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Nihari (Pakistani Beef Stew)

Nihari –  Enjoy this slow-simmered stew made with succulent beef shanks and marrow bones spiced with homemade nihari masala. The ghee separates as it cooks, resulting in a silky and mouthwatering stew. We pair ours with fresh naan to complete the meal. Like Paya Soup, Pakistani beef stew is filling and perfect for the cool winter months.

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WHAT IS NIHARI?

Nihari, the national dish of Pakistani, is a perfect comfort dish for any dawat or gathering. The festive meal consists of tender, slow-cooked meat tempered with sautéed garlic, ginger, and fresh spices. ‘Nihari’ comes from the Arabic word ‘nahaar,’ which means morning- referring to the time of day the meal is served most often in homes. However, if you love curried beef, the tender meat and flavorful broth will leave you craving it all day. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Nihari Masala: I included a recipe for homemade masala. Ours consists of sautéed ginger and garlic. Then, we add spices like coriander, ginger, red chili powder, cumin, turmeric, fennel, and salt. You can use pre-made mixes out of convenience. They are found online or at a local Asian or Indian market; my favorite is Shan nihari masala. Use ¼ of the packet for mild, and add more if you prefer spicy.
  • Beef: Beef shank stews or pressure cooks until it is fall-off-the-bone tender. Set aside enough cooking time for the collagen and tissues to break down and incorporate with the broth.
  • Bones: What is nihari without added bones? Ask your butcher for bones with marrow or ‘nalli.’ The bones and marrow provide consistency while flavoring the dish and adding nutrients.
  • Garnish: Fresh toppings are a critical part of the nihari experience when eating at home or in a restaurant; we serve ours with caramelized onion, ginger, chilies, and lemon wedges.

HOW TO MAKE NIHARI  

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Heat ghee in a Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion and fry until caramelized and brown, for about 20-25 minutes. Remove half of the onions using a slotted spoon and set them aside. Stir the garlic and ginger into the pot and cook for another minute.

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Add the coriander powder, ginger powder, red chili powder, cumin, turmeric, fennel, and salt; stir to combine.

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Rinse the beef shank and bones, and add them to the pot. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the color changes. Then, add 4-6 cups of water (or enough to cover the beef).

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Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 4 hours.

Nihari cooking in a pan.

COOKING TIPS

  • Set aside at least four hours to slow cook the beef for it to become tender.
  • If you prefer thicker nihari, toast 1 cup of atta flour (whole wheat flour or Durum flour) in a skillet. Then, combine it with 1 cup of warm water. Slowly add it to the mixture after the meat is tender.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of these Pakistani-inspired favorites!  

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SERVING SUGGESTIONS 

The meal is served any time of the day, specifically for Breakfast. And if you decide to make it, I suggest eating it with some kind of bread like naan, sheermal, paratha, or chapati. Sometimes we change things up and eat it with Carrot Halwa, or another tasty dessert.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • TO STORE – Store the leftovers in an airtight container; it will keep for 3-5 days.
  • TO FREEZE – Allow the dish to cool, then add it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Nihari freezes for 3 months. When you’re ready to eat it, let it defrost in the fridge overnight.
  • TO REHEAT – Warm the leftovers on the stovetop or microwave, and enjoy!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

What is nalli nihari?

Nalli nihari refers to bones with marrow that stew with the beef shank. The bones provide a richness that deeply flavors the broth. You can suck the marrow out of the bones like my family often does or push it out once it’s cooked and incorporate it with the soup.

What cut of meat do you use for nihari?

Make traditional Pakistani nihari with bone-in beef shank. You can also make it mutton, chicken, or lamb. 

How should I garnish this meal?

Toppings for nihari on a plate.

Topping are a must-have with nihari. Fresh ingredients like fried onion, ginger, lemon wedges, and diced green chilies take the already delicious meal to the next level!

What does Nihari taste like?

The beef is tender and succulent after slow cooking in a buttery, rich masala. Our recipe is mild compared to those served street-side in places like Karahi. However, the warmly spiced broth with gentle heat and filling beef creates a satiating comfort meal you’ll love.

What if this dish is too spicy?

Add 2 tablespoons of butter at the very end to cut some of the heat. You can also reduce the amount of red chili powder or replace it with Kashmiri chili powder.

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Your feedback is valuable – It helps us improve and update our recipes, so we can provide delicious meals you love. Consider leaving a comment or rating below the recipe card, and feel free to share your adaptations or ask any questions. We cannot wait to hear about what you’ve made. 

Nihari on a plate garnished with ginger, onion, and chilis with naan in the background.

Nihari (Pakistani Beef Stew)

Tressa Jamil and Ami
Enjoy our easy nihari recipe made with succulent beef shanks and marrow bones spiced with homemade nihari masala to create a silky and flavorful broth to serve with the meat.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 9 Servings
Calories 575 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Nihari Masala:

  • ½ cup ghee
  • 2 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 4 tablespoons ginger powder
  • tablespoon red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 3 teaspoons turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons fennel, ground
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt

For the Nihari:

  • 3 pounds beef shank, bone-in, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 pound bones, with marrow
  • 4-6 cups water

For the Toppings:

  • 4 inch ginger, minced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 green chilis, finely diced

Instructions
 

For the Stovetop:

  • Heat ghee in a Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion and fry until caramelized and brown, for about 20-25 minutes. Remove half of the onions using a slotted spoon and set them aside. Stir the garlic and ginger into the pot and cook for another minute.
  • Add the coriander powder, ginger powder, red chili powder, cumin, turmeric, fennel, and salt; stir to combine.
  • Rinse the beef shank and bones, and add them to the pot. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the color changes. Then, add 4-6 cups of water (or enough to cover the beef).
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 4 hours.

For the Instant Pot:

  • Heat ghee in an Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the onion and fry until caramelized and brown, for about 20-25 minutes. Remove half of the onions using a slotted spoon and set them aside. Stir the garlic and ginger into the pot and cook for another minute.
  • Add the coriander powder, ginger powder, red chili powder, cumin, turmeric, fennel, and salt; stir to combine.
  • Rinse the beef shank and bones, and add them to the pot. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the color changes. Then, add 4-6 cups of water (or enough to cover the beef).
  • Bring the pot to a boil on saute mode, then secure the lid and set it to manual high pressure for 45 minutes.

Notes

Cooking Tips: 
  • Set aside at least four hours to slow cook the beef for it to become tender.
  • If you prefer thicker nihari, toast 1 cup of atta flour (whole wheat flour or Durum flour) in a skillet. Then, combine it with 1 cup of warm water. Slowly add it to the mixture after the meat is tender.
 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 575kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 63gFat: 28gSodium: 1072mgFiber: 5gSugar: 5g
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
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