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When Hanger Strikes

  • Writer's pictureMari

Pressure Cooker Nihari

This Ramadan classic usually takes 4-6+ hours to make to get a tender, fall off the bone meat. Using a pressure cooker gives you the same results in less than 2 hours! For the flavour it gives, this recipe isn't so complicated - all you need is a little time.


Pressure Cooker Nihari

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes Yield: 6-8 servings


For the Nihari Masala

  • 2 pieces of mace

  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds

  • 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds

  • 1 tbs whole fennel seeds

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 2 inches cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder

  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

  • 1-2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder or (sub cayenne pepper)

  • 2 & 1/2 teaspoon salt or according to taste

For the Nihari

  • 2 yellow onions, sliced thin

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil

  • 2 tbs fresh ginger, grated

  • 1.5-2 kg lamb with bone (shanks is best but any part of the leg work well too), washed and dried well

  • 8 cups water

  • 2 tbs whole wheat flour

  • Fresh lime wedges, to serve

  • Raw onion, to serve

  • Cilantro, to serve

  • Crusty bread for serving


  1. To a large ceramic coated pressure cooker, add the mace, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, bay leaves and cinnamon. Toast over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove from pan into a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Pound into a fine powder, then add the add the black pepper, ginger powder, and Kashmiri chili powder. Set aside until ready to use.

  2. To the same pressure cooker, add 3/4 of the oil, the onions, and 1/2 tsp salt. Fry the onions over medium heat until browned, stirring often - this process takes 30-35 minutes, so do not stop before that. You want the onions to get nice and brown because that is the flavour base for this dish.

  3. Once the onions have browned, remove them from the pot. Add the remaining oil, grated ginger, the lamb, and 1 tsp salt. Stir for 3-4 mins, then add the nihari masala and onions. Stir to coat the lamb in the spices, then turn the heat up to high and saute for 5 mins. Add the water and remaining salt, stir, and lock the lid of the pressure cooker on. Let the whistle go off 3 times, then turn the heat down to medium low and set a timer for 45 mins.

  4. After 45 mins, turn the heat off and wait for all of the steam to release naturally from the cooker before opening - this usually takes around 30-45 mins. Open the lid and turn the heat back on to medium low. Whisk in the whole wheat flour and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve with lime/lemon wedges, raw white onion and fresh cilantro, as well as crusty bread for dipping into the broth.


  • When using pressure cookers, avoid aluminum or metal coated pots. Food tends to stick to the bottom - opt for a ceramic coated cooker instead.

  • Nihari tastes even better the next day

  • You can use beef or goat with bones instead of lamb, but in my opinion, lamb gives the broth the best flavour

  • If you can't find Kashmiri chili powder and have to sub regular chili powder, use less or it may end up too spicy


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