Nihari: A Taste of Home (with Gluten Free option)
Couple of years back I got an opportunity to share a recipe from my native country on a platform where people from around the globe were contributing their local speciality. How difficult this selection is! I know and understand that most of us would go with Biryani but for some reason I wasn’t fully on board with this so I just went with my all time favorite, Nihari. Ah yum! I would pick nihari over any other dish from any cuisine any given day. I was suggested to keep it short and to the point to keep the audience engaged and here is how it went:
Hello everyone! I am really excited to be a part of Dinners from around the World to represent my
country, Pakistan. Before sharing my personal favorite recipe I would like to give a quick overview of
Pakistani food which is basically an amalgamation of different cuisines. Yeah! You see Pakistan, India and
Bangladesh were one single country, India, ruled by Muslim rulers; Mughals that is, for centuries. Just
like our languages and traditions, food is also very much similar to Indian, Persian, Afghani, Bengali,
Arabic and even Turkish cuisine. All this diversity is due to the geographical conditions and historic
We are basically meat eaters! Lamb, beef and chicken grace our dining tables on daily basis with
seasonal vegetables and all kinds of daals (pulses) which quite frankly every kid tries to dodge.
Roti/chapati, naan, paratha are the staples. Each province has its own customized biryani and
pulao/pilaf, kebab, raita and chutney. Most common desserts would be kheer, firni (both like rice
pudding), zarda (saffron infuse rice), kulfa (local ice cream on stick), falooda ( corn flour noodles with kulfa) and halwa.
I choose to share Nihari with you all. It is a slowly cooked, spicy and aromatic beef shank curry,
thickened by flour or chickpea flour. In Punjab province it is served for breakfast too. To shorten the
ingredient list I am using Shan Nihari Masala which is available everywhere.
Slow cooked spicy beef shank curry is a gem from Pakistani cuisine.
- 1 kg beef shank, boneless and cut into big pieces
- 40 gm Shan Nihari Masala
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- 3 litre water
- 2 tsp anise powder (pisi howi sounf)
- 1½ tsp dried ginger powder (sounth)
- 3/4 tsp green cardamom powder (pisi howi hari ilaichi)
- 100 gm wheat flour mixed in 1 ½ cups of water ( use gram flour for gluten free)
- ½-¾ cup cooking oil or ghee
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, slices
- fresh coriander, green chillies, sliced ginger for garnish
- naan as required
In a mixing bowl combine beef pieces, nihari masala, ginger paste and cooking oil. Refrigerate overnight.
Transfer marinated beef and marinade to a big cooking pot and cook over medium high flame to roast and brown well from all sides. About 5-6 minutes, stirring in intervals.
When oil separates from meat, pour in 3 litres of water, cover and let cook over low medium flame for about 4-5 hours or till beef is tender.
Add in ground anise, dried ginger and green cardamom powder. Cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Gradually stir in dissolved flour mixture, stir continuously to avoid any lumps over high flame.
Lower the flame to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Turn the flame off but do not take the lid off for another 10 minutes.
Garnish with green coriander, green chillies and sliced ginger. Serve hot with naan.