Olive Magazine
A dish filled with lamb shanks in a deep brown curry broth with lime wedges on the side

Lamb shank nihari

Published: February 17, 2022 at 12:03 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

In Pakistan, this dish is traditionally cooked all night and eaten for breakfast with hot, freshly made naans. It’s often made with extra bones so the marrow enriches the curry further, whilst a homemade nihari masala spice mix takes this dish to the next level of flavour

  • Gluten free

Make this lamb shank Bihari, then check out our lamb shank rogan josh, lamb bhuna, lamb dhansak and more lamb curry recipes.


  • 2 tbsp ghee or sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 4 small lamb shanks
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp cornflour


  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 10 pods cardamom
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • grated to make ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder


  • a thumb-sized piece ginger, shredded
  • a handful of leaves coriander
  • 1 green chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, wedged
  • naans, to serve


  • STEP 1

    To make the nihari masala, tip all of the whole spices into a dry frying pan and toast for 1-2 minutes or until smelling fragrant. Tip into a spice grinder with the nutmeg, ground ginger and chilli powder, and whizz to a powder.

  • STEP 2

    Heat the ghee in a large casserole and fry the onions with a pinch of salt over a medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until softened and beginning to caramelise. Tip in the garlic and ginger pastes, shanks, nihari masala, ground turmeric and a big pinch of salt. Fry for a few minutes, tossing everything to coat, then pour in 1.5 litres of water.

  • STEP 3

    Bring to a simmer, reduce to a gentle bubble, then put on the lid and simmer gently for 2 hours, then remove the lid and cook for another 2 hours until the lamb is meltingly tender.

  • STEP 4

    Combine the cornflour with a little cold water then tip into the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes until thickened slightly.

  • STEP 5

    Spoon the shanks into four shallow bowls and ladle over plenty of the gravy. Sprinkle over some of the shredded ginger, coriander and green chilli. Serve with lime wedges and naans.


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