Nihari: The Meaty Breakfast Of The Mughals
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Have you ever been to the quaint streets opposite Jama Masjid in the wee hours of the day? You will come across eateries that are open 24*7 serving a delicious dish for breakfast called Nihari. Nihari is a stew that originated in India. The stew consists of slow-cooked meat like lamb or chicken along with bone marrow. The stew is flavoured with long pepper. Nihari is relished as a breakfast dish along with khameeri roti by many people across cities. Did you know that the word Nihari originated from the word nahar in Arabic which means ‘morning?’ (Check out these 5 places in Delhi, to eat Nihari at). This dish was originally eaten by Nawabs in the Mughal empire for breakfast after their morning prayers. Since then Nihari has become a beloved dish that people devour for breakfast. Reportedly, Nihari originated in the 18th century during the reign of the Mughal empire. The dish finds its root in the royal kitchens of Awadh, Uttar Pradesh. Also Read: From Nihari To Biryani, Several Emperors Have Paved The Way For The Present-Day Mughlai Delicacies 

It was originally only meant to be eaten as a breakfast dish, especially in cold mornings, on an empty stomach. Over a period of time, Nihari started being eaten as lunch and dinner too. However, even today it primarily is cherished as a breakfast indulgence. Did you know that Nihari was also used as a home remedy for fever and the common cold in the olden days? The recipe for Nihari evolved as the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent re-created the famous delicacy with some culinary twists. Nihari is also a ‘vintage’ delicacy, popular in parts of Bangladesh. People cooked Nihari for one whole night and they ate it in the early morning at sunrise. This practice is still followed by some eateries in Old Delhi. The flavour of this dish is known for its spiciness. Also Read: How Was Nihari Cooked In Mughlai Kitchens?

Credit: Shutterstock

An interesting nugget we bet you didn’t know about Nihari is: In some restaurants, a few kilos from each day's leftover Nihari is still added to the next day's pot. This re-used portion of Nihari is called taar. The taar is believed to provide the unique flavor to the Nihari dish. Some Nihari outlets in old Delhi boast of an unbroken taar going back more than a century. Would you want to make a quick trip to Dilli 6 and try out this sumptuous dish for breakfast any time soon? 

Here’s a recipe of Nalli Nihari by Chef Sanjeev Kapur: 


Lamb leg pieces - 500 grams 

Ghee - 2 tablespoons 

Nihari masala - 2 1/2 tablespoons 

Deep fried onions - 1 cup 

Salt to taste 

Whole wheat flour (atta) - 2 tablespoons 

Ginger, cut into thin strips - 1 inch


Heat ghee in a deep pan, add mutton pieces and sauté on high heat till well browned. Add nihari masala and continue to sauté for two minutes.

Add half the fried onions and mix. Add two cups of water and salt and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook till the mutton is completely cooked.

Mix whole wheat flour in half a cup of water, well so that there are no lumps. Add the remaining fried onions to the mutton mixture. Add the wheat flour mixture and mix well.