Traditional Haleem Recipe

Haleem is a very popular stew in the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Central Asia, each with their own variations. Haleem can be solely vegetarian or have meat. The most common variation, consists of pulses, meats (beef or chicken or mutton), and wheat or barley. It is the perfect meal to break one’s fast with. In Pakistan, it is popular during Ramadan and Muharram (the first month of Islamic calendar). I learned how to cook Haleem from my neighbour in grade 10 and I still make Haleem to this day.

It is cooked on low heat for several hours. Haleem is garnished with chopped green chillies, chopped coriander, chopped mint, fried onion, and julienne ginger, accompanied with a slice of onion and lemon. Served hot with naan or rice. Haleem is not only delicious, but also full of nutritions.

Serves 8 people

How to make:

Ingredients for Lentils

  • 3 cups Bulgur, cracked wheat (Dalia)
  • ½ cup Black Gram (Maash Daal or Urad Daal)
  • ½ cup Red Lentils (Masoor Daal)
  • ½ cup Yellow Lentils (Moong Daal)
  • ¼ cup Bengal Gram (Chana Daal)
  • ¼ cup Rice
  • 1 ½ tbsp of Salt
  • ¼ tbsp Turmeric Powder
  • 5 cups Water

Preparation for Lentils

  1. Combine lentils and grains, and wash with water.
  2. In large heavy bottomed pot, add lentils and grains, salt, turmeric and water.
  3. Bring lentils to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover with lid, cook for 2 hours. (*In the meantime, place another large pot on another stove, follow the preparation instructions for meat listed below).
  1. When the lentils become soft, blend with a immersion blender in the same pot with the heat still on low. Blend until it is smooth then keep aside.

Ingredients for Meat

  • 1 ½ kilogram beef with bone (*You can use chicken or mutton as well)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 inch chopped ginger
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 5 Whole spices (aka. whole garam masala includes: 1 inch cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 5 black pepper, 2 black cardamom, 4 green cardamom)
  • 1 ½ tbsp garam masala powder
  • ½ tbsp nutmeg powder (Jaifal powder)
  • ½ tbsp mace powder (Javitri powder)
  • 3 tbsp yogurt
  • ⅓ cup (or 5 ⅓ tbsp) vegetable oil

Preparation for meat

  1. In another large pot, add all ingredients except yogurt, garam masala powder and vegetable oil.
  2. Cook on high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. After 5 minutes, cover the pot with lid, then cook on low heat for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
  4. After 2 hours, increase heat to high then add oil and stir for 5 minutes.
  1. After 5 minutes, add yogurt and garam masala powder, mix well and stir for 10 minutes or cook until oil comes to the surface. (*a tasty meat curry makes for a better Haleem :D).
  2. Put the burner on low and remove the meat from gravy with a slotted spoon and set the meat aside to cool. Also, discard the bay leaves.
  3. After the meat has cooled down, remove bones from meat and shred the meat.
  4. Add the shredded meat to the gravy, blend with an immersion blender, until meat becomes a paste.
  1. Now, add all the lentils and grains (that you kept aside in a different pot) into the meat and stir with a wooden spoon. (*this step is known as ghotna).
  1. Stir for least 10 minutes until everything is combined and the Haleem gets a sticky texture. At this stage, you can check the salt.
  2. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes and your Haleem is ready and just needs tempering (which is also known as baghaar in Urdu).

Tempering (Baghaar):

  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions slices
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  1. Heat oil in small pan on medium heat and add onion slices.
  2. Fry onions until golden brown.
  3. Turn off heat and add cumin seeds.
  1. Now, add half of fried onions into your haleem pot. The remaining half fried onions are kept aside for garnish.

For Garnish

  • 1 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • ½ cup chopped mint leaves
  • 3 sliced green chilies
  • 1 onion, cut into slices
  • Remaining half fried onions
  • 1 lemon, squeezed for juice
  • 2 inches julienned ginger
  • Chaat masala to taste
  •  ¼ cup of hot vegetable oil

To serve, take Haleem in serving plate then garnish with fried onions, chillies, ginger, mint and coriander leaves, raw onion slices and few drops of lemon juice. Then pour 1 tsp of hot oil on bowl. Serve hot with rice or naan.

**Optional: You can used an Instant pot or pressure cooker to save time. For an Instant pot, you can have the lentils, grains and meat in one pot instead of two.

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