Simply indulgence for a weekend brunch. That is what this meltingly-tender lamb nihari has to offer. Its aromatic gravy is so delicious to mop with your naan bread.
Tasty Lamb Nihari
Lamb nihari (also spelt as Nehari) is a treat menu for the weekend brunch. It is delicately spicy, with a tasty aroma that one would surely not resist trying.
This spiced slow-cooked lamb stew is usually served for special occasions such as family gatherings or celebrations.
Nonetheless, it is traditionally served as one of the breakfast menus for the Nawab (noblemen) during the Mughal time in the Indian subcontinent.
Therefore, you might come across this much-loved dish variety across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and more.
However, the recipe I’m sharing with you here is, of course, based on what I learned from my extended Pakistani family. So it is rooted in a Pakistani nihari recipe.
What is so special about Nihari?
Apart from its flavourful taste, this Nihari also has the goodness of the meat and the bones. All because of its slow cooking.
And having mixed with spices, the bone broth that comes out of the cooking process becomes very rich in flavour and quality.
That’s why people will likely feel full and sleepy after enjoying Nihari.
How to enjoy it?
The best thing to eat this Nehari is with fluffy naan bread. But of course, you can always enjoy it with roti/ chapati or any other flatbreads. But definitely not with rice.
And to enhance the taste to the next level, sprinkle some crispy fried onions, sliced fresh ginger, chopped fresh green chillies and a squeeze of lemon before serving. Promise it will be more than mouth-watering spicy lamb stew you’ll ever have.
What meat do you use?
Traditionally, this dish is made with beef. Because beef is simply more affordable for people in Pakistan.
However, I tend to make it with lamb more often than not.
I usually use lamb shoulder or lamb legs and cut them into small pieces. Or, whole lamb shanks.
In this recipe, I used lamb shanks. But feel free to use a different one that you like.
I believe some people now make this dish with chicken well. But I never tried it.
Can I use a ready-made Nihari spice mix?
Yes, of course, you can. If you want to use the ready-made spice mix, you can omit the Nihari masala recipe below.
But I must warn you that ready-made spice mix tends to have a high content of hot chilli powder. So if you’re ok with hot spicy food, you’re good to use the spice mix.
My personal preference for Nihari spice mix is by Laziza and Shan. Though I rarely use them. Simply because the Nihari will be so spicy that my kids can not eat it.
That is why I prefer using my own mixed spices. So I have more control over how much chilli powder I can add.
Ways to make Nihari in the slow cooker
All of us know that the convenience of using a slow cooker is that you can throw everything in, then set it and forget it. No need to attend to it every so often.
This recipe uses a slow cooker/ crockpot for the exact reason.
But, I appreciate that sometimes we forget to prepare things to cook way in advance. Or, we happen to fancy this Nihari just hours before.
So below are the choices of how long you cook your Nihari in a slow cooker.
- You only have 5-6 hours to cook: set your slow cooker on high all the way through. If possible, turn the meat once halfway time. And stir in the flour mixture an hour before your cooking is finished.
- You start in the morning or at night before you sleep, and you have 8-10 hours to cook. You can set the crockpot/ slow cooker on high for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then leave it to cook on low for the rest of the time. Stir in the flour mixture at least an hour before the cooking ends.
Simple tips to make delicious Nihari
When you don’t have much time to slow cook your lamb stew, try to pierce your meat with a skewer or fork before cooking.
This helps the spices and flavour to be absorbed right through the meat. So every slice and piece of meat will be flavoursome.
You can keep your cool down Nihari in the refrigerator/ fridge for about one week.
If you wish, you can freeze it too. And it keeps well for almost 2 months.
Thaw the Nihari in the fridge/ refrigerator overnight and reheat it until it is piping hot before serving.
Once it is thawed, you should eat it within a few days. And you must not refreeze it.
What can you serve with Nihari?
Because of its rich and filling taste, Nihari is typically served with just naan bread. Without anything on the side.
Only garnishes such as ginger slices, chopped chillies, fried onions and lemon.
People don’t really serve any other side dish to go with it.
If anything, we usually just make a salad on the side and have some desserts to finish the meal.
Right, thank you for checking this recipe. I hope you will try it. Let me know how you like it. I will really appreciate it.
Take care and all the best.
- Mixing bowls.
- Spice grinder
- Frying pan
- Slow cooker
- 3.3-3.9 pounds lamb shanks approximately 3 pieces.
- 3 medium brown onions finely sliced.
- 2 tablespoons wholemeal flour/ chapati flour.
- 8 tablespoons oil for frying.
- 25 fluid ounces water.
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt or according to taste.
- 2 small pieces of mace.
- ¼ whole nutmeg crushed.
- 2 inches/ 5 cm of ginger peeled and chopped.
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper.
- 2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds.
- 2 inches cinnamon stick broken into smaller pieces.
- 2-3 bay leaves.
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder.
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder or cayenne pepper.
- 1 teaspoon red paprika powder.
- Prepare the lamb shanks, wash and dry them. Using a skewer or a fork, pierce the meat all over. This can help the spice and flavour be absorbed better.
- Brown lamb shanks on a skillet/ frying pan with 1-2 tablespoons oil. Set aside.
- Grind the nutmeg, whole fennel seeds, bay leaves, mace, and cinnamon until you get a fine mixture. You can use a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Add the ginger powder, ground black pepper, salt, Kashmiri red chilli powder/ cayenne pepper, and paprika powder to the mixture and set aside.
- Using a blender, make a ginger paste by blending the ginger root with 3 tablespoons of water until smooth. Set aside.
- On a large frying pan, fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Take care and keep stirring during the fry to ensure every slice is cooked evenly.
- Once the onions brown, add the ginger paste and spice mixture. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes or until the spice mixture bubble and release the aroma. You can add a little water if you like so the mixture doesn't go too dry.
- Place the lamb shanks in the slow cooker/ crockpot bowl.
- Then spoon the spice mixture all over the lamb shanks. Spread it as evenly as possible.
- Pour the water into the bowl and set the microwave/ crockpot to high. Cook on high for about an hour, then turn it to low. Leave to cook for 5-6 hours. If possible, turn the meat halfway time.
- Mix the wholemeal flour with 3 tablespoons of water until smooth, and then stir it in the nihari gravy. Put the lid back on and cook further on high for an hour or until you see the gravy is simmering again.
- Serve the nihari with crispy fried onions, sliced ginger, lemon and chopped fresh green chillies.
- To make the grinder work better, cut your mace, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks into small pieces before you grind them. This way, you’ll get a finer mixture easily.
- If you want to cook this nihari overnight, or over a longer time such as from morning to evening, you can skip the first hour of cooking it on high. Just set it on low from the beginning.
- When cooking on low for a longer time, try to add the flour mixture about 2 hours before your nihari is ready.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.