Friday, October 7, 2011

Chicken Nihari

A very quick post before the start of a very busy Thanksgiving weekend!

Nihari is a very popular meat dish in the Indian subcontinent. It is known for its spiciness and taste. I remember growing up, the Muslim neighbors and friends would make Inhere for their early morning breakfast during Ramadan and after the Qurbani, the leg bones and shanks of either goat or beef being cooked in huge "Degs"(pots) till the meat would fall off the bones. The richness and the color of the sauce is still fresh in my mind. I still remember how big of a production Nihari making used to be! With no ovens, no microwaves, nothing fancy like that available, it used to be left cooking overnight sometimes depending on the size of the bones. The aroma of tempering of lightly fried red chilies in ghee is still treasured in my brain's aromatic compartment. The stew, garnished with fresh cilantro, julienned ginger, lemon slices - would be eaten with freshly made naans or parathas with sliced white radishes and red onions. Just a mere thought of this has transported me back to the streets of old city of Ahmadabad!
Traditional Nihari recipes that call for almost 8 hours of cooking time, in addition to the preps of the ingredients is highly uncalled for these days. With the availability of all the electric gadgets in the kitchen and more tender cuts of meats instead of tough bones, it is no longer a production. It is now something we can make as a busy week night dinner. It is that simplified. And you can use any meat or vegetable you would like, no need to use beef or goat bones if you don't eat them or can't get them. I prefer to make it with chicken so this is my version of traditional Nihari.

Chicken Nihari
1 lb boneless chicken, cubed
1 cup tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt to taste
2-3 cups chicken broth

For stew:
2 medium onions
1/2 cup oil
Salt to taste
Ginger and garlic paste to taste
Cinnamon, cloves, pepper corns, bay leafs, big cardamom---everything whole
2-3 pods of green cardamom, seeds crushed
Red chili powder
Turmeric powder
Cumin powder--- all to taste

How to:
Crush the onions with whole spices with little bit of water.
Cook the paste in oil till it's golden brown.
Add rest of the spices, tomato puree and paste, ginger garlic paste and cook till the oil leaves the sides of the pot.
Now add chicken pieces and cook on medium heat till chicken is no longer pink or until 4-5 minutes.
Add broth to the stew till preferred consistency, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro, julienned ginger, almond slivers(all optional) and serve.

It is best eaten with rotis or naans but for a change, I made this quick veggie rice to incorporate some greens in the dish. So perfect for the cold Autumn weather!


  1. Never had this chicken nihari,looks super delicious,thanks for sharing..

  2. a new recipe to me, looks very delicious and flavourful..great combo with rice..

  3. It's looks so good, surely try stew.