Pakistani Slow Cooked Beef Stew – Nihari

Here we are yet again, on the 10th day of this month, which means it is reveal day for the Muslim Food Bloggers Challenges! This month’s challenge was to use meat as the star of our dish, as Eid al Adha is coming upon us. The challenge asked that we aim to use mutton as the meat of choice, however I used beef because mutton is not eaten in our home (although you can totally swap out beef for mutton in this recipe!).

I chose to make Nihari, a traditional Pakistani/North Indian delicacy that is a spicy slow cooked stew. Nihari is a dish that has eluded me ever since I started cooking seriously. I know I could just throw it together easily with a packet of ready-made Shan masala, but I’ve been wanting to learn how to make it at home from scratch.

I stumbled upon this recipe by Food Fusion, and decided to adapt it to personal tastes.

You guys, this is the real deal. The Nihari secret is out, and now you can wow even the toughest critics with this amazing from-scratch Nihari!

Quick note- I mention the use of a banana pepper towards the end of the recipe. Although it can easily be replaced with a regular green chili, I highly recommend using it as it imparts an amazing flavor into the Nihari. It is my mother in-laws secret, which isn’t so much of a secret anymore 😉

Thank you once again to the lovely group of ladies who organize these challenges month after month! I look forward to when the challenges are announces, and wait excitedly until reveal day 🙂 Be sure to check out all the yummies everyone shared for this month’s challenge by clicking on the link below-




Yield: 4 – 6 Servings


For Nihari Spice Mix:

  • ¼ cup fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppers
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
  • ¼ – ½ piece nutmeg
  • 1 small piece mace
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 1-inch pieces cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 black cardamoms
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

For Nihari:

  • 1 ½ – 2 pounds beef, cut into large cubes
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • ¾ cup Nihari spice blend
  • Salt, as needed.
  • 1 banana pepper or jalapeno (or desired amount of green chillies)

For Tempering/ Bhagaar:

  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (½ if onion is large)

For Garnish:

  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • Fried onions
  • Lemon or lime juice


Make Nihari Spice Blend:

Combine fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppers, cloves, ginger powder, nutmeg, mace, star anise, cinnamon, bay leave, black cardamoms, and cardamoms in the jar of a spice grinder. Grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and add coriander powder, red chili powder, paprika, and turmeric. Mix well and set aside.

Make Nihari:

In a small bowl, combine wheat flour and water. Whisk until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium high heat. Add meat and cook, stirring along, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add ginger-garlic paste, mix, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add Nihari spice blend and salt, and mix well. Add enough water to cover the meat by a couple of inches, about 6 to 8 cups. Add the flour and water mixture, stir, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 1 ½ to 3 hours, stirring intermittently, until the meat is cooked through and falling apart and desired consistency has been reached.

Add green chillies and reduce heat to low.

Make Tempering/ Bhagaar:

Heat oil in a small pan over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until golden brown, stirring often. Once onions have turned golden, carefully pour the mixture over the Nihari and cover. Cook over low heat for ten minutes. Remove from heat and serve with desired garnishes.


Note: Extra Nihari Spice Blend may be stored at room temperature for use at a later time.


17 responses

  1. The thing I love most about your recipes is that you don’t use store bought spice blends! I can’t wait to make this Nihari recipe. I’ve had such great luck with your recipes and recommend your blog to everyone.

  2. My goodness that is a list of spices!! I think a field trip to Staple and Spice is in order this weekend. I have got to at least experience what some of these smell like. One question for you, how spicy hot is this dish one scale from 1 – 10? Having so little experience with Pakistani cusine, I am curious.😄 It sure looks wonderful!

    • You’re absolutely right Kathy, it is a HUGE list of spices! This dish is considered a very traditional delicacy, and over the years many cooks have begun to turn to premade boxed spice mixes. Although it’s a great option to have, it’s not necessarily the healthiest. The boxed mixes are loaded with sodium and MSG, both whose excesses we should avoid.
      As for the spice level, I would give it a 9 (I have a tolerance for spice, but nothing too crazy 😉 ). I would suggest that you start with half the quantity of red chilies listed, and then add more at the end of you feel it is lacking 🙂

      • Thank you for the quick lesson and advice-much appreciated! I am excited to check out all these different spices and if I give this a try, I’ll be sure to let you know!

  3. Nihari! one dish I actually grew to like than at first time. First time I was not able to make my mind, it had a very overpowering flavour and I didn’t even know it had to be consumed with raw ginger and coriander leaves – which btw helps in digestion and prevents heart burns etc.. so I had a bad time but when I got to start liking it and eating it the right way – I am so drawn to making this soon. Like you said, I always make my own spice blend for everything… and that is why I haven’t been able to use the nihari spice masala (National) that I picked almost a year or two ago. Guess it must be expired too. LOL. I am so glad you shared this secret recipe and now I am feeling more confident to try this… We too are hardcore beef eaters and mutton makes way occasionally… Btw, the next challenge theme is up on the group! 🙂

    • I used to hate Nihari when I was a child, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to enjoy the nuanced flavors. Thank you so much for your feedback!
      I saw the new challenge and am pleasantly surprised 😉 I’m very excited and looking forward to sharing and seeing what everyone else is making!

  4. Hi naan ninja.
    I’m a big fan of your cooking recipes. I’m a Pakistani and of course nahari is one of my favourites but I never had a chance to make it by myself but this recipe of yours urged me to try it and it came out well.The credit truly goes to you. Thanks alot dear ninja.😊😘👍

  5. Thats so thoughtful of you to give the whole list of nihari masala powder. Nihari is a traditional delicacy and this authentic curry is cooked for hours. It becomes more easy with your recipe to attempt it at home. Lovely photos and good presentation.

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