The Ultimate Guide to Chicken Nihari: A Flavorful Journey

Chicken Nihari is not just a dish; it’s an experience. The aroma, the spices, and the velvety gravy make it a culinary masterpiece. In my ...

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Calvin Lamb

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chicken nihari

Chicken Nihari is not just a dish; it’s an experience. The aroma, the spices, and the velvety gravy make it a culinary masterpiece. In my opinion, this dish is perfect for special occasions or a hearty weekend meal. The blend of spices like cumin, cardamom, and red chili elevates it to a level that few other dishes can match.

How to Choose the Right Main Ingredient: Chicken

When it comes to Chicken Nihari, the chicken is the star. But how do you pick the right one? Organic chicken is your best bet. It’s free from antibiotics and hormones, ensuring that the dish is as healthy as it is tasty.

What About Seasoning?

Spices are the soul of Chicken Nihari. Should you go for pre-made Nihari masala or make your own spice mix? I recommend making your own. A blend of coriander, fennel seeds, and other Indian spices will give your Nihari a unique touch.

How to Use Equipment Effectively

For Chicken Nihari, a heavy-bottomed pot is essential. It distributes heat evenly, ensuring that the chicken cooks perfectly and the spices blend well. A wooden spoon is ideal for stirring, as it won’t react with the spices. If you’re using a pressure cooker, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

The Ultimate Chicken Nihari Recipe

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the recipe.

Yield: 6

Chicken Nihari

chicken nihari

Chicken Nihari is a dish that speaks to my soul. The rich, velvety gravy infused with aromatic spices like cumin and coriander creates a culinary symphony that's hard to forget. Each spoonful is a journey through the diverse flavors of Indian and Pakistani cuisine, making it a must-try for anyone who loves hearty, spiced dishes.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes


  • 1 kg Organic Chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp Ghee
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 2 tbsp Green Chili Paste
  • 2 tbsp Nihari Masala
  • 1 tbsp Red Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tbsp Fennel Seeds
  • 2 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Lemon, cut into wedges
  • Salt to taste

For Garnish

  • Julienne Ginger
  • Fresh Coriander
  • Brown Onions
  • Lemon Wedges

For Flour Slurry

  • 2 tbsp Wheat Flour or Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1 cup Water


  1. Initial Preparation: Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a heavy-bottomed pot to ensure even heat distribution.
  2. Aromatic Base: Add the finely chopped onion to the pot and sauté until it turns translucent, releasing its aroma.
  3. Flavor Infusion: Stir in the ginger garlic paste and green chili paste, mixing them well with the onions.
  4. Adding the Protein: Place the chicken pieces into the pot and cook until they lose their pink color and turn white.
  5. Spice It Up: Add the Nihari masala, red chili powder, cumin, coriander powder, and fennel seeds. Stir until the spices are well incorporated.
  6. Liquid Addition: Pour in enough water to submerge the chicken pieces completely and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
  7. Slow Cooking: Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the pot sit for about 2 hours, allowing the flavors to meld.
  8. Thickening Agent: In a separate bowl, combine the flour and water to create a smooth slurry.
  9. Final Touch: Add the slurry to the pot while stirring continuously to prevent the formation of lumps.
  10. Last Cooking Phase: Continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes until the gravy reaches your desired consistency.
  11. Garnish and Serve: Top the dish with julienne ginger, fresh coriander leaves, crispy brown onions, and lemon wedges for that extra zing.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 800mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 35g

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Serving Suggestions and Side Dishes

Chicken Nihari pairs well with hot naan or toasted bread. For a gluten-free option, almond flour or cornflour can be used for the slurry.

Cooking Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don’t rush the cooking: The longer you simmer, the better the flavors.
  • Use fresh spices: This enhances the aroma and flavor.
  • Avoid using too much water: This can make the gravy too thin.

Conclusion: The Final Word on Chicken Nihari

Chicken Nihari is more than just a dish; it’s a celebration of flavors and spices. From the streets of Delhi, India, to the bustling kitchens of Karachi, Pakistan, this dish has made its mark. Whether you’re a fan of Mughal dishes like Korma and Biryani or Pakistani stews like Haleem, Chicken Nihari is a must-try. So go ahead, gather your ingredients and embark on this flavorful journey. You won’t regret it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Chicken Nihari made of?

Chicken Nihari is a sumptuous dish made from organic chicken, a blend of aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, and red chili, and a rich, velvety gravy. It’s often garnished with lemon wedges, brown onions, and fresh coriander.

What does Nihari mean?

The word “Nihari” originates from the Arabic word “Nahar,” which means “day.” Traditionally, Nihari was cooked overnight and eaten as a breakfast dish to start the day.

Is Nihari a type of curry?

Nihari is often mistaken for curry, but it’s not. While both have a spiced gravy, Nihari is a slow-cooked stew that has a thicker, more velvety texture compared to curry.

What are the items in Nihari?

Nihari typically includes a main protein like chicken or beef, a variety of spices such as Nihari masala, red chili, and cumin, and a flour slurry to thicken the gravy. It’s garnished with items like lemon wedges, brown onions, and fresh coriander.

Can I make Chicken Nihari with beef?

Absolutely! Beef Nihari is actually the traditional version of this dish. Just replace the chicken with beef and adjust the cooking time to ensure the beef is tender.

Is Chicken Nihari gluten-free?

Chicken Nihari can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free flour like almond flour or cornflour for the slurry instead of wheat flour.

How do I store leftover Chicken Nihari?

Chicken Nihari can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to a month.

What other dishes go well with Chicken Nihari?

Chicken Nihari pairs excellently with Indian bread like Tandoori Naan or even toasted bread. Side dishes like Paneer Reshmi Chicken Handi or Chicken Karahi also complement it well.

Can I make Chicken Nihari vegan?

While the essence of Nihari is its meaty richness, you can attempt a vegan version using hearty vegetables like mushrooms or jackfruit, although the taste will be different.

Is Chicken Nihari spicy?

The spice level of Chicken Nihari can be adjusted to your preference. While the traditional recipe calls for a good amount of red chili, you can reduce it for a milder version.

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