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a bowl of nihari with a spoon in it


Course Main Course
Cuisine Pakistani
Keyword Nihari, Pakistani Recipe, Beef Nihari
Author Sarah Mir


  • 2 lb Large chunks of beef/veal - 3 inch pieces
  • 1-2 lb bones
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 ½ tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Ghee/Oil for cooking
  • 1 large onion

Nihari Masala

  • 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp saunf
  • 1.5 tsp whole black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp whole cloves
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 1-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 piece mace
  • 3 black cardamoms
  • 4-6 green cardamoms
  • 1 piece dried ginger (small, can sub with ½ tbsp of gingepowder)
  • 6 whole red chillies (round)
  • 1 tsp kalonji
  • 2 pieces of peepli or 3-4 kabab chini (optional)


  • lemon wedges
  • sliced green chillies
  • julienned ginger


Nihari Masala

  • Dry roast all the ingredients in a frying pan (no oil), grind to a powder. Set aside 

Cooking the Nihari

  • Heat oil in a large pot
  • Thinly slice your onion, fry till golden brown then spread on paper towels to dry. (we will use these at the end)
  • Add all the remaining ingredients in the first list  and stir fry the meat until its browned and the masala is cooked - about 4-5 minutes
  • Then add your Nihari Masala Mix and 7 cups of water and stir well.
  • Pressure cook for 45-50 minutes or slow cook for 4-5 hours undisturbed to get beautifully tender meat. For slow cooking stove top, bring the mixture to a boil then let it simmer covered.
  • Once the time is up skim any greyish scum that may rise to the top and discard. 
  • Crush the onions and mix in, bring the nihari to a boil
  • If you are serving this another time then set it aside for the nihari to cool.
  • When ready to eat then dissolve ⅓ cup atta in 1 cup water and whisk briskly as you add it to the nihari
  • The nihari will thicken as it cooks - 10 to 15 minutes
  • Adjust consistency per liking (more water or atta+water), just remember you need to simmer after adding it to lose the raw taste.
  • Heat a few tbsp of oil in a small saucepan and add 1.5 tbsp of kashmiri laal mirch (for colour) and add it on top of the nihari like a tadka/baghaar. 


Nihari recipes have a few unusual ingredients - mace, nutmeg, dried ginger (soonth) - you can buy these whole or in powder form and it all works well.
Please note the recipe calls for 2 measuring spoons tbsp of salt, if you want to play it safe please start with 1 and then add the other towards the end with the atta/water mix.
While you can use ghee or oil for true flavour I highly recommend ghee most importantly for the tari at the end
Homemade Nihari does not taste like the ubiquitous packet nihari, if you have a hankering for that flavour absolutely add a tbsp of that in your tari. Homemade Nihari also gets exponentially better as it sits!
Nihari gets a lot of it's flavour from the bones, if you want to really extract it to it's maximum then slow cook those overnight in just water and cook your nihari with that water. You can then discard the bones and cook the nihari part with just the meat.