Followed by the biryani showdown we did last month, we thought what is another traditional dish whose authenticity should be recognized and critically analyzed in the capital. We didn’t need much thinking to do and just like biryani, we Islamabadis are said to be unaware of the real taste of the Nawabi delicacy: Nihari.
So what makes the best Nihari? As per the real Nihari enthusiasts and foodies, a Nihari has to have:
a) A perfect consistency of the curry (not too runny, neither too thick)
b) The rich orangish-red color of the curry
c) The soft and tender meat (tender enough to break away easily)
Do you know that Nihari is supposed to be cooked for at least 6 – 8 hours? And that only a Nihari expert can cook the authentic Nihari that originated from the Mughals. We brought in an expert panel for tasting, which included a Karachite Anjuman Rehman, and foodies like Pervaiz Abbasi, Sahab Nasir and Irum Zahra who are on the hunt to find real Nihari in Islamabad. They remarked that they have gone around Islamabad and said to have never tasted Nihari better than that which they serve in Karachi.
Next, we shortlisted some of the popular Nihari places in the capital that the people of Islamabad consider the best. The popular names include Dilli Darwaza, Cheema Chattas, Mohammadi Nihari, Nihari from Haleem Ghar and more such names. But those that reached our tables were:
Mohammadi Nihari, I – 10
One of the most popular Nihari shops in Islamabad is Mohammadi Nihari, we decided to bring it in, get it tested and see what our judges have to say about it. As the time came for the judges to taste the curries, just the look of this one had gotten their eyebrows raised. One of the most popular Niharis was failed by our judges and they refused to even call it Nihari.
Our say: If they serve it saying it’s channay, we might as well accept it, just don’t call it Nihari.
Image source: Facebook
Noni’s Kitchen (Home Chef)
The word of mouth of this home vendor is going around the Facebook groups, who say that Nihari from this home kitchen is better than most which you consider best. Upon tasting this one, the comments that were passed on were that this one is the spiciest of all the curries. In fact, all they could taste is spice, but overall the Nihari was hygienic, but not good enough to be considered an authentic Karachi ki Nihari.
Our Say: Hygienic home cooked food is always a yes!
Image source: Noni’s Kitchen Facebook Page
Dilli Darwaza (so called winner)
Although Anjum, our expert from Karachi had already declared at the beginning that she was sure that finding a proper Nihari in Islamabad is a challenge. And we are in for a great disappointment, which is why the best out of the 3 Niharis was from Dilli Darwaza, receiving a score of just 5/10 from Anjum herself. The expert advised that this nihari needs more cooking and then the flavors would be the closest to an authentic nihari.
Our say: Maybe Nihari from the kitchen of Dilli Darwaza can be categorized as a good Nihari, and the next time you want a plate of Nihari and you can’t fly off to Karachi, you can head down to their spot in Beverly Center, Blue Area, Islamabad.
Image source: Dilli Darwaza Facebook
Let’s not go into conclusions yet, we still have to find the Nihari that is a proper Nawabi Nihari in the capital city.