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Nihari (Urdu: نہاری ) is an extremely popular national dish in Pakistan and also eaten among Muslims in India. The word Nihar (Urdu: نہار ) means morning in Urdu and this dish was usually eaten in the late morning.

Nihari is a stew made from the shank of beef (or lamb) and spices. Originating in Delhi, it is now popular in Pakistan and (along with its cousin Siri paya) in northern India. The Muslims of Delhi brought it to Pakistan. Nihari is known for its spiciness and taste. Nihari is known in India as the breakfast curry, as it is often eaten in the morning. It is originally more of a delicacy with myriad variations on spiciness and texture.

Nihari originated as a dish of the Muslim upper class society in Delhi. It passed to other classes as Muslim ascendancy 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.


Nihari is cooked overnight in various vessels, sometimes even buried underground while it cooked, as Shab Deg is, which results in extremely tender morsels of meat, including the flavourful bone marrow. It is served with a number of side dishes. The bhaghaar is lightly fried in ghee to reduce the heat of chilis and the tarka is an additional oily chilli to spice up the flavour. Cooked brains and bone marrow are served alongside the stew. The Nihari is garnished according to individual tastes with coriander leaves, fried onions, green chillies, strips of ginger, lemons and sliced white radishes. In addition, garam masala, a blend of powdered spices is sprinkled over the stew. Salt is added to taste. In restaurants many of the garnishings are already added to increase customer turnover.

Traditional Nihari recipes call for 6-8 hours of cooking time, in addition to the preparation of the ingredients. This is much less common today with the use of tenderer cuts of meat (i.e. sirloin) instead of the tougher shank. Traditionally the dish is eaten in the early hours of the morning. Because the stew is so rich, one is supposed to have an extended nap till the afternoon Muslim zohr prayers which occur after midday.

Here is a version of Nihari popular in Hyderabad (India): prepare the broth by boiling water along with goat or beef shanks (sometimes chicken) or vegetables (if you want to make a vegetarian version of it) along with some salt. If you are using mutton paya, then the process takes longer.

Grind onions, shahi zeera (black cumin), cloves and cardamom together. Once the broth is ready, heat oil in a large pan, add the spice paste and let it fry till the raw smell of onion disappears, then add ginger and garlic paste. Fry for a few more minutes, add salt, chili powder and the broth and let it cook over medium heat till all the spices have blended well into the soup. The Nihari is ready.

Best enjoyed during winter or when down with a cold and best eaten with bread or phulka (Indian bread).

Nihari Shops

Famous Nihari shops in Pakistan are located in Karachi and Lahore. In Delhi, most nihari shops are modest affairs. Almost every locale within old Delhi has its own favourite nihari shop, which it invariably considers far superior to the others. The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is home to Delhi Restaurant (Frijjumuraj Road) which is also famous for its Nihari.

Other kinds of the dish

The Hyderabadi version of the Nihari contains lamb bones and tongue. Another version of Nihari, popularised by the spread of quick-cooking spice recipes from brands like Shan and National Foods, uses chicken to make a sort of thick chicken broth.

See also

Related Links

Haji Noora ki Nihari

Nihari Recipe video

Paya Nihari Recipe -

Authentic Pakistani & Indian Nihari Recipes & Cooking Videos

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