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Mutton Nihari
CourseBreakfast, lunch, dinner
Place of originIndian subcontinent
Region or stateLucknow, Awadh
Associated cuisineIndian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi[1]
Invented18th century
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsShank cut of beef (mainly in Pakistan), lamb and mutton, goat meat, or camel meat, as well as chicken and bone marrow
Other informationServed with naan or rice

Nihari (Hindi: निहारी; Bengali: নিহারী; Urdu: نہاری) is a stew originating in Lucknow, the capital of 18th-century Awadh under the Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent. It consists of slow-cooked meat, mainly a shank cut of beef, lamb and mutton, or goat meat, as well as chicken and bone marrow. It is flavoured with long pepper (pippali), a relative of black pepper. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, nihari is often served and consumed with naan.


The name nihari originates from Arabic nahâr (نهار), meaning "morning";[2][3][4] it was originally eaten by nawabs in the Mughal Empire as a breakfast course following Fajr prayer.[2][4]


According to many sources, nihari originated in the royal kitchens of Lucknow, Awadh (modern-day Uttar Pradesh, India), in the late 18th century, during the last throes of the Mughal Empire.[3] It was originally meant to be consumed as a heavy, high-energy breakfast dish on an empty stomach by working-class citizens, particularly in colder climates and seasons. However, the dish later gained a significant amount of popularity and eventually became a staple of the royal cuisine of Mughal-era nawabs.[5][6]

Nihari developed with the overall cuisine of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. It remains a popular delicacy, especially in parts of Old Delhi and Lucknow. After 1947, through migration, nihari gained popularity in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Dhaka, and Chittagong. The dish is known for its spiciness, taste, texture, and gravy.[7][4][better source needed]


Nihari is a traditional dish among the Indian Muslim communities of Lucknow, Delhi, and Bhopal. Following the partition of India in 1947, many Urdu-speaking Muslims from northern India migrated to Karachi in West Pakistan and Dhaka in East Pakistan, and established a number of restaurants serving the dish. In Karachi, nihari became a large-scale success[8] and soon spread in prominence and availability across Pakistan.

Karachi-style beef nihari in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia – garnished with ginger, coriander leaves, and green chillies

In some restaurants, a few kilograms from each day's leftover nihari is added to the next day's pot; this reused portion of the dish is known as taar and is believed to provide a unique flavour. Some nihari outlets in Old Delhi claim to have kept an unbroken cycle of taar going for more than a century.[9]

Medicinal remedies[edit]

Nihari is also used as a home remedy for fever, rhinorrhea, and the common cold.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sen, Colleen Taylor; Bhattacharyya, Sourish; Saberi, Helen (23 February 2023). The Bloomsbury Handbook of Indian Cuisine. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-350-12864-4.
  2. ^ a b Sengupta, Sushmita (3 January 2018). "Nihari: History Of The Meaty and Buttery Breakfast Staple of The Mughals". NDTV Food. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b Chakravorty, Deblina (12 April 2012). "Nihari, a gift from Nawabs". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Nihari- historical recipe". Homtainment. 23 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  5. ^ "In celebration of winter's perfect dish, the mutton nihari!". Hindustan Times. 4 November 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Do you know what is Nalli Nihari? History of Nihari and recipe of Nalli Nihari". infusecooking.com. 29 June 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Nahari". Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Nihari a la Mexican style". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  9. ^ Sengupta, Sushmita (20 January 2022). "Nihari's 'Taar' to Dahi's 'Jamun': The Desi Art Of Using Remains Of Previous Batch To Flavour Next". Slurrp.com. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  10. ^ "What is Nihari?". Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2014.