Lamb shanks are plentiful on menus. Find osso buco and you’ve got yourself a cut of veal shank. But for me, there’s no replacement for a meltingly collagenous beef shank. And the best way to enjoy it is in a spicy stew called nihari.
Though nihari’s roots are in India, I’ve mostly experienced it at Pakistani restaurants. And I did exactly that at Lakshmi Chowk, a stylish eatery hidden in an industrial park in Ashburn.
One does not go Lakshmi Chowk for the service. The gentleman on staff when I was there was overwhelmed with takeout orders and never returned after we asked him for a third plate from which our party of three could eat. But it was worth sharing to soak in the flavors on offer.
We started with a plate of samosa chaat. The crisp, lightly spicy samosa sits in a pool of sweet, cooling mint yogurt. The nihari is only available on weekends, along with a few other special dishes, including goat paya and chicken haleem.
The lush curry benefits from the silky richness of rendered beef tallow, which mitigates the heat but still lets it sing for its supper. Cinnamon mixes with cardamom, making the dish as aromatic as it is earthy. A side of fresh ginger and chiles allows diners to enhance the flavors to their preference. And the meat? It’s as tender and beefy as one could hope.
Everybody’s working for the weekend, but a bowl of nihari is a little bit of extra incentive.// 21770 Beaumeade Cir., Ste. 110, Ashburn
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