Haleem is a type of stew popular in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Although the dish varies from region to region, it optionally includes wheat or barley, meat and dals or lentils. Haleem is said to be one of the original “generosity dishes”, meaning it was always prepared with the intention of sharing with others. So we frequently make haleem during Ramadan and share this protein riched stew with family and neighbourhood.
Haleem originates from Arabian countries where the dish is called Harees or Jareesh. Subsequently, this dish is introduced in the Indian subcontinent by Arabs and Indians are, later on, the people of Hyderabad modified it to suit their palate thus creating modern haleem.
A traditional haleem is made by firstly soaking wheat, barley,gram and lentil overnight. A spicy meat gravy called korma is prepared until the meat becomes tender. The wheat, barley,gram and lentils are boiled in salt water until they are tender. The cooked wheat, barley gram and lentils are then mixed with the meat gravy and blended with a heavy hand mixer to obtain a porridge-like consistency. The cooking procedure takes about 6 hours to complete. However, haleem preparation varies in different regions.
I learnt the haleem recipe from one of my Hyderabadi friends. I am sharing a modified recipe of hyderabadi haleem where I used fewer spices and ghee to make it comparatively light.
- Preparation time: 5 hour(including soaking time)
- Cooking time: 3 hour
- Difficulty level: Medium
- Serves: 8
- 1 handful broken Wheat or Barley
- 1 handful Toor dal(split red gram)
- 1 handful Masoor dal (red lentil)
- 1 handful Urad dal (split black gram)
- 1 handful Chana dal (split bengal gram)
- 1 handful Moong dal (split green dal)
- 600 grams boneless Mutton( you can use chicken also)
- 3 big Onions (Thinly sliced for beresta/fried onion)
- 2 Onions sliced for mutton korma
- 1 tablespoon Ginger-Garlic paste
- 1 big Tomato chopped
- 1 tablespoon red Chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon Curry powder
- 1 tablespoon haleem masala powder (homemade, recipe given)
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder+1/2 teaspoon more
- 2 tablespoon Mustard oil or any other variety for Korma
- 1 cup vegetable oil to fry onions (beresta)
- 1 cup yoghurt or curd
- 1 handful Cashew nuts
- 2 tablespoons Ghee
- 1 handful chopped Coriander-Mint leaves
- 1″ size Cinnamon stick
- 5-6 whole Black peppers
- 3 Cloves
- some Ginger juliennes to garnish
Ingredients of Haleem Masala
- 10-12 green Cardamom
- 3-4 small Cinnamon sticks
- 7-8 Cloves
- 12 black Peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds/Shahi jeera
- 1 small Mace/ Javitri
Take 1 handful each of all the dals/lentils and wheat/barley. Clean and soak them in water for 3-4 hours.
Cut the meat in small pieces. You can also use mutton/beef or chicken with bone-in. In that case, you have to discard bones after cooking.
Also cut onions very thin for fried onions or beresta. It’s very important to cut them thin and uniform. Also cut onions, tomato for mutton korma.
Step 1(Cooking the lentils and wheat)
When lentils and wheat are soaked for enough time, transfer them to a big saucepan with 2 litres of water. Bring to boil and then cook them in medium heat for about an hour with the lid on.
After an hour check the lentils and add in salt and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Cover and cook in medium heat for further 1/2 an hour or until wheat and lentils become soft and mushy.
When dal and wheat cook completely, take an electrical hand mixer and whisk or blend to make the dal smooth. If you don’t want to use a hand mixer, use a wooden whisk and whisk continuously to make the dal smooth. Keep flame in low heat during this time. When done remove from heat.
Step 2(cooking the meat)
For the haleem masala dry roast all the ingredients mentioned above for haleem masala and grind them to make powder.
Now, start cooking the meat. For that heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil in a pressure cooker and add in cinnamon, cloves and black peppers.
When nice aroma emits, add in chopped onions and saute for 3-4 minutes.
Add in ginger-garlic paste, stir and saute for another minute.
Now add in the mutton pieces and stir nicely.
Stir and fry the mutton for about 10 to15 minutes or until mutton becomes little brown in colour. Then add in chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, curry powder, haleem masala powder and salt.
Mix well to incorporate spices to the meat and continue to fry.
When the spices start releasing oil from the sides add in 1 cup of yoghurt.
Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes further.
Add in 1 and 1/2 cup of warm water and close the lid. Pressure cook in medium heat for about 30 minutes so that meat cooks completely. If you are using chicken then make the korma in a pan because chicken will cook easily in a pan.
When done remove from heat and wait to release the pressure of the cooker.
Then blend the cooked meat with the hand mixer so that meat pieces break down like keema or minced meat. If you are using meat with the bone in then discard the bones before blending. Don’t try to grind the meat completely in a grinder. The meat should be shredded to thin thread-like pieces. So mix carefully until you get the desired texture.
Step 3(making the haleem)
Add in this minced meat curry to the dal and bring to boil again.
Stir well so that meat combines well to the dal. Continue to cook in medium-low heat. The consistency of the mixture should be like porridge and the texture should be silken smooth with some the ad like feeling. You can use again hand mixer in this stage to make the haleem smooth.
Check the seasoning in this stage and adjust according to your choice. Let the haleem cook in low heat in this stage for 7-8 minutes.
In the meantime, fry the onions in 1 cup of oil to golden brown. Transfer to kitchen towel.
Add half of the fried onions to the haleem along with chopped coriander-mint leaves. You should be generous to add beresta and herbs. They are very essential to get the unique flavour of haleem. You can also add some minced green chillies if you like in this stage. Cook for 2 minutes more.
At last, fry some cashews in 2 tablespoon of ghee and add into the haleem along with ghee.
Give a final stir and remove from heat. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Garnish with some fried onions, chopped coriander-mint leaves, ginger julienne and fried cashews. Serve warm.