Muhammadi Nihari: A Cultural Achievement
Nihari is a stew that is left to cook overnight and is served piping hot in the morning. The main ingredients for the dish are beef shank, lamb or mutton, and oil. Never forget the oil. Originally the dish was served with a piece of tender beef but now it has morphed into many different variations. It has been enjoyed by the locals as breakfast for centuries. In present-day Lahore, Muhammadi Nihari / Muhammadi Nehari is considered to be among the best Nihari restaurants in Lahore. It came recommended AF from a long line of relatives, teachers, friends, nephews, grand-nephews, and children yet to be born. Therefore, we decided to check it out at one of the place’s busiest time of the day: breakfast.
While most might be familiar with the Muhammadi Nihari on DHA Main Boulevard, this review is for Muhammadi Nihari Johar Town.
In a Nutshell:
- A national treasure
- The OG Beef Nihari
- Multiple locations, varying tastes
- Ask for maghaz
- Go ham with the masala
- Family friendly
With so many imitators, the OG Muhammadi Nihari is said to be located in Muzang and Allama Iqbal Town. However, the Johar Town setting seemed most convenient for us to visit. Muhammadi Nihari has been functioning for well over half a century, and the volume of people seeking breakfast at the restaurant speaks for itself. My company included a few nihari fanatics that went on sharing some interesting facts about the dish, en route the restaurant.
Legend has it that the word “nihari” has been derived from “Nahar”, which is an Arabic word that means “morning” or “sunrise”. It is also considered to be the national dish of Pakistan. Nobody can say for sure where the dish originated from. However, one variation of the origin story claims that it first became popular in the late 18th century during the last reigns within the Mughal Empire and has since been considered a traditional delicacy by many.
My friends and I joined the throng expecting this delectable breakfast and grabbed the first seats we could find. While the seating wasn’t exactly ideal, it was compensated for by the sight of our food. Just relaying the order makes my mouth water: a full plate of nihari, Maghaz (fried brain masala) and Machli ki Boti. Fresh naan and lassi accompanied this main course and the whole meal was served within ten minutes. Hot, fresh and resembling the sight of monsalwa itself the food was topped off by a mint raita which had the tinge of a lemon’s acidity, sliced ginger, coriander leaves and a merciless amount of spices.
Honestly, I still have dreams about the first bite I took of that moreish brown Lahori nihari. Its thick silky texture could be the subject of countless elegies. The nihari had the perfect brown color and a very special, spicy flavor. I wish I could express how gleeful I felt while looking at the questionable quantity of oil in, well, everything! As a Lahori, falling in love with Muhammadi Nihari is in my DNA. And if you want to experience this wonderful city, and one of its greatest cultural achievements, this is the place for you.