Nihari Chicken Recipe

Nihari Chicken Recipe

If you’re on a journey to explore the diverse and rich tapestry of flavors that traditional Pakistani cuisine has to offer, then you’re in for a treat. In this culinary adventure, we’re delving into the world of Chicken Nihari, a beloved dish that holds a special place in the hearts of many food enthusiasts. From the tantalizing aroma of masalas to the tenderly cooked chicken pieces, Chicken Nihari is a masterpiece that awakens the senses and leaves you craving for more.

A Symphony of Spices: The Essence of Chicken Nihari

Chicken Nihari, a dish with roots deeply embedded in the culture and heritage of the Indian subcontinent, is a mesmerizing blend of spices and tender chicken pieces. This savory stew, often savored for breakfast, boasts a captivating medley of flavors that ignite the palate. But why is this dish worth the attention of both seasoned cooks and culinary novices? Let’s take a closer look.

Imagine succulent chicken pieces, slow-cooked to perfection, swimming in a rich and aromatic masala gravy. The spices that dance within this dish are not only a treat for your taste buds but also tell tales of tradition, history, and passion. The careful amalgamation of ginger, garlic, chili, and a secret nihari masala blend elevates the humble chicken to a whole new level. This is a dish that encapsulates the essence of homemade comfort food, evoking a sense of warmth and nostalgia with each mouthful.

A Culinary Journey: Exploring Chicken Nihari Step by Step

Let’s embark on a journey through the intricacies of preparing the perfect Chicken Nihari. This culinary adventure will take us through a series of steps, each adding layers of flavor and depth to the dish. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

Crafting the Nihari Masala

At the heart of every remarkable Chicken Nihari is the *nihari masala*, a symphony of spices that sets this dish apart. The masala is a blend of carefully chosen spices, each contributing its own unique note to the ensemble. Ginger, chili, and red chili powder join forces with fragrant cardamom and earthy fennel seeds. This combination creates a burst of flavors that will awaken your senses and transport you to the bustling streets of Pakistan, where the aroma of this masala is a familiar melody.

Slow and Steady: The Art of Cooking

Cooking Chicken Nihari is an exercise in patience and culinary finesse. The process involves slow-cooking the chicken pieces in the prepared masala until they are tender and infused with the essence of the spices. This slow-cooking method allows the flavors to meld and develop, creating a harmonious blend that is truly enchanting.

Garnishing and Presentation

Garnishing is an art form that adds the finishing touch to any dish. In the case of Chicken Nihari, fresh cilantro, green chilies, and a drizzle of ghee provide a burst of color and flavor. The vibrant green of the cilantro and chilies contrasts beautifully with the deep hues of the nihari, making it an enticing sight for the eyes as well as the palate.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, Chicken Nihari is enjoyed with freshly baked naan or roti, which serve as the perfect vessels for scooping up the flavorful gravy. The combination of the tender chicken, rich masala, and warm bread creates a symphony of textures and tastes that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Nihari Chicken Recipe
Nihari Chicken Recipe

Unlocking the Secrets of the Perfect Chicken Nihari Recipe

The Chicken Selection

Choosing the right chicken is crucial for achieving the desired texture and flavor. Opt for boneless chicken pieces, preferably thigh or leg meat, as they tend to be more succulent and flavorful.

The Nihari Masala Blend

Creating the perfect nihari masala blend is an art. While some prefer to use ready-made masala powders, crafting your own masala blend using ginger, garlic paste, red chili powder, and other spices allows you to tailor the flavors to your liking.

The Slow-Cooking Technique

The key to an authentic Chicken Nihari lies in the slow-cooking process. Allow the chicken to simmer on low flame for an extended period, ensuring that the flavors infuse into the meat and the gravy thickens to perfection.

Experimentation and Adaptation

While tradition holds a special place in the hearts of food enthusiasts, don’t be afraid to put your own spin on the classic Chicken Nihari. Experiment with variations, such as using mutton instead of chicken or adjusting the spice levels to suit your palate.

Nihari Chicken Recipe

Recipe by Heather Smith


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1 kg chicken, cut into pieces

  • 2 medium-sized onions, finely sliced

  • 4 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)

  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste

  • 2 tablespoons Nihari spice mix (readily available or a blend of coriander, cumin, fennel, cloves, and nutmeg)

  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • Salt to taste

  • 4 cups water

  • Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds

  • 4-5 cloves

  • 1 small nutmeg, grated


  • Toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and cloves in a dry pan until aromatic. Allow them to cool and then grind them along with the grated nutmeg into a fine powder. This spice mix will be the heart of your Nihari Chicken's flavor.
  • In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and sauté until golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute. Now, add the chicken pieces and sear until they are lightly browned on all sides.
  • Sprinkle the Nihari spice mix, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt over the seared chicken. Mix well to coat the chicken evenly with the spices.
  • Pour in the water and give it a gentle stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let the Nihari Chicken simmer on low heat for 4-5 hours. Alternatively, you can also prepare this dish in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours on low setting.
  • As the chicken cooks, the spices will meld together to create a rich, flavorful gravy. If the gravy is too thin, you can increase the heat to medium and let it simmer uncovered for a while to thicken.
  • Once the Nihari Chicken reaches the desired consistency, turn off the heat. Serve the dish hot, garnished with freshly chopped cilantro leaves. Nihari Chicken pairs wonderfully with naan, roti, or steamed rice.

Nutritional Content

The nutritional content of Nihari Chicken can vary based on portion size, ingredients used, and preparation methods. Generally, Nihari Chicken is rich in protein due to the chicken content. The spices and ghee contribute to the dish’s flavor and caloric content. Here is an approximate nutritional breakdown for a typical serving of Nihari Chicken (about 200 grams):

– Calories: Around 300-350 kcal

– Protein: Approximately 20-25 grams

– Carbohydrates: Around 5-10 grams

– Fat: Approximately 20-25 grams

Please note that these values are estimates and can vary based on factors such as portion size and specific ingredient quantities.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I use boneless chicken for Nihari Chicken?

   While traditionally Nihari is made with bone-in cuts for enhanced flavor, you can certainly use boneless chicken if you prefer. Keep in mind that bone-in cuts tend to impart a deeper flavor to the gravy.

2. Is Nihari Chicken very spicy?

   The level of spiciness can be adjusted according to your taste. The red chili powder and Nihari spice mix contribute to the dish’s heat, but you can reduce or increase these spices based on your preference.

3. Can I make Nihari Chicken with beef instead of chicken?

   Absolutely! Nihari is a versatile dish, and you can use beef, lamb, or other meats instead of chicken. The cooking time might vary, as beef or lamb would require longer slow-cooking to achieve the desired tenderness.

4. What is the purpose of slow-cooking Nihari Chicken for hours?

   Slow-cooking allows the flavors of the spices to meld with the chicken, resulting in a rich and aromatic gravy. It also ensures that the chicken becomes incredibly tender and absorbs the essence of the spices.

5. Can I prepare the Nihari Spice Mix in advance?

   Yes, you can prepare a batch of the Nihari Spice Mix in advance and store it in an airtight container. This will save you time when you’re ready to make Nihari Chicken.

Nihari Chicken Recipe
Nihari Chicken Recipe


In the realm of Pakistani cuisine, Chicken Nihari reigns supreme as a dish that marries tradition, flavor, and history. From the painstakingly crafted nihari masala to the slow-cooked chicken pieces, every element of this dish speaks volumes about the culture it represents. The journey of creating Chicken Nihari is a labor of love, one that rewards you with a symphony of flavors that linger long after the meal is over.

So, whether you’re a culinary aficionado or an adventurous beginner, diving into the world of Chicken Nihari will open your senses to a spectrum of tastes and aromas that is both enriching and delightful. It’s a dish that captures the essence of tradition while allowing room for creativity and personalization. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your spices, and embark on a culinary adventure that promises to tantalize your taste buds and transport you to the heart of Pakistan’s vibrant food culture.

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