Learn how to make classic Pakistani beef Nihari in the Instant Pot. This recipe gives all the authentic flavor in 30 minutes of prep time!
It’s been two years since I shared my Easy Slow Cooker Nihari recipe, and it’s still one of the most popular recipes on my blog!
Since then, I’ve received tons of messages that have made my day, like ‘I didn’t know nihari could be this easy’, ‘it tastes just like restaurant nihari’, and ‘this is the best homemade nihari I’ve had’!
I’ve also received many questions about converting the recipe to a pressure cooker/Instant Pot.
In a very ‘you asked, I delivered’ fashion, I present to you…Instant Pot Nihari!
Still easy, still authentic-tasting, and just 30 minutes of prep time.
Side note: To challenge my claim, I set a timer for 30 minutes before I started making this. And guess what? I was closing my Instant Pot lid when the timer finished, toddler interruptions included.
Tips for making Instant Pot Nihari
The previous tips from my slow cooker nihari recipe are still applicable in this recipe. Here are a few FAQs plus some new tricks I’ve tried & learned!
- Using bones alongside the meat will enhance the flavor (a nice compensation for cooking it quickly in the Instant Pot). I’ve included 1/3 lb, but feel free to use more if desired.
- After several experiments, I figured out how to make the BEST gluten-free version of nihari. You simply dry roast brown rice flour for 3-4 minutes on low-medium heat and use it as a substitute for atta flour. Dry roasting it deeply enhances the flavor and pretty much replicates the atta version. Try it with my gluten-free no-yeast naan!
- A traditional pressure cooker and instant pot take about the same time to cook meat, lentils, etc. However, an Instant Pot will need much less water.
- If you want to double this recipe, double the ingredients and increase the time of sautéing the onions and meat, but pressure cook for the same time.
Why This Recipe Works
My nihari recipes are the result of nothing but serious trial and error, emphasis on the error. These are just some of the “why’s” behind the way I cook nihari.
- If you try to thicken the gravy by adding in flour, it will result in clumps. To avoid this, remove some of the nihari liquid (using water dilutes the taste), allow it to cool, and then whisk in the nihari liquid. You’ll add this slurry to the nihari after the initial cooking has completed.
- On pre-made Nihari masala – I’ve had many questions about using *just* the spice mix. I’m not above using pre-made spice mixes, but I prefer not to use the suggested quantities because it can taste quite harsh. Plus, the flavors are just more pronounced and deep when you use fresh spices. Keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust the salt/spice level depending on which brand and how much masala you use.
- In my slow cooker recipe, I use less whole spices (the longer cooking time infuses more of their flavor). Since I’m making it in the Instant Pot, I’m more generous with them.
- The key to a great nihari is intentional depth of flavor. Deeply brown onions, fresh spices infusing the oil, meat that is properly braised..all this contributes to the revered taste of nihari.
If you try this recipe, please share your review in the comments or tag me on Instagram! I always love hearing from you!
P.S. For video instructions on how to make this, check out my Instagram story highlights!
MORE RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:
P.S. Be sure to grab my 7 Pakistani Dinner Recipes E-Book for more dinner inspiration!
Easy Instant Pot Nihari (Pakistani Beef Stew)
- 1 small star anise
- 2 small bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2-3 whole cloves ground into a powder using a mortar & pestle
- 2-3 green cardamom pods seeds removed and ground into a powder using a mortar & pestle
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds ground into a powder using a mortar & pestle
- ½-1 tsp paprika powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4-1/2 tsp Asian red chilli powder or cayenne
- 1/4 tsp crushed red chilli pepper
- 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder optional
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 tbsp Nihari masala powder (I use Shan brand)
- 1/3 cup grapeseed, canola or other neutral oil
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 5-6 garlic cloves, crushed using a mortar & pestle
- 1/2 inch piece ginger, crushed using a mortar & pestle
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 cup South Asian atta flour OR roasted brown rice flour*
- 3 1/2-4 cups water
- 1 lb beef stew pieces – about 1 ½-2 inch cubed
- 1/3-1/2 lb beef bones
- crispy fried onions
- 1 inch piece ginger, julienned
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1-2 mild green chillies, chopped
Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Once hot, add the oil, ghee, and onion, and sauté until the onion turns golden, about 10-12 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté until the raw smell disappears, about 15-20 seconds.
Add beef and stir-fry for about 4-5 minutes or until it begins to brown.
Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot. Add the whole spices, powdered spices, and salt and sauté for about 20 seconds. Pour in the water and stir to deglaze any browned bits from the bottom.
Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Meat/Stew setting and turn the Pressure Level to high. The meat setting will automatically turn the timer to 45 minutes.
Let naturally release for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release the remaining pressure. Remove the whole spices, if desired.
Take out a cup of the liquid of the Nihari into a bowl. Let it cool a little by adding an ice cube to it. Place the atta or roasted brown rice flour* in another bowl. Bit by bit, whisk in the Nihari liquid to the atta to form a smooth slurry. Slowly stir this slurry back into the Instant Pot to prevent clumps. Taste and adjust salt & seasoning as desired.
Secure the lid again and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting and set the cooking time for 10 minutes at low pressure. Let naturally release for 5 min.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve alongside the garnishing with naan.
*Traditionally, atta is used to thicken the curry. I highly recommend you use it for an authentic taste.
*For a gluten-free option, dry roast the brown rice flour in a non-stick pan over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir constantly to ensure even browning.
*If you do not use the pre-made masala, increase the rest of the spices per taste.