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Nalli Nihari

Nalli Nihari is a breakfast dish, consisting of lamb shanks slow cooked until they are so tender and fall off the bone. This classic dish was introduced by the Mughals and is very popular in India, Pakistan and some Arab countries.

Nihari is a very hearty breakfast dish.But for me it can be brunch or lunch. Fat from the shanks and the bone marrow cooked for nearly two hours has a fantastic rich flavour and taste.Years ago, when I was introduced to Nihari over breakfast, I had no idea I would be so in love with it. ;) The preparation isn’t a tedious chore, but yes the slow cooking for hours can make one feel so.The 2hrs of slow cooking passes just like 20mins and the end result is totally worth it. :)

One may also use a pressure cooker to cut short the cooking time but there might be some difference as to how it tastes in the end.

Beef or goat, boneless or bone in, is also an option too. And for folks who don’t eat red meat, there is chicken too. Just don’t try the veg version. For veg there is always Khichdi. 😁

I have included home made nihari masala recipe and it is pretty straight forward. You might make more and store for future use.

Happy to share my way of making Nalli Nihari 😊


  • 680gm lamb shanks (cut into pieces or keep whole)

  • One big onion finely chopped

  • 1TB ginger garlic paste

  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder

  • 1TB Kashmiri chili powder

  • 2TB + 1/2TB nihari masala

  • 2TB ghee + 1TB canola oil

  • 3TB yoghurt (whisked)

  • Salt as per taste

  • 1TB flour for slurry

  • Julienned ginger (garnish)

  • Chopped chilies for garnish

  • One lemon

Nihari masala ingredients (grind all the below to a fine powder)

  • 1TB cumin seeds

  • 1/2TB caraway seeds (shahi jeera)

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

  • 1 tsp ginger powder (add after masala is ground)

  • 1 inch cinnamon stick

  • 1 black cardamom

  • 4 green cardamom

  • 4 cloves

  • 2 small bay leaf

  • 4-5 white peppercorn (optional)

  • 8 black peppercorns

  • 1/4 piece of nutmeg

  • 2 star anise

  • 2 small mace


1 - Marinate lamb shanks with ginger garlic paste and salt for 15mins.

2 - In a heavy bottom vessel, add one tablespoons ghee and one tablespoon canola oil. Once heated, tip in onions and fry until they start to turn light brown.

2 - Add marinated shanks and on high flame, fry until the raw smell from ginger garlic is off.

3 - Add turmeric powder, Kashmiri chili powder, coriander powder and 2TB nihari masala. Fry for couple of minutes. If too dry, splash water and fry.

4 - Add whisked yoghurt and fry well. Keep frying for 3-4 minutes. Add 3-4 tbsp water and continue frying masala.

5 - when Masala turns dry and oil starts to leave edges, add 2-3 TB water and continue frying. Repeat this frying process two more times.

6 - Now add 1.2ltr hot water or water enough to cover the top of shanks and cover and cook for 30min.

7 - Add another 300ml hot water and lower the flame and cook covered for 70min ( stir occasionally)

8 - The water would have evaporated quite a bit by now.

9 - Add 3tb water to the flour and make a slurry. Add to the nihari and cook for 20min

10 - just before 5mins left for the cooking cycle to get over, add 1TB ghee, 1/2TB nihari masala and then finish the time.

11 - Switch off, squeeze juice of half lemon. Mix. Cover and let it sit for 15mins before garnishing with chillies and ginger.

*do check the doneness of meat before you add slurry* if you need to cook more you may do so, then add the slurry.

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