Nihari is a popular meat stew in Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of India. It is made out of beef shanks (sometimes chicken and vegetables) slowly simmered in an array of spices. Traditionally nihari is cooked overnight and sometimes it is even buried underground while it cooked which makes the meat really tender, other versions also use brains to enhance and thicken the texture of the stew. Once served it is garnished with coriander, crispy fried onions, green chillies, ginger, lemons and white radishes. The name Nihar came from the Arabic word “Nahar” which means “morning”, hence the reason why this dish is usually consumed in the early morning before sunrise, right after the Fajr prayers.

For my recipe we will lighten it up a bit compared to the traditional one and we will be cutting down the cooking time of course, we won’t be consuming this in the morning as well but I should try that even just for once in the near future I guess most guys would want something savoury for breakfast.


1 1/2 kg of 5 pc sections of beef shanks
4 tbsp flour
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 pc star anise
1 stick cinnamon
3 pcs bay leaves
1 tsp ginger paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onions, finely chopped

Ingredients (Garnish)

Coriander leaves, chopped
Red chilies, chopped
Lemon, sliced
Fried Onions


1. In a large pot add oil then beef shanks on all sides, remove from pot then set aside.
2. Add the ginger, garlic and onions and stir fry until onions are soft.
3. Add the cayenne, turmeric and coriander, continue to stir until fragrant.
4. Add the beef back and the remaining ingredients except for flour and fill with water until beef is totally submerged. Bring it to a boil and simmer in very low heat for 2 hours or until meat is very tender. Add water if needed.
5. Remove cinnamon stick, star anise and bay leaf, dissolve flour in 1 cup of water then pour into the pot. Simmer for 15 more minutes and let the sauce thicken.
6. Serve with garnishes.

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14 thoughts on “Nihari

  1. Oh, what fun! Something bar osso buco to prepare with shank pieces! Not that I dislke the first [one of 'my' dishes'!] but this will be so much pleasure to prepare and taste – and i can imagine the depth of flavour!

  2. Sorry, your very first step in your method, do you mean to say “brown the shanks on all sides” or just to coat the brown shanks in a pot of oil. Sorry, it could be interpreted either way. Also if you do brown the shanks at what temperature on the stove low, med, high? Thank you so much!

  3. In the Azores (Portuguese islands) it is still used to cook underground due to volcanic geysers.
    This dish is certainly very rich for breakfast but it’s soooo comforting for a winter afternoon (and Portugal is under such cold weather… )

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