Nihari was introduced to me in 2006, in a small but very popular eatery by the name Ravi in Dubai (pronounced as RAAAVI, with the stress on the A's). I believe this restaurant has been named in few tourist bibles too. The restaurants serves some awesome Pakistani dishes. I was invited by a very close friend to join for breakfast and at 8am, we sit down and I hear my friend order strange named dishes (strange then). In no time there was almost a buffet laid on our table and the mere sight of those delicious dishes could make anyone drool. I was from cornflakes and oats cult back then, so I was more like, are we early for lunch? I was mocked and said that's Pakistani breakfast! I knew there was no way out so best was to try to have a compromise with my intestine to work a bit extra on that weekend
One of the dishes was Nihari served warm Barbari Naan which is an Afghani Naan. First bite and I had no idea what happened to my taste buds! it was a blast of flavors, Soft succulent mutton pieces melted even before I could devour it. Light tangy gravy was an instant hit. Little did I know I had already finished up two giant barbari and was on the way for third.
Looking at my drool look, my friend invited me home the following weekend for home cooked Nihari and Haleem. Thats when I knew the reason behind it being so delicious - the sheer amount of labor involved in making the dish what it tastes like. Now the history of Nihari comes from the Mughals kitchen and its popularly made in the Northern part of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. I am sure each has own variations
Since I had slept with a thought of Mughal breakfast for my weekend, I had to wake up and make mutton nihari in a bit easier way to be called as brunch
So lets gets Nihari rolling!
1kg boneless mutton (you may use bone in)
Two medium Onions sliced and browned
04 tablespoons of oil
half inch ginger julienne
04 green chilies chopped
Packet of Nihari spice mix (easily available off the shelf)
1 - Add oil in a heavy bottomed pot. I used pressure cooked. turn on the heat and once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions, drizzle some salt and fry until they are brown and crisp. Off on a paper towel
2 - In the same oil, add the mutton pieces and brown them (approx 3-4minutes)
3 - Add the spice mix and roast for about a minute
4 - Next, add 1.5litres of room temperature water and cook on high for 10mins.
5 - lower the flame, cover the pot (not pressure lid), and slow cook for next one hour 50 minutes (YES)
6 - Keep giving a stir in between.
7 - Water will gradually reduce and the mutton will start melting. Note that we don't have to overcook and the pieces should hold shape. Slow cooking cooks through well and retains the shape too
8 - when you are 30mins left to finish the slow cooking time, add the fried onions, half of the julienne ginger, half of chopped green chilies, and give a mix
9 - Make a slurry paste of jowar flour (you may use wheat or maida too) in half cup water and add this to the Nihari when you have 15mins left. I had used boneless mutton so I didn't have to remove bone before adding the jowar slurry. If you using bone in then, remove the bones and then add the slurry paste. If you like to keep the bone, then its still fine
10 - Turn off the flame, heat some ghee in another pan, add couple of tablespoons of the juices from the nihari, mix and then add to the nihari again. Mix and let it sit for 5mins
11 - garnish with left over ginger and chopped chilies before serving