easy nihari recipe pakistani beef stew

by easy quick meal
nihari recipe

nihari recipe pakistani beef stew

If you’re a fan of rich, flavorful, and aromatic dishes, then you’re in for a treat! In this article, we’re going to explore the tantalizing world of Nihari, a traditional Pakistani beef stew. From the origins of Nihari to the step-by-step process of making this culinary masterpiece, we’ll cover it all. So, grab your apron and get ready to embark on a delicious journey through the heart of Pakistani cuisine.

Nihari, a name that resonates with every Pakistani, is a slow-cooked, savory beef stew that hails from the streets of Old Delhi, India. This dish has a rich history and is believed to have been a favorite of Mughal emperors. Today, it’s a beloved part of Pakistani culture, especially in Lahore and Karachi.

Ingredients You’ll Need

nihari recipe 
 beef stew

For the Stew:

  1. 1 kg (2.2 lbs) beef, preferably with bone (such as shank or stew meat)
  2. 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  3. 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  5. 2-3 green chilies, chopped (adjust to your spice preference)
  6. 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  7. 2-3 tablespoons Nihari masala powder (readily available in stores or homemade)
  8. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to your spice preference)
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 6-8 cups water

For Garnish:

  1. Fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  2. Fresh ginger, julienned
  3. Fresh green chilies, thinly sliced
  4. Lemon wedges

For Serving:

  1. Naan or roti (flatbread) for serving

Nihari masala is a key spice mix for this recipe. You can either purchase it pre-made or make your own using a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaves. Please follow the specific Nihari masala recipe you have or find in a store to ensure the right balance of flavors for your Nihari stew.

Step-by-Step Cooking (how to make Nihari, a Pakistani beef stew)


Step 1: Preparing the Meat

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil or ghee over medium heat.
  2. Add thinly sliced onions and sauté until they become translucent and start to turn golden brown.
  3. Add minced garlic, ginger, and chopped green chilies. Sauté for another couple of minutes until the raw aroma disappears.

Step 2: Browning the Beef

  1. Add the beef to the pot. You can use bone-in beef for more flavor. Brown the meat on all sides to seal in the juices and add flavor to the stew.

Step 3: Adding Spices

  1. Sprinkle the Nihari masala powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt over the browned meat. Stir well to coat the meat evenly with the spices.

Step 4: Cooking the Stew

  1. Pour in 6-8 cups of water, depending on how thick you want your stew. Stir to combine everything.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer. Nihari is traditionally slow-cooked, so simmer it for 4-6 hours, or until the meat becomes tender and the flavors meld together. You can also use a slow cooker for this step.

Step 5: Garnishing

  1. When the stew is ready, it should be thick and flavorful. Garnish it with freshly chopped coriander leaves, julienned ginger, thinly sliced green chilies, and lemon wedges.

Step 6: Serving

  1. Nihari is traditionally served with naan or roti, which you can warm up and serve on the side. You can also serve it with steamed rice if you prefer.

Enjoy your homemade Nihari, a flavorful and aromatic Pakistani beef stew! It’s a hearty and comforting dish that’s perfect for special occasions or just a delicious meal at home.

tips and tricks to help you make the best Nihari

1. Use Quality Ingredients:

  • Choose high-quality, fresh beef with good marbling. Bone-in cuts, like shank or stew meat, add depth of flavor.
  • Fresh and fragrant spices, especially for the Nihari masala, make a significant difference in taste.

2. Slow Cooking:

  • Nihari is all about slow cooking. Cook it on low heat for an extended period (4-6 hours) to allow the flavors to meld and the meat to become tender.

3. Browning the Meat:

  • Before adding spices and water, ensure you brown the meat well. This step enhances the depth of flavor in the stew.

4. Homemade Nihari Masala:

  • Consider making your Nihari masala from scratch for the freshest and most authentic flavor. Toast and grind your spices if possible.

5. Balance the Spices:

  • Adjust the amount of red chili powder and green chilies to suit your spice tolerance. Nihari should have a good balance of heat without overwhelming the other flavors.

6. Onions:

  • Sauté the onions until they turn golden brown. This caramelization adds a natural sweetness to the dish.

7. Layering Flavors:

  • Layer the spices in steps, first with the sautéed onions, and then when you add the beef. This helps build complex flavors.

8. Garnishes:

  • Don’t skimp on the garnishes. Fresh coriander, ginger, green chilies, and lemon wedges enhance the final dish’s taste and presentation.

9. Fat:

  • Ghee (clarified butter) adds richness to the dish. Use it for a more authentic and flavorful Nihari.

10. Skim the Surface: – While simmering, skim any impurities or excess fat that rise to the surface to maintain a clean and clear broth.

11. Resting Time: – Nihari tastes even better when allowed to sit for a few hours or overnight before reheating and serving. This resting time allows the flavors to meld further.

12. Traditional Serving: – Serve Nihari with fresh, hot naan or roti to enjoy the full experience. The bread is perfect for sopping up the flavorful broth.

13. Experiment: – Feel free to experiment with the recipe. Adjust the spices, the level of broth thickness, and garnishes to match your preferences.

14. Patience: – Nihari is a dish that rewards patience. The slow cooking process and careful attention to details will result in a delicious, authentic Nihari stew.

By following these tips and tricks, you can create a mouthwatering Nihari that’s bursting with flavor and sure to impress your family and guests.

When serving Nihari


the traditional Pakistani beef stew, consider the following suggestions:

1. Naan or Roti: Nihari is typically served with freshly baked naan or roti (flatbread). The soft and fluffy texture of naan or the thin, unleavened roti complements the rich and flavorful stew, making it an ideal accompaniment.

2. Garnishes: Enhance the visual appeal and flavor of your Nihari by adding the following garnishes:

  • Fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped.
  • Julienned fresh ginger to add a zesty kick.
  • Thinly sliced fresh green chilies for some heat.
  • Lemon wedges for a tangy twist.

3. Side Dishes: To complete the meal, consider serving Nihari with some classic side dishes like:

  • Raita: A yogurt-based side dish with herbs and spices, which provides a cooling contrast to the spiciness of Nihari.
  • Salad: A simple cucumber and tomato salad with a drizzle of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

4. Pickles: Adding a small serving of spicy mango or mixed vegetable pickles can provide a delightful, tangy contrast to the rich flavors of Nihari.

5. Chai: Many people enjoy a cup of hot, aromatic chai (tea) as a beverage to accompany their Nihari meal, especially if it’s served for breakfast.

6. Sweets: After a hearty Nihari meal, consider serving traditional Pakistani sweets like gulab jamun, jalebi, or sheer khurma for dessert.

7. Family Style: Nihari is often enjoyed in a communal, family-style setting. Place the pot of Nihari in the center of the table, surrounded by the various accompaniments and let everyone help themselves.

8. Presentation: To make the meal more visually appealing, consider serving Nihari in individual bowls, garnishing each serving with fresh coriander, ginger, green chilies, and a lemon wedge.

By following these serving suggestions, you can create an authentic and enjoyable Nihari dining experience that highlights the delicious flavors and cultural traditions of this beloved Pakistani dish.

What’s the ideal serving time for Nihari?

The ideal serving time for Nihari, a Pakistani beef stew, can vary depending on personal preferences and cultural traditions. Here are a few different times when Nihari is typically enjoyed:

1. Breakfast: Nihari is a popular breakfast dish in Pakistan. It’s often prepared and enjoyed early in the morning, making it a hearty and flavorful start to the day. If you’re looking for an authentic breakfast experience, this is the ideal serving time.

2. Brunch: Nihari can also be served as a brunch option, particularly on weekends when people have more time to prepare and savor this slow-cooked dish.

3. Special Occasions: Nihari is frequently prepared for special occasions and celebrations. In such cases, it’s served as a main dish for lunch or dinner, making it a centerpiece of the meal.

4. Weekday Dinner: While Nihari is traditionally associated with breakfast, many people enjoy it as a fulfilling dinner option, especially if they’ve been slow-cooking it throughout the day.

5. Late-Night Supper: Some individuals relish Nihari as a late-night supper due to its comforting and aromatic qualities. It’s an excellent choice for a cozy, late-night meal.

In summary, Nihari can be served at different times of the day, and the ideal serving time depends on your personal preferences and the occasion. Whether you choose to enjoy it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or a late-night meal, the rich and flavorful nature of Nihari makes it a versatile dish that can be savored at various times.

Can I use chicken instead of beef in Nihari?


you can use chicken instead of beef to make chicken Nihari. While beef is the traditional choice for Nihari, chicken offers a lighter and quicker-cooking alternative. Here’s how you can adapt the recipe for chicken Nihari:

Ingredients for Chicken Nihari:

  1. Chicken pieces (bone-in or boneless), about 1 kg (2.2 lbs).
  2. Onions, garlic, ginger, green chilies, and spices (similar to the beef Nihari recipe).
  3. Cooking oil or ghee for sautéing.
  4. Nihari masala powder or homemade Nihari spice mix.
  5. Water for the broth.
  6. Garnishes such as fresh coriander, ginger, green chilies, and lemon wedges.
  7. Naan or roti for serving.

Instructions for Chicken Nihari:

  1. Follow the same initial steps for sautéing onions, garlic, ginger, and green chilies in oil or ghee as you would for beef Nihari.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and sauté until they turn white and are lightly browned.
  3. Add the Nihari masala, turmeric, red chili powder, and salt to the chicken. Stir well to coat the chicken evenly with the spices.
  4. Pour in enough water to cover the chicken pieces. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
  5. Simmer the chicken Nihari for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Chicken cooks faster than beef, so it requires less cooking time.
  6. Garnish the chicken Nihari with fresh coriander, ginger, green chilies, and lemon wedges.
  7. Serve it hot with naan or roti.

Keep in mind that the cooking time and the overall flavor of chicken Nihari will be different from beef Nihari, as chicken has a milder taste. However, it’s a delicious alternative, and it’s perfect for those who prefer poultry over red meat or for a quicker meal option.

Why Nihari Recipe Pakistani Beef Stew is a Must-Try

  1. Rich and Hearty Flavor: Nihari is renowned for its rich, complex, and aromatic flavor profile. The slow cooking process allows the spices to infuse into the tender beef, creating a savory and satisfying stew that is bursting with taste.
  2. Cultural Experience: Trying Nihari provides an opportunity to delve into Pakistan’s rich culinary heritage. It’s a dish deeply embedded in Pakistani culture and is often enjoyed as a special meal, particularly during breakfast or on lazy weekend mornings.
  3. Aromatic Spices: The blend of spices used in Nihari, including Nihari masala, brings a unique and irresistible aroma to the dish. The warm and fragrant spices like cumin, coriander, and cardamom add a delightful depth of flavor.
  4. Comfort Food: Nihari is the epitome of comfort food. Its hearty and warming nature makes it an ideal choice for chilly days or when you’re looking for a comforting meal that soothes the soul.
  5. Customizable Heat: You can adjust the level of spiciness in Nihari to suit your taste. Whether you prefer it mild or fiery hot, the choice is yours, making it a versatile dish that can cater to various palates.
  6. Garnishing Galore: The garnishes for Nihari, such as fresh coriander, julienned ginger, and lemon wedges, add a delightful freshness and balance to the rich stew. They not only enhance the flavor but also make the dish visually appealing.
  7. Tradition and Celebration: Nihari is often prepared on special occasions and during festive celebrations in Pakistan. By trying this dish, you can partake in the cultural and culinary traditions of the region.
  8. Versatile Serving Options: While Nihari is traditionally served with naan or roti, you can also enjoy it with rice or even crusty bread, making it suitable for various meal preferences.
  9. Homemade Delight: Preparing Nihari from scratch is a rewarding cooking experience. The slow cooking process allows you to savor the anticipation of a delicious meal while it simmers to perfection.

Overall, Nihari is a dish that tantalizes the taste buds and offers a unique cultural and culinary experience. Whether you’re a fan of Pakistani cuisine or simply looking to explore new flavors, Nihari is undoubtedly a must-try dish for its taste, tradition, and the warmth it brings to the table.

In the world of Pakistani cuisine, Nihari stands as a shining star. Its rich history, complex flavors, and cultural significance make it a dish worth trying. So, don your chef’s hat, follow our Nihari recipe, and savor this beloved Pakistani beef stew.


  • Q: How long does it take to cook Nihari?
  • A: Nihari is a slow-cooked dish that can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours to prepare.
  • Q: Can I freeze Nihari?
  • A: Yes, you can freeze Nihari for future consumption. Just ensure it’s in an airtight container.
  • Q: Is Nihari very spicy?
  • A: The spice level in Nihari can be adjusted to your taste. Traditionally, it’s moderately spicy.
  • Q: Can I make a vegetarian version of Nihari?
  • A: While Nihari is traditionally a meat-based dish, you can certainly experiment with a vegetarian version using ingredients like mushrooms, paneer, or tofu. Keep in mind that the cooking process and flavors will be different.
  • Q: Are there regional variations of Nihari in Pakistan?
  • A: Yes, different regions of Pakistan may have their own variations of Nihari. For example, Karachi’s Nihari might have a distinct taste compared to Lahore’s. These variations often depend on local spices and cooking methods.

You Might Be Interested In

nihari recipe

Pakistani Nihari recipe

Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 400 calories 20g fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


For the Nihari Spice Mix:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 4-5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 2 inches long)
  • 2-3 dried red chilies (adjust to your spice preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the Nihari:

  • 2 pounds (about 1 kg) beef or mutton, bone-in
  • 1/2 cup oil or ghee
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt (adjust to taste)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour (for thickening)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Nihari spice mix (from above)
  • 2-3 green chilies, chopped
  • Fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Lemon wedges
  • Ginger juliennes


1. Prepare the Nihari Spice Mix:

  • Dry roast all the whole spices (coriander, cumin, fennel, black peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and dried red chilies) in a pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them.
  • Let the roasted spices cool, then grind them into a fine powder.
  • Mix in the nutmeg powder, mace powder, ginger powder, and garlic powder. Set aside the spice mix.

2. Cooking the Meat:

  • Heat the oil or ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Add the thinly sliced onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for a few minutes until the raw smell disappears.
  • Add the meat and sear it until it changes color.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of the Nihari spice mix (adjust to your taste) and salt. Cook for a couple of minutes.

3. Slow Cooking:

  • Pour in enough water (about 6-8 cups) to cover the meat.
  • Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
  • Let it simmer for several hours (4-6 hours) until the meat is tender and the flavors are well-developed. Check and add more water if needed.

4. Thicken the Nihari:

  • Mix the wheat flour with some water to form a smooth paste.
  • Gradually add this paste to the simmering Nihari while continuously stirring.
  • Cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the Nihari thickens to your desired consistency.

5. Serving:

  • Serve the Nihari hot, garnished with chopped green chilies, fresh coriander leaves, lemon wedges, and ginger juliennes.
  • Traditionally, Nihari is enjoyed with naan or paratha.


1. Slow Cooking for Flavor: Nihari is known for its rich and deep flavors, which develop through slow cooking. Be patient and simmer the meat for several hours (4-6 hours) on low heat to ensure that it becomes tender and absorbs the spices. The longer you cook it, the better the flavors will be. 2. Adjust Spice Level: The spice mix mentioned in the recipe can be quite spicy, so adjust it to your taste. You can start with a smaller amount and add more if you prefer it spicier. Remember that Nihari should have a balance of flavors, including a pleasant heat from the spices. 3. Traditional Accompaniments: Nihari is traditionally served with naan or paratha. You can also serve it with steamed rice if you prefer. Don't forget to garnish it with green chilies, fresh coriander leaves, lemon wedges, and ginger juliennes for an authentic touch. These garnishes add a burst of freshness and contrast to the rich flavors of the dish.

"Did you whip up this recipe?"
How did your attempts at the recipes go? Tag me on Instagram at @easyquickmeal.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.