Hyderabadi Chicken Haleem – Harees

Haleem is meat delicacy, especially enjoyed during the month of Ramadan in India and Pakistan. In Hyderabad, one can see all restaurants begin to sell Haleem as soon as Ramadan commences. Tiny Haleem stalls pop up at every nook and corner, and people of all faiths enjoy it. It is the city’s most induldent dishes. Haleem is not as easily available the rest of the year in restaurants in India.

Haleem is originally an Arabic dish, brought to Hyderabad by the immigrants of Yemen, Iran and Afghanistan. It has all the nutrients a fasting body requires at the end of the day.

Home cooked Haleem is the best. So today I am sharing with you all my simple recipe for Chicken Haleem. I have posted two versions of Haleem earlier on my blog. You can try them all.

Hyderabadi Chicken Haleem – Harees

Ingredients:
Serves – 6-8

Boneless Chicken Breast – 2 (if large chicken); 3 (if small chicken) – cut into cubes
Marinade:
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Haleem:
Chana dal – 100 gms
Broken wheat – 250 gms
For Qorma:
White poppy seeds/Khuskhus – 1 tsp
Chopped almonds and cashewnuts – 1 tbsp each
Canola oil – to deep fry
Onions – 3, large, finely sliced
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 2
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
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
Ghee
Fried cashew nuts
sliced/chopped Green chillies

Method:

1. Soak chana dal and broken wheat for 30 minutes in fresh cool water.
2. In a mixing bowl, add the cubed chicken breast, ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt. Mix well and let marinate to 1-2 hours. In a frying pan at medium high heat, pour 1 tbsp of oil add the marinated chicken and cook while turning the chicken pieces until done. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool.
3. Drain the soaking dal and the broken wheat and transfer them to a non-stick saucepan. Pour in 4 cups of fresh cool water and let cook while stirring frequently until the mixture is soft. This might take 1-3 hours. You can also pressure cook if you would like to save time, but I like to slow cook it. Add more water if needed to cook. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, shred the cooked chicken and keep aside in a bowl.
4. Soak 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 and process until well blended.
6. In a deep frying pan at medium high heat, pour oil to deep fry and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and fry it stirring constantly 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.
7. In a large non-stick saucepan, add 4 tbsp oil, lower the heat and add cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, green chillies and cumin seed powder. Stir fry for 10-20 secs. Add the yogurt and cook until separates. 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 chicken meat and mix. 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.

Luv,
Mona

Tamatar ka Saalan

I remember my Ammi used to prepare all the dishes she wanted to serve at parties and events which my parents used to host during our childhood with her own two hands in her own little kitchen. Sometimes a maid would come for help when the party was large, but it was all under Ammi‘s strict supervision. She never opted for ordering food from a catering company or something like that. I have very vague memories when my mother was young and we were little kids, of the parties and the array of traditional food she used to prepare. I did not have an interest in cooking back then. I never entered the kitchen to help Ammi with parathas in the mornings or helping her with cutting and preparing vegetables on the weekends at the least. I regret, I wish I had paid attention and worked along with her. I was either busy studying, or being rebellious like a typical teenage child. It was only when I choose Nutrition as my subject that my curiosity for cooking evolved.

Today I call my Ammi and ask her on the phone of the doubts I get, but I lost the best chance of actually learning from her in action. I have learnt that sitting and enjoying meals in ones parents house is a blessing. But one should try to develop interest in all that is offered for them to learn at their parents house, from learning their mothers cooking, to the hobbies they master, to the little traditions they follow, because life while at parents house is the best time to learn from the best teachers you will ever get in your life. Parents should also encourage children to develop interest in learning to cook and teach them from a tender age, atleast so that they get in touch with their traditional activities and so that all that does not get lost with time. I am glad alhamdulillah I am able to document and preserve my family’s recipes through my blog, and this way help many young woman alongside as well.

Just like the famous Mirchi ka Saalan and Baghare Baingan, Tamatar ka Saalan is also ubiquotous to Hyderabadi cuisine. All these three mentioned curries, the perfect sides to a Biryani, have the same base gravy, with only brinjals in Baghare Baingan, chillies in Mirchi ka Saalan and tomatoes here in Tamatar ka Saalan. You can also add fish to the same curry base and you get Machli ka Saalan. I have used cherry tomatoes for the curry. Usually regular tomatoes are used which are simply cut into two halves. Tamatar ka Saalan is also referred to as Bagharay Tamatar by some people.

Cherry Tomatoes

Whenever in Hyderabad, I recommend food enthusiasts to attend high class weddings of traditional muslim Hyderabadi families in order to get in touch with the traditional Hyderabadi food which is not very easily available in restaurants or hotels. Or if you are lucky, enjoy home cooked traditional meals locally at a friends house.

Tamatar ka Saalan/Bagharay Tamatar – Tomatoes simmered in a creamy fragrant sauce

Ingredients:

Cherry Tomatoes – 8 (or medium sized tomatoes, each cut into two semi circles)
For masala paste:
Khus Khus/White Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp
Till/Sesame Seeds – 1/2 cup/50 gms
Groundnuts/MoomPhalli – 1/2 cup/50 gms
Dry Desiccated Coconut – 3/4 cup/50 gms
Coriander seeds/Dhania – 1 tsp
For gravy:
Canola oil – 1/4 cup
Yellow Onions – 3, large, each quartered into 4 pieces
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric/ Haldi – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro/ Kothmir – 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Thick tamarind pulp – 3 tbsp
For baghaar/tempering:
Cumin seeds/ Zeera – 1 tsp
Curry leaves/ Kariyapaak – 2 sprigs
Mustard seeds/ Rai – 1/2 tsp
Nigella seeds/ Kalaunji – 1/3 tsp
Fenugreek seeds/ Methi dana – 1/8 tsp

Tamatar ka Saalan/Bagharay Tamatar – Tomatoes simmered in a creamy fragrant sauce

Method:

1. Wash the cherry tomatoes well. Discard the stalks and make four incisions, perpendicular cuts (an X) from the stem end of each cherry tomato, taking care the other end is intact. Keep aside.
2. Puree the onions into a smooth paste. Also, smoothly/finely grind all the ingredients seperately under the heading ‘for masala paste’ adding just a few drops of water if needed.
3. Heat oil in a heavy non-stick pan at medium heat and as soon as it is warm, add the baghaar ingredients – cumin seeds, curry leaves, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the pureed onion paste and mix. Cover with a lid for a minute. Uncover and keep frying until the raw smell of the onions goes away. Add ginger garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and chopped cilantro and the masala paste and mix well. Keep cooking until the raw smell of the masala paste goes away and you can see the paste leaving oil on the sides. Add a few drops of water if needed during the process. This might take about 5-10 minutes. Later add tamarind pulp and mix well. Now pour in about 4-5 cups of water (or less) and mix. Let it come to a boil. Once boiling, add the prepared tomatoes and cover with a lid. Let cook for 5 minutes. Once the tomatoes are soft, remove from heat and serve the curry along with Pulao or Biryani. (In the picture you can see that I have prepared a loose consistency of the curry. You can cook it furthur until you achieve the desired consistency. The preferred consistency of this curry is semi-loose.)

On an another note, my blog has been selected for Best Of Indian Blogosphere 2010 polls by blogjunta.com. Please vote for me here.
Thanks.

Luv,
Mona

Lagan Ka Murgh

During my recent trip to Hyderabad, I got to do a lot of things that I had been wanting to do since long. I attended many weddings and enjoyed the traditional food serving there, brought along Lamsa tea mix which is something solely available in Hyderabad city, spices, and a few of the Indian utensils that were missing in my kitchen here depending on the weight limitations. I wish there was a little more allowance so that I could have got more.

Lagan – Indian utensil

Lagan is an Indian utensil that is wide, thick walled with a slightly curved thick bottom. I do not know if this is available and used in other parts of India as well. I brought along a medium sized lagan to use in my daily cooking. Mostly, this utensil is used to prepare dough in it, but it is also used to cook other dishes as well.

Since I had landed here in Toronto, I wanted to treat hubby dear with some special dishes, so I thought to prepare this simple yet exotic chicken curry. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, but it turned out superb. My hubby was a happy man, he enjoyed several servings of this curry along with rice and licked the plate clean.

Marinating the chicken and then slow cooking it in the masala does the trick. If you do not have a lagan to cook this dish in, you can simply use any heavy bottomed pan instead.

Lagan Ka Murgh ~ Slow-cooked Creamy Chicken curry in Aromatic Spices

White Poppy Seeds/Khus Khus – 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 1/8 cup
Warm milk – 3/4 cup
Chicken – 8 chicken leg pieces (or 650 gms with bone or boneless chicken cut into bite size pieces)
Thick Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Canola oil – 4 tbsp
Onions – 3, medium sized, finely sliced
Cloves – 4
Green cardamoms – 4
Dried Bay leaf/Tej patta – 1
Tomato – 1, large, pureed
Garam masala powder – 3/4 tsp
Cilantro/Kothmir – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Lagan Ka Murgh ~ Slow-cooked Creamy Chicken curry in Aromatic Spices

Method:

1. In a small cup, add khus khus and cashewnuts. Pour in warm milk and let soak for 20-25 minutes. Later puree it into a smooth paste.
2. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder. Mix well and keep aside for 30-40 minutes.
3. In a lagan or any thick bottomed vessel at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it is hot, add the sliced onions, two pinches of salt and fry while stirring constantly until they are golden brown in color. Add cloves, cardamoms and bay leaf. Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade and mix well. Add the prepared cashewnuts+khus khus+milk puree, and the tomato puree and mix well. Simmer, cover and let it cook slowly for 30-40 minutes. Keep stirring it every once in a while. You will see the oil will start to leave and the gravy will get thicker. Once done, sprinkle garam masala powder and chopped cilantro. Mix well and serve immediately.

Serve this creamy chicken curry warm along with hot Tandoori Naan, or Parathas or Khushka.

Luv,
Mona

Fish Maheqalya

Hyderabad does not boast of many seafood preparations. However come rainy season or the winter, we hyderabadis love to prepare a few very special close to heart dishes that are very specific to the Hyderabadi trpe of cooking. Today I am writing about one such fish curry. One of my most favorite fish curries, Machli ka Maheqalya, never fails to remind me of my grandmother. She used to prepare the most delicious Maheqalya ever.

Red Snapper Steaks

I usually prepare a mutton maheqalya or a fish maheqalya. Maheqalya is basically a sauce made with a range or aromatic spices and seasonings. It is a regional recipe from the city of Hyderabad usually prepared by Muslims. If you do not like fish or mutton, you can add add boiled eggs to the sauce to make it ando ka maheqalya, or you can also add sautéed bitter gourd rounds into the gravy for karelon ka maheqalya, or just opo squash pieces for kaddu ka maheqalia.

A perfect accompaniment to Maheqalya is Khadi dal and rice. My Ammi used to prepare and serve this for lunch or dinner usually on Jummah during my childhood.

Machli ka Maheqalya ~ Fish Maheqalya

Ingredients:

White/Yellow Onion – 2, large, sliced thick
Groundnut/Moomphalli – 3 tbsp, ground into a fine powder
Dry Desiccated Coconut – 3 tbsp
White poppy seeds/Khuskhus – 1 tbsp
Sesame seeds/Till – 3 tbsp
Tomatoes – 3, large, red and ripe, roughly chopped
Canola oil – 4 tbsp
Curry leaves – 1 or 2 fresh sprigs
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dried red chillies/Baghaar ki mirch – 3, each broken into two
Dry Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1 tsp
Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
Red Snapper steaks – 5-6 steaks (I had a medium sized red snapper cut into steaks) (preferred fish are rohu and murrel which are easily available in India, or you can also use salmon (wild) or king fish or any that you like with or without bones)
Cilantro/Kothmir – 1 tbsp, chopped finely

Machli ka Maheqalya ~ Fish Maheqalya

Method:

1. Take a large heavy bottom non-stick skillet on medium heat, and pour a tablespoon of oil into it. As it gets warm, add the sliced onions and a teaspoon of salt. Mix well and half cover with the lid. After 2-3 minutes, give a good stir to the onions, add 1/4 cup of water, and again half cover it with lid. Keep repeating this until the onions are all soft and browned evenly. Remove the pan from heat, and let them cool down. Once cooled, add the chopped tomatoes and the caramelized onions into a blender container or food processor and blend till pureed smooth adding a few drops of water if necessary, just to aid in the process. Keep aside.
2. Put a small non-stick frying pan on medium heat and dry-roast the groundnuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, shredded coconut, khuskhus each individually without oil till they are golden brown in colour. Do not burn them. Remove them into a cup (you can dry roast a handful of almonds and cashewnuts and grind them together along if you want a richer gravy). Once cool, grind them all together or individually until very fine. Make sure the obtained spice powder is very fine.
3. Take a large non-stick heavy bottomed saucepan and add a tablespoon of oil to it and put it on medium heat, add oil and keep it on medium high heat. Add cumin seeds, dried red chillies, curry leaves and fenugreek seeds to the oil and let them splutter. Now add the onion+tomato paste to it and cover the lid immediately for 3-5 minutes and remove the saucepan from heat, so that the aroma of the tempered oil with spices gets absorbed by the onion mixture. Remove the lid, put the saucepan back on stove and add the ginger-garlic pastes to it and stir to mix it all completely. Add the spice powder which we prepared earlier, the red chilli powder, salt and turmeric and stir it well. Lower the heat to medium low and let cook until it starts leaving oil. Pour in about 3 cups of water, and add the tamarind paste and give it a stir. Close the lid and increase the heat and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and gently lower the fish steaks into the gravy. Let it cook half covered for 15 minutes until the fish is done. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve warm.

Luv,
Mona

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

Ingredients:

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
Ghee
Fried cashew nuts
sliced/chopped Green chillies

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

Method:

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.

Luv,
Mona