Nihari inspired beef and tomatillo curry
I wonder if I would have more cookbooks if I didn’t have the internet. There are so many recpies avaliable at the click of a button it is just amazing. I stumbled across a Pakistani curry, Nihari. It isn’t just any curry it is the national dish of Pakistan with a long history. I didn’t realise this when I decided to give it go and I only read up on it after I had hmm.. made some changes to the recipe. Here is the recipe I found on Saveur.com and I really liked the Garam Masala spice mix and I knew I had to give this a go.
This morning when we woke up it was sunny and beautiful. I thought we were in for a late Indian summers day but before I knew it the sea mist rolled in and it got so cold it was a perfect curry day. I picked up some shin of beef from the butcher, it is a great cut for slow cooking. The recipe calls for lamb but I couldn’t resist the beef. There was a glut of tomatillos and I wanted to use these as well so here is my version.
Tradition says the curry cooks overnight but I cooked it during the day. Once the curry gets cooking you can just leave it and just check in every now and then. The only thing you need to think of is to use a pan with a tight fitting lid.
Nihari inspired curry with beef and tomatillos
preparation time 10 minutes
cooking time 5 1/2 hours
The Garam Masala
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 grated nutmeg
- 4 cardamon pods
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 kg shin of beef, trimmed of most fat and cut in to large chunks
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 chillies, seeds in, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 4 dl water
- oil for cooking
- 2 dl or 1 cup of quatered tomatillos
- 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup water
- 20 gr butter or ghee
Place the dry Garam Masala spices, except the poppy seeds and the cinnamon stick, in a spice grinder and blend.
Set the spice blend aside and place the poppy seeds and 1 tbsp of water in the spice grinder. Blend to a paste and mix with the other spices.
Heat oil in a pan and slowly caramelise the sliced onions.
Remove the onions from the pan and brown the meat. remove the onions and the meat, add a little more oil if necessary and add the Nihari spice mix. Let it cook for about a minute and add the ginger, garlic and chilli along with the meat, the cinnamon stick and the onions.
Add water and bring the curry to a boil. Put the lid on and let simmer for about 5 hours. Check in every now and then so it doesn’t get dry and taste, add salt if needed.
When the meat is cooked take it out of the curry. Mix flour and water and add this to the curry. Let it boil out and the sauce will start to thicken, this should take 10-15 minutes, add the quatered tomatillos at the same time. Add the meat back with the coriander and the butter. Heat through and serve with bulgur wheat or rice and a grapefruit raita.
I know it wasn’t a strictly traditional curry, the tomatillos were a great addition to an otherwise meat heavy dish. The spices made the sauce very rich despite being water based, I did worry about this but it all came together. The butter in the end softened the curry flavours and made it nice and glossy, don’t skip this stage.