What is Nihari?
Nihari is spicy-hot slow-cooked curry made with leg-shank-half of Goat, Sheep, Cow, or Buffalo.
It is made of thigh portion of the leg with the round bone included. In United States this cut is usually referred to as 'Leg Shank Half'. Constant use of the leg by the animal make the muscle tough, dry, and sinewy. The bone is rich in marrow and source of ample gelatin.
In the olden days, only mutton was used. Nowadays Beef is used in Pakistan (Karachi and Lahore). Goat and Buffalo are used in Delhi. In Hyderabad, tongue is also added.
The dish originated in Old Delhi (Jama Masjid and Daryaganj area) in late eighteenth century during the last throws of Mughal empire. The nobles ate Nihari early in the morning and then took a long nap before going to 'Zohar' (afternoon Moslem prayers). Later on, it became popular among labor class as a regular breakfast item. Nihari is also used as a home remedy for colds, runny nose and fever.
Nihari is eaten with Khameeri Roti, or Naan.
The dish has a stew like consistency. The gravy has very amount gelatin and marrow. It is spicy hot with generous amounts of red chili peppers.
The meat including bones is browned in Ghee. The typical curry Masala is made by frying ground onions and spices. Lots of ground hot red chili peppers are added. The meat, Masala and water are combined, brought to a boil. The pot is covered tight. The pot is placed on a very low heat and left to cook overnight. After about eight hours, the meat has become very tender, the marrow has fallen out of the bones and dissolved in the broth, lots of gelatin has been extracted from bones. The bones look hollow as empty white rings. The broth is thickened with flour to give it gravy like consistency. Finally, Bhagar (Temper or Tarka) of onions caramelized in Ghee is added.
The dish is garnished with: Chopped fresh cilantro, Scallions (fresh baby onions), wedges of limes, matchstick cut Ginger, sticks of white radish (Mooli), chopped hot fresh chili pepper.
Lamb Nihari Recipe