Dumbay ki Nihari

For the Garam Masala

2 tbsp. poppy seeds

1 tbsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

12 tsp. whole black peppercorns

14 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

5 whole cloves

3 green cardamom pods

1 black cardamom pod

1 whole star anise

1 stick cinnamon, halved

For the Nihari

1 cup canola oil

1 medium yellow onion, very thinly sliced

3 lamb shanks, halved crosswise

1 tbsp. cayenne

2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste

1 (3″) piece of ginger, peeled (1″ mashed into a paste, 2″ julienned, for serving)

14 cup flour

2 tbsp. ghee, melted

Chopped cilantro, lemon or lime wedges, minced Thai chiles, and naan bread, for serving (optional)

Kosher salt, to taste


Make the garam masala: Purée poppy seeds and 1 tbsp. water in a spice grinder into a paste; transfer to a bowl. Grind remaining spices into a powder; stir into paste.

Make the nihari: Heat oil and onion in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium. Cook until onion is caramelized, about 25 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer onion to a bowl. Discard all but 14 cup oil from the pan. Cook lamb, turning as needed, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Stir in reserved garam masala, the cayenne, garlic and ginger pastes, and salt; cook 1–2 minutes.
Add 3 cups water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until lamb has fallen off the bone, 5 12–6 hours. Using tongs, transfer lamb to a bowl; keep warm. Stir flour, ghee, and 14 cup water in a bowl and add to pan; cook until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Return lamb to pan. Serve with the reserved onion, julienned ginger, and, if you like, the cilantro, lemon or lime wedges, chiles, and naan.