Nihari (Muslim Indian Beef Stew)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


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)
  • 12 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 12 tbsp. garam masala
  • 2 tsp. red chile powder, preferably Kashmiri or cayenne
  • Naan bread, for serving (optional)


Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

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