Archive for the ‘Potli Ka Masala’ Category


December 15, 2008

It snowed here very heavily this year on Eid-ul-Adha, and I thought it would be best to cook a warming and nourishing brunch for the next day in the morning. My father in law recollected his good old times while we were having Nihari as our breakfast and said at the dastarkhaan, that when he was a school going kid, his father would ask him to get up very early if he would like to join him for a breakfast of Nihari at Shehran Hotel, beside Charminar in Hyderabad. He also added he always loved the Nihari at Shahran and devoured it and still remember its taste.

Some of the traditional dishes prepared by muslims just after Qurbani on Eid-ul-Adha are Nihari, Maghaz MasalaOrgan meat and various kinds of the red meat preparations from the Qurbani ka gosht.

Nihari, is a rich broth, made out the bones and meat of a sheep or lamb’s cheek and head bones and the tongue meat and shanks. It has a special mention in the must-taste list of travelers visiting the city around Eid. In Hyderabad, after the Qurbani, my father would take the sheep’s head and feet to the butcher for further preparations so that we could prepare Nihari. The butcher used to remove all the hairs from the skin of sheep’s feet and head, discard the waste parts and whack them up into pieces. These were then roasted in fire to kill all the disease-causing agents, if present, and also to intensify its flavors. The meat from the sheep’s cheeks is substantial and most tender and delectable. Its tongue takes a longer time to get cooked, but is a delicacy. The butchers here where I live remove the skin from the trotters and clean them, so I do have to fire roast the shanks.

Nihari prepared using fire-roasted lamb trotters with skin

Nihari is prepared by boiling or slow cooking the sheep bones and meat along with a range of ambrosial spices and herbs. Earlier, people used to slow cook it on coal in large pots the whole night long, until it was thick and enticing by morning, ready for the breakfast. Today, women, use pressure cookers to save time.

The Potli ka Masala or bouquet garni for Nihari contains a mixture of around 20 or more aromatic herbs and spices which are tied in a muslin cloth and tossed into the saucepan to infuse its flavors and a beautiful fragrance into the boiling broth. Its contains but is not limited to spices such as:

English Urdu English Urdu
1. Coriander seeds Dhaniya 7. Black Peppercorns Sabut Kali Mirch
2. Bay Leaf Tej Patta 8. Chinese Cubeb Kawabchini
3. Sandalwood sticks Sandal ki lakdi 9. Spiked Ginger Lily Kapoor Kachri
4. Stone Flowers Pathar Ka Phool 10. Cardamom Badi Elaichi
5. Dried Rose petals Sukhe Gulab ke Phool 11. Salt Namak
6. Roots of the Betel plant Paan ki jad 12. Garam Masala Garam Masala

Ready made Potli Ka Masala from a store in Hyderabad,
containing various aromatic dried herbs and spices

You do not have to go searching for all these herbs to make your own Potli ka Masala. It is available ready made at many specialty stores in Hyderabad, especially in the Old city, a 25 gm potli ka masala costs around 10 rupees per packet. Use any of the brands that you get your hands on. In the ready made Potli Ka Masala packets available in the markets in Hyderabad, there is again a small packet inside called as the Nihari Maala powder, which consists of the powdered masala  used in the second stage in the cooking process for Nihari.

Almost every household in Hyderabad prepares Nihari as breakfast or brunch at the second or third day of Eid. It is had by sousing soft and warm Kulcha‘s or Paratha‘s, or by dunking in crusty breads into the highly flavored and nourishing broth containing all the goodness.

Nihari, prepared using deskinned lamb trotters,
served along with warm Parathas in the Hot-Pot

Nihari is always prepared out the head bones, tongue & cheek meat and the shanks or trotters of a lamb or a sheep. The traditional Nihari is never prepared of boneless lamb meat or chicken. However people add the same Nihari masala to chicken and boneless meat broths to simulate the dish in other simpler forms.

Nihari – Aromatic Slurpy Broth of Lamb Shanks and Cheek Meat


4 legs and a head of a sheep – cleaned (and fire roasted if using the trotters with skin), and whacked into pieces + a sheep’s Tongue/Zabaan – cleaned
Potli ka Masala – half the quantity in a 25 gm packet
Red onion – 1, large, roughly chopped
Corn/Gram flour – 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 1/4 tsp
Turmeric/Haldi – 1/4 tsp
Small green chillies – 3, slit half

For Tempering, Baghaar:

Canola oil – 3 tbsp
Yellow onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 1/2 tsp

For Garnish:

Cilantro – 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Ginger juliennes – 2 tsp
Lemon wedges – 1 cup
Saffron threads – a pinch
Lemon juice – 1/3 cup


1. Wash the sheep’s head bones, tongue and trotters in surplus water. Put them in a strainer for the water to drain away. Meanwhile, in a pressure cooker, add the roughly chopped red onion, the washed bones, tongue and trotters from the strainer and pour in 1 liter of water. Make a bouquet garni of the required amount of potli ka masala (not the powdered masala from the small packet, read about it above). Add this bouquet garni along with salt and turmeric and close the lid to pressure cook for about 35 to 40 minutes on medium low heat. Later, open the lid and add corn/gram flour (make sure it doesn’t form into a lump), red chilli powder and green chillies. Half cover the lid and let it slow cook for an hour more. Let it cool down just enough for you to handle it. Using a spoon, only remove all the small and large sharp bones from the broth, except the shanks and discard them. The broth is ready.
2. During that time, prepare the baghaar. Take a medium sized pan at medium high heat and pour oil into it. Throw in the sliced onions, and stir fry them until they are golden brown in colour. Now add the ginger garlic paste to the caramelized onions and fry it along for about 2 minutes more. Remove the pan from heat and keep aside.
3. Just before you are ready to serve it everyone, add half the quantity of the nihari masala powder from the small packet of the store brought potli ka masala, and the contents of the pan to the broth in the pressure cooker and boil it once. Remove the bouquet garni and squeeze it thoroughly. Discard it. Close the heat and pour the Nihari into a large serving bowl. Add lemon juice, saffron threads and ginger juliennes. Serve the lemon wedges in a separate small cup if anyone wishes for an extra zing. Enjoy!

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy Nihari along with warm Parathas for a sumptuous breakfast.