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Nihari slow cooked gluten free lamb meat garam masala stew

Nihari: Pakistani Slow Cooked Spiced Lamb

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  • Author: Noreen
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 lb bone-in tender lamb cut (shank works well)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, butter or other cooking fat
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly or diced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 of spice mix (see below)
  • 23 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 45 cups water

Spice Mix

  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Garnish (All Optional, but Tasty!)

  • Diced raw onions
  • Fresh coriander
  • Finely sliced green chilis
  • Fried onions
  • Pinches of garam masala powder
  • Leftover spice mix


Stage 1 – Pre-sear Lamb

  1. Place a Dutch oven (on Amazon) or heavy-bottomed stockpot over a medium-high heat
  2. Add in your cooking fat (oil and/or ghee) into the stockpot as it heats up, and once it’s piping hot, place in your cut of lamb
  3. Sear your lamb evenly for 5 minutes on each side. If it helps to create an even sear, you can flip your lamb liberally, but be sure to allot the same amount of time to get each side to a light brown color

Stage 2 – Spice and Submerge Lamb

  1. As your lamb is searing, combine a 1/2 cup water with your turmeric, ground coriander, ground ginger, chili powder, black pepper, and garam marsala powder. Mix it well together until you create a spiced slurry
  2. Pour this slurry over your searing lamb, and let the liquid come to a boil. After a minute, flip your lamb and mix the other side around in the spices as well
  3. Once you feel the lamb is well coated in spices, mix another 1 1/2 cup of water with your rice flour in the same bowl as the slurry to create another flour-based slurry
  4. Pour this slurry over the lamb, and mix it well in with the rest of the pot

Stage 3 – Add Spice Mix

  1. Take all the seeds and ingredients from your spice mixture and combine them in a blender or coffee grinder. Pulse the blender until you’ve got a nice, powdery and fragrant spice mix akin to a garam masala
  2. Sprinkle 1/3 of your spice mixture into the pot of simmering lamb (maybe even some directly on the lamb), then add in your bay leaves and 2-3 cups of water to fully submerge the meat
  3. Whisk and mix the water and spice slurries well together, let the water come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it continue to simmer

Stage 4 – Simmer Onions and Finish Nihari

  1. In a separate pan, take a dollop of olive oil over medium-high heat and add in your onions
  2. Fry your onions for 3-4 minutes as they start to soften, then add in another 1/3 of your blended spice mixture from before
  3. Fry your onions for another 4-5 minutes, then add 2/3 of them into the pot of simmering lamb and stir well
  4. Simmer your lamb pot uncovered for 3 hours, stirring occasionally to keep things from sticking to the bottom. Over time, the sauce will reduce and thicken greatly
  5. With the lamb cooked and sauce thickened, take your nihari off the heat and serve.

Garnish generously with your leftover onions, spice mix, chili peppers and so much more, then serve with rice or naan or chapati, and enjoy!

  • Prep Time: 195 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min