Slow-cooked Lamb Shank Nihari

Serve this spicy lamb shank with naan or a crusty roll.

  • Preparation Time30 mins
  • Cooking Time180 mins
  • Serves8
  • DifficultyMedium

For the garam masala

1 tbsp aniseed or fennel
2 large black cardamom
1 large cinnamon quill
10-12 green cardamom
2 star anise
1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 pieces of mace
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
2 tbsp poppy seed paste (grind in a mortar and pestle with a bit of hot water)
15 cloves
3/4 tbsp black peppercorn

For the Nihari

4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp ghee
1 inch fresh ginger, grated finely
1/2 tbsp fresh crushed garlic
1 1/2 tbsp Kashimri red chilli powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp salt, or to taste
2kg leg of lamb chopped into 5-6 pieces with marrow exposed, or 3 large lamb shanks, cut into 2, marrow exposed
1 tbsp plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp wholemeal chapatti flour, sifted
1L water or enough to cover the meat

For the garnish

Large handful coriander
2 inch piece of ginger, julienned
4 thin green chillies, chopped finely
10 medium onions, deep fried until medium brown, drained
4 large lemons, cut into wedges

Grind all ingredients for the garam masala in a coffe grinder.

Heat oil and ghee together (on medium heat/flame) and fry the ginger and garlic until the raw smell leaves the pan. Then add in the lamb and fry until the meat is sealed. Add red chilli powder, salt and the ground garam masala (save 3 tsp as garnish).

Fry until the masala is fragrant and if it sticks to the pan add a splash of water as you go. Now add the Kashimiri chilli powder and the meat is coated evenly with all the masalas. Top the meat with about 1L water or until the meat is submerged.

Turn the heat to medium low and cook covered, for about 45 minutes to an hour, keep checking to see that the meat is not over boiling. After about an hour, take about a 240ml of the liquid out of the meat and add beat in the sifted flours. Now pour it into the main saucepan and stir in evenly. Add about 240ml of water, cover and cook on a very low heat for 2 hours, or until the meat falls off the bones.

Serve hot topped with coriander, remaining garam masala and finely julienned ginger. Serve additional chopped coriander leaves, julienned ginger, chopped green chillies, lemon wedges and deep fried onions in small bowls on the side. Enjoy with naans, crusty bread or rice.

Recipe courtesy of Sumayya Jamil, PukkaPakistani

Cook's note: the unofficial signature dish of Pakistan, with history in the royal kitchens of North Indian Muslim Nawabs (aristocrats); this is a dish that us traditionally eaten at breakfast, the word, Nihar means, ‘of the morning’. However this dish is now also enjoyed at other meal times in Pakistan. This is slow cooked with the bones and marrow of lamb shanks, with a home made spice blend and topped with many condiments.

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