Haleem

Okay, before you raise your eyebrows and snigger, "Oh well, wasn't she going to give us a month-long of Bangali bliss?" let me assure you, I will deliver what I promised. This post (and the post that will follow next) are just aberrations from the general streak of Bong-ness I'm trying to hold on to this month. I know the timing for this Haleem post is far from perfect. But trust me, there was nothing I could do about it. I bought the mutton a few days before Eid. But then I collapsed with severe cough and cold. The day of Eid also happened to coincide with my birthday, so there were other things to take care of. And the haleem got delayed and delayed some more. But there is no such thing called bad timing when it comes to good food, and so my Haleem is going to make its grand appearance exactly after a week from Eid!
Haleem is basically a kind of meat and lentil stew that is popular in the Middle East and Central Asia. The mecca of Haleem in India is Hyderabad and Muslims in the country, as well as in Iran and Pakistan, feast on Haleem in the holy month of Ramzan.

Now my mother happens to be the Queen of short cuts. If I need to observe her cooking something and I tell her, "You start off, I'll join you in a minute", chances are likely that when I actually join her she's done with the deal. Not surprisingly, when I told her I was planning to cook Haleem and it would take a minimum of 4 hours, she looked at me in disbelief and said, "Duh! Why don't you use the pressure cooker?" Not one to be cowed down, I duh-ed her back and retorted, "If the pressure cooker could solve the entire world's problems that thing called dum-pukht cooking wouldn't have evolved. Get it?" But evidently she did not get it.
Later that day, when I sat on youtube, looking for Haleem tutorials, I bumped into a Sanjeev Kapoor video. Now I respect the man a lot and never ever have his recipes failed me. And guess what I found out? SK was actually using a pressure cooker to make his Haleem. I promise. I'm dead serious. Following his method would mean that the entire exercise would be over in an hour and fifteen minutes time, and trust me, who wouldn't get lured at the prospect? (Moreover, did I really have four hours' time for slow-cooking?) I kind of mumbled a mental sorry to my mother and told her nonchalantly, "Well, I've decided to save your gas for two and a half hours. You can thank me for it later!"
And thus began my Haleem quest. I followed Sanjeev Kapoor's method, but used my own ingredients. The result, if I may be allowed to say so, was almost at par with (and from what my father said, "Much better than") what I've had at various restaurants over the month of Ramzan. It's sans oil, and uses just a tiny bit of ghee as the final touch. Well, 2-3 tbsp to be precise, but that totally gets lost in the insane quantity of the haleem that is good enough to feed an Army.
Recipe method adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazaana, with a few extra ingredients thrown in
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

Mutton, cut into pieces (with or without bones): 750 gm
Broken wheat/daliya: 1/2 cup
Urad dal: 1/4 cup
Chana dal: 1/4 cup
Moong dal: 1/4 cup
Masoor dal: 1/4 cup
Yoghurt: 1 cup
Onions, fried and caramelised: 4
Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
Garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Shahi jeera/Caraway seeds: 1 tsp
Peppercorns: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Chaat masala: 1 tsp
Mint/pudina leaves: a handful
Green chilli paste: 1 tbsp
Ghee: 2-3 tbsp
Mutton stock/Water: 5 cups
Milk: 4-5 tbsp
Salt, to taste

Method:

1. Soak the broken wheat and the lentils separately overnight. Marinade the mutton pieces with yoghurt and a little salt and refrigerate overnight as well.

2. In a pressure cooker, assemble the lentils, broken wheat, mutton pieces, ginger and garlic paste, green chilli paste, peppercorns, caraway seeds, 3/4th of the fried onions, mint leaves, all the powdered masalas and some salt. Add 5 cups of mutton stock/water and give a good stir. Cook it on high for one whistle and then lower the heat and allow to cook for 40 minutes. Your house will be bathed with a wonderful Haleem-y smell by now.

3. Turn the gas off after 40 minutes and allow the pressure cooker to open on its own. The lentils and meat will be cooked by this time. Scoop out the pieces of meat, and with a hand blender, pulse the remaining gravy to form a smooth-ish paste. At the same time, make sure you leave some chunks and not make the whole thing a liquid mess.

4. Turn the gas on again, put the mutton pieces back into the gravy, add the ghee and some milk and stir till everything is well incorporated and the texture is right. Season with salt (if need be), and cook for some more time, say another 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly.

5. Sprinkle the remaining fried onions on top and serve hot with tandoori roti or naan.

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Comments

  1. Dude this looks damn simple as against the complex taste ;) awsome. Am trying it out soon.

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  2. Yay! You did it! Looks delicious!! Adding it to my to-do list!

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  3. I like the idea of hand blending the meat. Something new. Not to mention your Haleem looks heavenly.. I could drool all day... just super good.. so happening in my kitchen soon :)

    Nandini

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  4. Thank you so much, everybody. Do let me know once you try this. This is so simple it really had me worried at a point. :P

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