Nihari (Muslim Indian Beef Stew)
Beef shanks or brisket may be substituted for short ribs in this version of a long-cooked Muslim Indian beef stew, a luscious dish traditionally cooked with trotters, which thicken the sauce. The recipe is adapted from Charmaine O’Brien’s Recipes from an Urban Village: A Cookbook from Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti (The Hope Project, 2003), a book highlighting the cooking of an ancient Delhi enclave. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our August/September 2014 special India issue.
- 3 lb. beef short ribs (about 6 pieces)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 tbsp. roasted chana dal (yellow split peas)
- 1⁄2 cup ghee
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 (15-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
- 3 tbsp. besan (chickpea flour), mixed with 3 tbsp. water
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. garam masala
- 2 tsp. red chile powder, preferably Kashmiri or cayenne
- Naan bread, for serving (optional)
- Season beef with salt; set aside. Grind split peas into a powder using a spice grinder, set aside. Melt ghee in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until caramelized, 12–14 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onion to a blender. Add garlic, tomatoes, and 1 cup water; purée until smooth and set aside.
- Return pan to medium-high heat. Cook beef, turning as needed, until browned, 4–6 minutes. Add reserved split pea powder and onion mixture, the yogurt, besan mixture, garam masala, and chile powder; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is very tender, 3–3 1⁄2 hours. Using tongs, transfer beef to a cutting board and let cool slightly; discard bones, shred beef, and return to pan. Serve with naan bread on the side, if you like.