Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Lamb nihari

I was so excited to have two days off for christmas and boxing day, so I asked what you suggest/request me to make. One of the suggestions was the Pakistani nihari, which I found very appealing - mainly because I love trying out dishes I have never heard of from different parts of the world - and now is the perfect time to challenge oneself.

The recipe is not difficult but is timely. It took just over 4 hours from start to finish! But the end result is worth the effort! I have left in some ingredients below in case you have them on hand, but have written if I omitted or replaced with something. Also, my family are not big fans of ghee, and for this reason I excluded it completely and only used oil.


  • Skill level: Easy
  • Serves: 7-10 people
  • Time for prep and cooking: 4 hours
What you will need:

For the nihari garam masala spice mix

1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 large cinnamon quill or a handful of cinnamon pieces
10 green cardamom
1 large black cardamom (omitted)
2 star anise
1 + 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 pieces of mace (omitted)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (omitted)
2 tbsp poppy seed paste - made by grinding poppy seeds with hot water
15 cloves
3/4 tbsp black peppercorns

For the actual nihari

4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
6 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
3 large lamb shanks, cut as appropriate (or leg of lamb chopped into pieces)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 + 1/2 tbsp kashmiri red chilli powder (I replaced this with 2 tbsp tomato puree + 1 tsp paprika)
8 cups boiling water
1 tbsp plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp wholemeal flour, sifted

To decorate

Bunch of coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and cut into strips
2 large lemons, cut into wedges

Optional (which I omitted):

Green chillis, chopped finely
2 cups of deep fried onions

How to make:

1) Grind all the ingredients under 'for the nihari garam masala spice mix' until they become a powder - then set aside

2) In a large deep pot, heat the oil on medium heat, then fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes. Add the lamb and continue frying until the lamb is sealed (the colour changes on all sides) - this may take 10-15 mins, so be patient :)

3) Sprinkle the salt and chilli powder over the lamb, followed by the nihari garam masala you prepared earlier (leave 3 tsp of the garam masala for later use). Fry until the masala becomes fragrant, adding a splash of water if the spices stick to the pan. Add the kashmiri chilli powder to the lamb and mix well

4) Add 8 cups of boiling water, or until the meat is submerged, turn the heat down to low, cover and leave to cook for 45 mins to 1 hour, mixing from time to time

5) After an hour, take a cup out of the lamb liquid, and add both flours to it, mixing it well. Then add this back into the main pot and stir. Add another cup of boiling water if needed, then cover and leave on very low heat for 2 hours (or until the meat is so tender it falls off the bone)

6) Once it is ready, serve hot topped with the ingredients under 'to decorate' and the remaining garam masala spice






You can serve this with rice, or roti, or both :) I served with both. Alhamdulilah this was delicious, the meat was super tender and the lamb nihari was delicious! Enjoy :)

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