lamb shank nihari

I have always saved this dish as something I eat while in restaurants as it always seemed so decadent and difficult. One cold sunday my husband came home from the shops with five prime lamb cuts perfect for nihari! It’s a fairly simple dish so is perfect to prepare for guests when you have many things to get ready.

I tend to make up a few portions of the nihari masala and keep in a glass jar. I have also made this up as a present for freinds.


  • 4-6 lamb shanks or 1kg of lamb leg chopped
  • Two tbsp oil
  • Two tbsp ghee
  • One onion finely chopped
  • Five cm piece ginger grated
  • Three garlic cloves
  • One teaspoon of red chilli powder
  • Three Kashmiri Red chilli
  • Six onions, sliced and deep fried
  • Salt to taste
  • One litre of hot water or as needed
  • Two tablespoons of plain flour, mixed into a paste

Nihari Masala

For the nihari masala

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 green cardamom
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 10 black peppercorns

For the garnish

  • Nihari Masala (as fresh made previously)
  • Chaat Masala
  • Fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • Green chillies, finely chopped
  • Large handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • Two or three lemons, cut into wedges
  • Deep-fried crispy onions


  1. Blend the ingredients for the nihari masala and set aside in a sealed tub or glass jar.
  2. Heat the oil and ghee in a heavy base pan, add the onion, ginger/ garlic, then cook for a few minutes, Add the lamb and fry until the meat is sealed.
  3. Add the Kashmiri Red chilli, red chilli powder and 1-2 tablespoon of the nihari masala, saving at least one tablespoon of the nihari masala for the garnish.
  4. Fry until the masala is starting to give off a nice aroma.
  5. Pour in enough water to cover the meat.
  6. Cover and simmer on a low heat for one hour, checking the liquid levels and turning shanks for even cooking.
  7. At this point turn off and pour the cooking liquid into a large bowl
  8. Add some of the cooking liquid to the flour paste and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain
  9. Add half the fried onions to the bowl
  10. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and whisk until all dissolved
  11. Give a final whisk with hand blender (you can skip this step but blending the fried onions Give a nice taste)
  12. Add salt to taste, start with a teaspoon.
  13. Add liquid back into the pan and mix and top up with water as needed.
  14. At this point you can place in the oven on a low heat or simmer on the stove top.
  15. Keep checking liquid levels, in around two hours the shanks should be cooked and falling off the bone

Serve with all the garnishes, and hot buttered naan or roti.

Copyright Sara Saleh 2018

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