I had nihari for the first time at our one local Pakistani restaurant, which is pretty hit or miss. I don’t know why we go there other than it’s the one local Pakistani restaurant. My thought: this is pot roast. Despite the lukewarm first impression, it says something about my life now that when I think comfort food I think nihari. The restaurant version didn’t do this dish justice; done well, it is warm, flavorful, and comforting. Just standing in the fragrant kitchen while it cooked made me feel peaceful. This is officially a Sunday dinner.
1 lb stew beef
salt & pepper
1/2 c yogurt
1 onion, sliced
2 tbsp ghee or oil
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp tumeric
generous pinch nutmeg
2 bay leaves
(secret non-authentic ingredient alert!) 2 dried New Mexico chilis
2-3 c water
2 tbsp cornstarch
Garnish: cilantro or parsley, thinly sliced ginger, slices of lime
Season beef with salt and pepper, and marinate in yogurt for an hour or two.
Heat oil or ghee, add cinnamon, cardamom, and onions. Fry until onions are translucent. Add garlic, ginger, and ground spices (fennel, garam masala, cayenne, tumeric, and nutmeg) and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add bay leafs, dried chilies, and water. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until meat is very tender. When beef is ready, stir cornstarch into a little water and add to pot. Stir until sauce is thickened. Fish out the chilis and cinnamon stick.
Serve, garnished, with warm naan or roti.
Side note: Homemade roti! Homemade roti! I get so excited when any homemade bread comes out nice, especially when I don’t have the right flour and I’m winging it.