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-

 

 

Nihari

Yield: 4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Crispy Honey Chicken

It’s the 10th and that means time to share the results of another Muslim Food Bloggers Challenge! I really look forward to these challenges because it gives me a chance to cook or bake with a goal in mind. This month’s challenge was to use honey as one of the main ingredients in a dish.

When it was announced that honey was going to be our star ingredient, the first (and second, and third, and fourth 😉 ) thought that came to my mind was to make a dessert. After all, honey is used as a sweetener, so dessert should naturally be the choice. Before I went ahead and got a chance to make a dessert, I happened upon this recipe and I suddenly had a lightbulb moment- why am I restricting myself to just desserts? Why not think outside the box?

This recipe is amazing, and it reminds me of Asian takeout we’ve enjoyed in the past.  It’s easy, and comes together fast; just be sure to have everything ready before you start, because it goes fast!

To see what everyone else is cooking (or baking!) up with honey this month, check it all out here:

 

 

Crispy Honey Chicken

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

For Chicken:

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • Oil, as needed, to deep fry

For Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • Red pepper flakes, as needed, optional

Directions:

Prepare Chicken:

In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and onion powder. Mix well and set aside.

Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl and set aside.

Toss the chicken in the flour mixture. Dip each piece into the buttermilk, and then dredge once again in flour mixture. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken in batches until cooked through and crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Prepare Sauce:

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Set aside.

Heat a large vessel over medium heat. Mix together honey, remaining 2 tablespoons water, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes (if using). Once it comes to a boil, slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes (if sauce seems to be too thick, add a few splashes of water). Remove from heat.

Add cooked chicken to sauce, and mix well so that it is evenly covered in the sauce.

Serve over white or brown rice.

Brown Lentil Daal / Sabut Masoor Daal

One of my goals for this year, in terms of blogging, was to share more traditional Pakistani fare and to share more of what we eat on a regular basis.  I have always had a hard time photographing Desi (hailing from the South Asian Subcontinent) food, and I guess I’ve allowed it to be the reason why I didn’t share much of it.  It’s funny because we eat more Desi food than any other cuisine at home, but this little virtual space doesn’t reflect that.  I hope to change that in the coming months.

As for the recipe I am sharing today, Daal translates to lentils, and there are literally hundreds of variations of soupy curries that can be made with these humble pulses.  This Daal is one that I make on a weekly basis.  It screams comfort and is homely.  It’s simple, filling, nutritious, and delicious. It’s great piled on rice, with some yogurt and sliced onions on the side.  Consider it Desi comfort food 🙂

 

 

Sabut Masoor Daal

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

Note: measurements are in actual measuring spoons/cups and not eating utensils.

  • 4 – 6 cups water
  • 1 cup brown lentils/ sabut masoor daal
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Handful mint leave, chopped, optional

Directions:

In a large vessel, combine water, lentils, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, and red chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until lentils are softened and water has significantly evaporated, about 45 to 60 minutes. Be sure to check on daal often, stirring and adding extra water as needed.

Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to pulse daal to desired consistency. Add salt and keep covered.

Warm oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and cook, while stirring often, until they start to show signs of browning. Add cumin seeds and cook until the onions are golden brown. Pour oil and onion mixture (tempering) over the daal, and let it sit undisturbed, and covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. If using mint, stir it in to the daal, and let it sit covered, and undisturbed, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Ground Beef Taco Filling

Growing up in California, my family and I were fond lovers of Mexican and Tex-Mex food. Homemade tacos and burritos were common dinner staples, and going out to Mexican restaurants was routine. My Ohio born-and-bred-son seems to have inherited his momma’s California genes, as he’s a complete taco lover! He looks forward to Taco Nights, and loves to customize his plate with his favorite fillings and toppings.

This recipe is a basic one for a ground beef taco or burrito. Use it as you please. I picked it up from Mel’s Kitchen Café.

 

 

Ground Beef Taco Filling

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (or one 8-ounce can) tomato sauce
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced, optional

Directions:

Heat a large vessel over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion. Cook, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for a minute, then add the tomato sauce and jalapeno (if using). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of the liquid has dried up, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve as desired.

Minced Meat and Lentil Biryani / Keema Masoor Biryani (Memon Masoor Pulao)

2 posts in one week? Whaaaat?

Well, this is my first shot at the Muslim Food Bloggers Challenges. Every month there is a new theme, and the month of February’s was Biryani. Biryani is basically just a spiced rice dish (often times paired with meat). In the South Asian culinary scene, the difference between Biryani and Pulao is that biryani is cooked in layers (the rice is par-boiled and then layered with the meat/masala), whereas in pulao the rice is cooked with the spices in a broth.

I chose to share the recipe for a very traditional Memon (the sub-ethnic group that I hail from) recipe, Masoor Pulao. It’s a bit of a misnomer because although it is called a pulao, it’s actually cooked in layers like biryani.

I’m excited to share this recipe for several reasons, but mostly because (a) I’ve always had trouble taking pictures of traditional Pakistani food, and I’m ready to take the plunge, and (b) it’s a recipe that has been passed down in our family, and I’m happy to finally be sharing it with actual measurements (y’all know how much trouble it is to find a desi recipe using actual measurements and not “a little this, a little that”!)

Enjoy!

keemamasoorbiryanipic

Keema Masoor Biryani

(Memon Masoor Pulao)

Yield: 4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients:

Note: Measurements are in actual measuring spoons/cups and not eating utensils.

  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 2/3 cup brown lentils
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup neutral flavored oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1-2 green chilies, to taste, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppers
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • Handful chopped mint
  • Handful fried onions
  • 3 boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half

Directions:

Rinse rice in cold water a few times, cover with water, and set aside.

Heat a small saucepan filled with water over medium-high heat. Add lentils and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until mostly cooked through (should not be mushy; there should still be a bit of bite to the lentils, as they will continue cooking with the rice later). Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add meat and ginger-garlic paste and cook for a few minutes. Add chilies, coriander powder, black pepper, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric, salt, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add yogurt, mix well, and cook until mostly dry. Add lentils, mix, cover, and remove from heat. Set aside.

Heat water (enough to boil rice in) in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add black peppers, bay leaves, and salt. Once it comes to a boil, add soaked rice (drain before adding), and cook until about 75% cooked through. Drain and set aside.

In a large vessel, drizzle in a bit of oil. Top with half of the rice, followed by the meat and lentil mixture. Top with cilantro, mint, and fried onions. Cover with remaining rice. Sprinkle on additional fried onions, and gently place the boiled eggs on top. Cover. Cook over low heat until the rice has finished cooking, about 30 minutes.

 

 

Check out everyone’s interpretations and adaptations of this month’s challenge below!