Mughal power in the mid to late 18th century when many Muslim families from the Mughal nobility became impoverished.

Traditionally, Nihari is known as holiday breakfast dish.  On holidays during weekends when people wake up late and sit down at the breakfast table not before 10.00 a.m., they often take a heavy breakfast so as to skip lunch, commonly known as brunch.  On such mornings, Nihari is a hot favourite at the breakfast table. 


Beef, lamb or chicken with bones 1 kg
Canola or Corn oil  1 and a half cups
Whole wheat flour (i.e. brown flour) 50 gm
Gram flour (i.e. besan) 50 gm
Onion  1 medium finely sliced
Garlic paste 1 tsp
Ginger paste 1 tsp
Nihari spice mix by 'Shan' or 'National' (anyone of the 2 manufacturers)

If you don't want the dish to be too spicy, use less than one packet Nihari mix for 1 kg meat.


In a large cooking container, heat 1 cup of oil.  Add garlic, ginger, meat and Nihari mix.  Stir and fry for a few minutes.  Then add about 7 to 8 glasses of water. 

Cover and cook on very slow heat until the meat is tender.  If using chicken, you might need to add less water than mentioned.  On low heat, beef could take upto 5 hours to cook.  If you are using veil with bones, it would cook faster.  Lamb could take upto 3 to 4 hours.  Chicken will cook within 2 hours.

Then, when the meat is almost cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes before removing it from the cooker, you need to add the wheat flour and gram flour, mixed together.  But this has to first be roasted or cooked in a dry saucepan for about 20 minutes or so, till it turns quite brown and gives of an appetizing cooked fragrance.  At this point, remove from fire.  Let it cool for a few minutes.  Then add some water to it to make into a thin paste.  Now add this flour paste to the meat gravy and cook the meat for about 15 minutes in slightly higher heat.  Remove from cooker.

Heat the remaining half cup oil in a frying pan and add sliced onions.  Fry until golden and stir into the Nihari.  Cover the Nihari and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Garnish with finely chopped green chillies, chopped fresh ginger, chopped fresh corriander and sliced lemon. 

Serve hot with 'nan' bread or pita bread. 

As Nihari curry accompaniment (if desired), dry salad with lemon juice dressing or sauted vegetables or dry lentil curry would be suitable.   

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N. Truth Seeker
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2007, 12:37:07 am »

I once had this at a friend's house.  While it tasted great, it was about the spicest stuff I've ever put in my mouth.  It left my eyes teary and my nose doggy for over an hour after eating it.  A cool ice cream dessert made me relax ..  Grin

Therefore I would suggest that those who aren't used to spicy food, use very little of the spice mix.

I think nowadays it's also eaten for dinner.
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2007, 03:38:29 am »

O yeah, I've heard a great deal about Nihari as the top choice of Pakistani cuisine.  But never yet tasted it.  The history and recipe sound appealing, though I too can't handle too much chilly-spice.  I think, if I use half pack of the mix for 3 lbs of meat would make it milder. 
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