Nihari developed with the overall cuisine of south Asian Muslims. It has been an old popular delicacy in parts of Bangladesh, particularly Dhaka and Chittagong. People cooked it for one whole night and they got it in the early morning at sunrise. It is a popular dish and is regarded as the national dish of Pakistan. The dish is known for its spiciness and taste. It was originally more of a delicacy with myriad variations on spiciness
Another story reveals that Nihari was cooked overnight in large volume to be served to the labourers. Whenever there were massive constructions involved and the kings served meals free to labour and also paid them. In some instances kings did not want to offer coins / currencies, they in turn offered free meals and accommodations to the labourers. Since the work had to be started in the morning, it was cooked in an earthern pot, sometimes even buried and served in the morning to ensure the supply of energetic labour force.
Alternative origins puts roots in the Muslim Nawab kitchens, having achieved fame via the storied royal kitchens of Lucknow in present-day Uttar Pradesh.
And, since the rich have been known to come up with innovative ways to work the poor, they decided to feed this delicacy to the labour class at construction sites as regular breakfast in lieu of ujrat (earned daily wages), the otherwise precious earnings after a hard days work. The high protein meat allowed for a progressively slow increase in blood sugar and therefore resulted in decreased cravings through the day. This practice continues to date; the labourer still eats Nihari early in the morning to sustain him through the day, and the wealthy for a weekend breakfast or as an indulgent dinner.
Historically, Nihari was cooked through the night for six to eight hours, and was ready to be served at sunrise. It was most delectable when cooked with veal or beef shank, though now mutton and chicken Nihari is popular too. Another variation in Nihari is the extra kick of magaz (brain) and nail (marrow) this is a special edition of Nihari. Real foodies consider it sacrilege to have Nihari sans the spare parts.
The method to cook Nihari has survived and remains somewhat similar to the early days. At the time, the lid of the daigh (large rounded pot) was sealed shut with lai (flour glue) to maintain maximum heat and steam for slow cooking. The meat was braised and then left to simmer in the aromatic and delightfully spicy essence of masalas. Gently, the meat soaked the flavour of the masalas as the masalas infused the heartiness of the meat; it was almost like one seducing the other ... to create magic.
Whenever you serve nihari, sprinkle a hint. It will enhance the taste and flavor.
Method for Nihari