Haleem~II:a gastronomic delight

Brr, its cold outside. Curled up on my sofa under a soft quilt and enjoying the season with a bowl of haleem topped with fried onions, fresh herbs, ghee and few fried cashew nuts along with a splash of fresh lemon juice provides me the warmth and nourishment and makes me hopelessly nostalgic.

Haleem, a porridge made with wheat, pulses, meat, ghee is a classic Hyderabadi delicacy which has Persian origins. Back home in restaurants it is cooked in large amounts in huge cauldrons called as degh for hours together along with a range of exotic spices and other aromatics and pounded continually, until it resembles a velvety gruel like consistency. At homes, we use pressure cookers and processors to quicken the process.

This savory Ramadan speciality has a wonderful taste, and a delicious aroma. Haleem is usually prepared during the month of Ramadan(the ninth holy month of the Muslim calender in which Muslims observe fast from sunrise to sunset) and enjoyed at Iftaar and Suhoor, as it has got all the goodness to sustain and nurture a fasting body.

broken wheat and wheat grains

Below is my Ammi’s version of Haleem, I had also posted an another version Haleem here a while back. A yogurt qorma is prepared and mixed with the wheat+dal+meat mixture and cooked until the flavors marry and the desired consistency is achieved. My mother in law always prefers wheat grains over broken wheat for Haleem. I use broken wheat as it cooks faster.

Hyderabadi Haleem – Lentils, Wheat and Meat Porridge


Boneless Lamb meat – 500 gms (or) Lamb meat with bone – 700 gms [preferably leg] – cut into small pieces
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Chana dal – 100 gms
Broken wheat – 250 gms
For Qorma:
White poppy seeds/Khuskhus – 1 tsp
Chironji nuts – 1 tsp
Chopped almonds and cashewnuts – 1 tbsp each
Canola oil – 4-5 tbsp
Onions – 3, large, finely sliced
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 2
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Dry Roasted Kababchini powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chillies – 4, each broken into two
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly whisked
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamom seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice – 1/4 cup/60 ml/4 tbsp
For Garnish
finely chopped Cilantro, and Mint leaves
Crisply fried onions
Lemon juice
Fried cashew nuts
sliced/chopped Green chillies

Haleem, garnished with fried onions, fresh herbs, green chillies, nuts and lemon juice


1. In a pressure cooker, add the meat, ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt and pour in 1 cup water. Pressure cook until the meat is about 3/4th done.
2. Meanwhile soak chana dal and broken wheat for 30 minutes in fresh cool water. As soon as the meat is done, transfer the meat with all its juices into a bowl. Keep aside to cool.
3. Drain the soaking dal and keep aside. In the same pressure cooker, add the dal and broken wheat and pour in 4 cups of fresh cool water and pressure cook for a few minutes until the mixture is soft. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, shred the cooked meat and put it back into its juices and keep aside in a bowl. Discard bones.
4. Soak khuskhus, chironji nuts, cashewnuts and almonds in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Grind them into a smooth puree.
5. In a food processor or a blender, add the cooked dal and the cooked broken wheat along with any remaining water in which it was boiled and process until well blended.
6. In a large thick bottomed non-stick saucepan at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry it until evenly golden brown in color. Using a slotted spoon transfer half of the fried onions onto a platter, scatter so that they cool and crisp up in a while, use these fried onions for garnish later on. Meanwhile, in the pan with the fried onions, lower the heat and add cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, kababchini power, green chillies and cumin seed powder. Stir fry for 10-20 secs. Add the yogurt. Mix well. Add the pureed nuts mixture and mix well. Add red chilli powder, black pepper powder and salt. Half cover and cook stirring occasionally until it leaves oil. Add the blended wheat+dal mixture and the shredded meat with all its juices and mix well. Pour in 2 cups water, and add garam masala powder and cardamom powder. Mix well. Cover and let cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat when the desired consistency of a thick porridge is achieved. Ladle in serving plates, garnish and serve warm.

This is my contribution to the “The Hyderabadi Bakr-Eid Food Festival-’09” that I am hosting on my blog. The event is on and you can all send me your Bakr-Eid special recipes before December 31, 2009. Click on the link or the logo for more details.


Tala huwa Gosht~I

Perhaps one of the most simplest yet ambrosial meat preparations, made very often in Hyderabadi households, that I love to prepare for my family is Tala huwa Gosht, which means Sautéed meat. Simple seasonings, an aromatic baghaar, and lemon juice are the main flavoring ingredients.

Tala huwa Gosht – Sautéed meat in aromatic spices and herbs

Enjoy this delicious Hyderabadi meat preperation along with Tamatar ki dal, or Khatti dal and Baghara Chawal or plain Khushka.

Tala huwa Gosht – Sautéed meat in aromatic spices and herbs


Boneless Veal/Mutton meat – 650 gms, washed and drained, cut into small bite size pieces
Sliced yellow onions – 100 gms
Water – 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp
For Baghaar:

Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Cilantro – 1/4 cup, finely chopped, loosely packed
Mint leaves – 1/4 cup, finely chopped, loosely packed
Green chillies – 4, each cit into two, then slit into halves in the middle

Black papper powder – 1/2 tsp
Kawabchini – 1/2 tsp, dry roasted in a stovetop frying pan and cooled; once cooled, finely powdered
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp


1. In a pressure cooker, add the meat, onion, water, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and ginger-garlic paste. Mix well. Cover and pressure cook for a few minutes until the meat is soft and tender. Make sure it not tough at all.
2. Meanwhile, in a kadai or wok at medium high heat, prepare Baghaar. Pour in oil and as soon as it warms up add the cumin seeds. As the seeds splutter, add the curry leaves, finely chopped cilantro and mint, slit green chillies and fry for just a few seconds and remove from heat. Keep aside.
3. Once the meat is done, let it cook uncovered until all of the liquid has been evaporated. Once almost dry, add it all to the baghaar in the kadai and mix well. Add black pepper power, kawabchini powder and lemon juice. Cook it for 5-10 minutes in the kadai at medium heat and serve immediately.

This recipe is also being featured in the HomeAway.co.uk Travel Cookbook.



Kawabchini ~ whole dried berries

Kawabchini in Urdu language (also referred to as Kababchini or Jungli Laung in Urdu language) or Dried Cubeb berries, is different than Allspice and Black Peppercorns. They are all distictively dissimilar to each other in their properties and appearances. Cubeb can be differentiated from other spices by its distinctive ‘tail’. They are dried unripe fruits of a member of the vine family, and mostly grown in the wild.

Kababchini is not a common spice and hence unknown to many people, yet if you search for it, it may be available in selected stores in North America and elsewhere. In Saudi Arab and India, this spice is quite easily available.

When buying Kawabchini, buy whole spice, and grind it to fine powder at home in only required amount needed while cooking. When dry roasted for a few seconds on a stove top pan and powdered, a pungent spicy-peppery aroma of this spice emanates (similar to that of cloves and black pepper). It is added in powdered form in very little quantities to mostly red meat preparations, like Dum ke Kawabs, Dum ka Qimah, Haleem, etc.


For a Cause

I love the aroma of spices. Spices are so essential in my cooking, I could never imagine my pantry to be devoid of any spices.

Qimah Dum

One such dish that fills my house with a delectable aroma of infused spices is Qimah Dum. The main ingredient in this dish is Kababchini (also called as Jungli Laung) or Dried Cubeb berries. Minced meat is cooked by the method of Dum Pukth.

Dum pukht is the Hyderabadi method of cooking by locking up steam. Earlier, the aluminium or brass cooking pots or vessels called as deg/degchi/lagan with the foodstuff inside were sealed with atta dough around the lid so that no steam could escape and the moisture stays in. The pot was then allowed to sit on blazing coals to slow cook. A few of the burning coals were also placed on the lid to evenly distribute the heat from both top and bottom. The food inside cooked on dum subsumes all the flavors and aroma in the tightly sealed pot/deg. A modern conventional oven fulfils this need for us.

I prepare two varieties of Qimah Dum, altering a few flavors here and there to create new tastes. This particular version is one of my favorites.

Val at More Than Burnt Toast, Giz at Equal Opportunity Kitchen and  Ivy at Kopiaste…to Greek Hospitalilty together have created the Blogger Aid, a network of bloggers working together for a cause, to help alleviate world hunger. Their latest project is a cookbook, contributed by foodies. The cookbook is targeted for sale on Amazon by December 2009 with 100% of the profit from the sales going to the World Food Programme. Tomorrow is the last date to submit your recipe as a contribution to this cookbook. So please do send in your original recipes if you wish to contribute.

My recipe for Qimah Dum is a contribution to this cookbook – ‘Blogger Aid Cookbook’. To go through the recipe for Qimah Dum, you have to purchase the cookbook once it is out for sales.

Update: The cookbook has been published and it can be bought here. So do purchase the book, and spread the word.