Pakistani Beef Stew (Nihari)

Nihari Pakistani Beef Stew
Nihari with Garlic Naan

One of my sons saw a YouTube video of someone making this dish and asked me to make it. I love it when my kids are interested in food we haven’t tried. I love cooking new things and it is even more fun when I know someone really wants to try the dish. Nihari, or Pakistani beef stew, is made from tender cubes of beef in a thick, rich broth. It is served with garam masala, crispy onions, julienned ginger, lemon, cilantro, and chili pepper as toppings. I also served garlic naan and spinach with it. See my recipe for garlic naan at home here.

The internet says that the name nihari originates from Arabic nahâr (نهار), meaning “morning”; it was originally eaten by nawabs in the Mughal Empire as a breakfast course. Sounds like a good breakfast to me. 🙂

This dish is easy to prepare, but it does take some specialized ingredients. They are all available on amazon and I have links here to these:

Before starting this recipe, you need to prepare the Nihari Masala powder that is used to season the broth. You can use either a spice grinder, or a mortar and pestle to grind these. You could also use just ground spices if you can find all of them already ground. I had a lot of these ingredients already, so I used a spice grinder to make the powder. The powder is a mix of Kashmiri chili powder, cardamom seeds (or you can use ground) , mace (or a pinch of nutmeg), peepli, fennel seed, garam masala, ground ginger, onion powder, caraway seeds, and nigella seeds.

Nihari Masala
Nihari Masala Spices

This dish takes about 4-5 hours to cook, so you need to start early. You can let the stew cook on the stove top or in a 300 degree oven. I prefer the oven because it is more hands off. The atta flour is used near the end of cooking to thicken the stew.

Pakistani Beef Stew (Nihari)

Tender beef in flavorful thick broth with lots of spices and onions
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 spice grinder or mortar and pestle


For the nihari masala:

  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili
  • 1 cardamom pod (just the seeds from inside) or 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp mace or nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 inch peepli
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/8 tsp nigella seeds
  • pinch sugar

For the stew:

  • 1 star anise
  • 1 1 inch piece cinnamon stick or 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp corriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • ground black pepper and salt
  • all of the nihari masala you made
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger chopped
  • 8 cups water appox
  • 2 lbs beef shank, chuck, or stew meat cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup atta flour

To serve:

  • garam masala
  • crispy fried onions
  • julienned ginger
  • lemon wedges
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped jalapeno or other hot chile
  • naan or other bread optional
  • rice optional


To make the nihari masala:

  • Place all ingredients in spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind into powder.

To make the stew:

  • Heat oven to 300. In a large oven safe dutch oven, heat 1/3 cup of oil Add the onions and whole spices over med high heat and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are browned. About 10 minutes.
  • Add the cut up beef and cook until it browned on all sides. Then add the ginger/garlic and ground spices and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cover and either lower heat to low, or move to the oven.
  • Cook for 3-4 hours until the meat is falling apart tender when pushed on with a spoon.
  • Take 1 cup of liquid out. Put the atta in a heat safe bowl. Slowly whisk the liquid into atta to form a slurry. Slowly add this slurry to the stew while whisking to prevent lumps. If the stew is too thick you can add some more water. Return to the heat and cook another 30-45 min while you cook the rice and naan.
  • Serve with all the garnishes at the table so everyone can top their stew.
Keyword Beef, Main Dish, Soup

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