The word “Nihar” originated from the Arabic word, “Nahar” which means “morning”. It was originally eaten by Nawabs in the Mughal Empire as a breakfast item after their morning prayers.
Nihari was developed in Old Delhi, India, during the reign of the Mughal Empire. Muslim Nawabs (Noblemen) would eat Nihari after their sunrise prayers (Fajr), after which they would take naps until the afternoon Muslim prayers (Zhuhr). It later became a regular breakfast dish for the working class due to its energy-boost.
This dish is truly a game-changer when it comes to Pakistani cuisine. This is often considered one of the best breakfast choices in Pakistan. Nihari begins as a heap of dry spices frying in vegetable oil and animal fat. The meat ingredients follow (most commonly beef shank), and a very healthy portion of Desi Ghee (home-made local clarified butter). The slow-cooking stew is then stirred altogether in a glorious cauldron of a pot. The consistency is oozing and thick, so full of ultra-tender meat chunks literally floating in desi ghee. It has a deep red color from the spice and infused ghee.
Eaten from communal plate-trays, you garnish the Nihari from a side-plate of fragrant sliced ginger, spicy green chilies, and a squeeze from a fresh lime or two. In Lahore you can try nihari at Waris Nihari and in Karachi, Javed Nihari is highly recommended.