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Nihari (Indian Beef Stew)
Serves: 3 to 4 people | Prep time: 25 minutes | Total Cook Time: 4 hours
2 lbs Beef shank (or 1 ½ lb boneless beef)
1 bay leaf
2 one-inch cinnamon sticks
1 ½ teaspoons + 1 ½ teaspoons ginger paste
1 ½ teaspoons + 2 teaspoons garlic paste
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons Nihari Masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, julienned
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 lemon, sliced
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pods
15 whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 bay leaf
Preparing Nihari Masala:
Add all the ingredients in a spice grinder and grind to fine powder form. Sift the powder through a fine sieve to remove any rough pieces and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can keep this for about a month.
Boiling the Shanks:
In a large pot add the beef shanks along with 1 ½ teaspoon of ginger paste, 1 ½ teaspoon of garlic paste, bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon of salt and 5 cups of water. Boil the shanks on low-medium heat till the meat is tender and well done, about 2-3 hours. (Make sure to add little more water if the water starts to dry out too fast; there should be enough water in the pot to cover the meat).
Once the meat is done, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the meat from the liquid and keep aside. Measure the stock (liquid) and add water if needed to make it 4 cups, reserve. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon. You can do this step up to 2 days in advance. Let the meat and stock stay together while you store them in refrigerator, remove the meat from the stock just before you start to put the stew together.
In a non-stick saucepan or a pot, heat oil over medium heat. When the oil gets hot, add the sliced onions and stir-fry constantly until they turn golden-brown in color. Don’t over fry or the onions will burn.
Add the remaining 1½ teaspoon of ginger paste and 2 teaspoons of garlic paste and do a quick stir. Add 1 cup of the reserved stock to the pan, cover the pan and let everything cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes until the liquid starts to dry out and the onions turn very soft.
Add the beef shanks to the pan along with the chili powder and Nihari Masala. Sauté gently for 2-3 minutes, and try to avoid the meat from breaking down.
Add 3 cups of remaining stock (if the stock is less than 3 cups add water). Give everything a gentle stir and cover the pan. Let it simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine the flour with ½ cup of water. Stir well.
After the stew has simmered for 10 minutes, add the flour mixture to the pan, stirring gently. Cover the pan and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes on low heat. Check it once or twice to make sure the gravy is not drying out.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes with its lid on before serving. When ready to serve, add salt to taste and garnish the stew with the ginger, cilantro and lemon juice and serve hot with pita, naan or any bread of your choice.