Haleem is normally prepared during Ramzan – the Muslim fasting month. It is made of grains and meat. Traditionally mutton was used, but nowadays a chicken variant is also available. The dish uses a number of spices and is slow cooked over a low flame for many hours. Conventionally haleem was prepared over a coal fire, but modern cooking appliances have made it possible to get the same results in lesser time. The slow cooking resulted in the dish's unique paste-like texture.
Haleem is said to be introduced to the Nizam of Hyderabad's Army by Arab soldiers. The dish is said to date way back to the 10th century. It remains a popular dish in the Arab world as well but is called Hareesa. Haleem is a signature dish of Hyderabad. During Ramzaan, famous restaurants like the 'Pista House' courier this specialty to many cities across India and overseas. Orders for the same can be placed online.
Since the dish contains various grains and meat, it is quite nutritious. It is especially rich in protein, minerals and vitamins and has a good amount of fibre in it.
Here is a recipe of the dish that can be made at home. It is not one of the easiest dishes to cook, since it needs constant attention and takes a long time to cook.
Here is what you will need –
• 750 grams lean meat cut really small (preferably from the shoulder)
• 300 grams bones
• 750 grams onions (sliced fine and fried to a crispy brown)
• 1 ½ tbsp freshly ground ginger paste
• 1 ½ tbsp freshly ground garlic paste
• 2 medium onions ground to a paste
• 1 big bunch of mint leaves
• 1 tbsp saunf powder
• ½ tsp of each of the following ingredients pounded into a fine powder – black pepper (kali mirch), carom seeds (ajwain), cumin seeds (zeera) and Nigella (kalonji)
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 8-10 green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
• 2 bay leaves (tej patta)
• 5 cloves (laung)
• 3 sticks cinnamon (dalchini)
• 6-8 green chillies chopped fine
• 2-3 tbsp ginger juliennes
• 3 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 big ladle mustard oil
• 2 tbsp pure ghee
• 200 grams each of wheat and barley (jau) *
• 100 grams each of chana dal and dhuli urad dal *
• 50 grams each of red masoor dal, split mung dal and broken grains of rice *
• 4 tbsp coriander powder dry roasted
• 2 tsp turmeric powder
• 20 -25 dry red chillies, dry roasted and ground to a powder
• 2 tbsp oats
Here is what you will need to do as preparation –
• Soak all ingredients marked with an asterisk(*) symbol in enough water for 8-10 hours (preferably overnight)
• Into a deep vessel (a dekchi will do) add half the mustard oil, paste of onion, garlic and ginger, salt, powdered turmeric, coriander, saunf and garam masala to make a marinade
• Add the mutton pieces and the bones to the marinade and mix well – cover the container and refrigerate overnight
The cooking process -
• The next morning place all the asterisk marked ingredients that you had soaked overnight into a pressure cooker, along with some salt, a dash of turmeric, a cinnamon stick and some water and pressure cook on medium flame for up to six whistles – the grains must become soft and mushy
• Heat the balance mustard oil in another vessel and add the tej patta, elaichi, laung and balance dalchini – once the stuff begins spluttering add the kali mirch, ajwain, kalonji, zeera powders
• Stir the mix and add the marinated meat and bones
• Cook this well, stirring periodically, until the oil separates – add water if needed and continue cooking to ensure the meat becomes really soft (for about 3-4 hours)
• Remember the onions that were browned earlier, crush a big handful and add to the meat along with finely chopped pudina leaves and mix well
• To the meat mix add the cooked grains and mix the whole thing well – add water and set the vessel on a low flame and continue cooking for another hour, stirring in between to avoid the haleem getting stuck in the vessel - the mix will now have a consistency that can best be compared to that of 'halwa'
• Add oats and mix well – remove from the flame
• Stir in the desi ghee and lemon juice and mix well
• Haleem is now ready – scoop it onto a serving dish and garnish with ginger juliennes, fried onions, green chillies and mint leaves.
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