Haleem, Harees, Alsa or alisa, this dish is a traditional dish found in the south Indian state of Hyderabad. Though its origin is stated to Persian and Arab countries, the Hyderabadi version has taken the world by storm. And this is the first non vegetarian dish to get a GIS registry (geographical indication status) by the Indian GIS registry. Haleem is nothing but a stew composed mainly of wheat along with some pulses.
Haleem is now the calling card for Brand Hyderabad. The dish that was once served at an occasional party by Sultan Saif Najaf Jung of Mukalla, has become an integral part of Iftaar and the month of Ramzan. How this simple breakfast dish of meat and wheat gruel of Arab and West Asian origin became Indian is a fascinating story of sheer luck, entrepreneurship and adaptability. “Sultan Saif Najaf Jung, who lived near Charminar, used to serve haleem on special occasions. His family hailed from Mukalla, which was then a British protectorate, and had settled down in India since generations before. It was Saif Najaf Jung who suitably modified it for the Indian palate.
As is so far claimed by many great historians, the Hyderabadi Haleem for sure has originated in Saudi Arabia but it garnered all it’s popularity and perfection only in Hyderabad. Haleem is a rare delicacy made of pounded Goat meat and in some cases Sheep meat…Apart from meat, Haleem also contains many rich spices that not only make Haleem an amazing delicacy to eat but also a very user friendly delicacy that offers many health benefits.
Ramadan is the most important festival for Muslims of the Islamic religion and Haleem is a specially made non vegetarian delicacy that’s served only during this holy month of Ramadan. According to the Islamic calendar,the ninth month of the year is an auspicious month for all the Muslims around the world during which period,it is believed, the Holy Quran was revealed to humanity. Hence,as a mandatory custom, most of Muslims all over the world observe strict fasting during the daylight hours of this holy month and in between the Sun rise time and the Sun set time of each day, they do not allow any food or even water touch their tongue..
Haleem, is a kind of sticky substance that’s made of pounded meat to which pure ghee, lentil leaves, nuts, dry fruits and other rich spices, which are added to give it that great taste, look and aromatic flavor. And when all these ingredients are properly pounded together the final mix becomes Haleem, the tastiest and the most mouth watering delicacy on the planet…
Since it is very rich in spices, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids-Haleem is not only being consumed for it’s rich aromatic taste but also for it’s amazing aphrodisiac qualities and instant energy giving factor . There are different versions for this. In our region and in the area countries, the wheat is cooked with lamb and mashed up. Then milk or coconut milk is added and reduced. Finally it is garnished with shallots, by frying them in ghee. We add sugar while reducing it with coconut milk whereas in Arab regions, they make it bland and is served with ghee, sugar or some korma or soup.
Hyderabadi version is completely different from the regular version. People prefer the savory version than the sweet version. Hence I went with the savory version as well as this sought after version. Traditionally its made with lamb, hence I opted for it, chicken is extensively used to make this dish in Hyderabad. I wanted to feed my son some lamb, so I opted for this lamb version.
This dish is a food which is made taking several hours of cooking and stirring. The home version also takes 3-4 hours of cooking if done in the traditional way. I’ve made an easy version in pressure cooker. I used a hand blender for mashing up the meat and wheat. Originally this is done with a wooden mash manually by hand so that you can feel the texture of wheat and meat. Since it needs a lot of time, tedious work out for your hands and time consuming, I found out easy ways to cook up this dish in a simple way.
The tempering is the highlight of this dish, as it takes this dish to another level, bringing in a perfect balance to the whole dish. This is a complete meal, with many health benefits and fulfilling too.
Soak the wheat in water overnight or 3 hours before cooking thoroughly cleaning before soaking.
Soak the pulses in water 2 hours before cooking
Slice the onions finely and chop the mint and coriander .
Heat a pan with oil and ghee. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and all spices. Let it crackle.
Add the onions and sauce till wilted by adding salt to initiate the cooking process faster and for dehydrating the onions.
Then add the crushed chillies and ginger garlic paste. Saute till aromatic.
Add the lamb and give a quick stir. Add in few big chunks of bones to bomb with flavors. Stir.
Add the yoghurt, combine followed by mint and coriander leaves. Mix up everything.
Add the wheat and lentils and integrate till well combined.
Add the water and mix up well. Stick the lid on and pressure cook for 30 minutes, first 15 minutes on high flame and second 15 minutes on low flame.
When the steam is released, take the bones out. Mash up roughly using a hand mixer.
Adjust salt and add 1/2 cup greek yoghurt or regular yoghurt. Combine.
Simmer till you get thick sticky paste.
Heat a pan with generous amount of ghee. Add the sliced onions. Fry till golden brown.
Serve the hale in individual serving bowls. Top it with fried shallots, ghee, mint , coriander and lime wedges.