Haleem is one of the most popular dishes available all over the streets, food stalls, restaurants etc. in the city of Hyderabad during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Hyderabadi Haleem is a type of stew consists of meat, lentils and pounded wheat which is cooked on slow heat for long hours to make a thick porridge like paste. This is served with ghee, browned onions, dash of lime juice and garnished with coriander leaves.
History states that Haleem originated as an Arabic dish and was introduced to the Hyderabad state by the Arab diaspora during the Nizam’s rule. It later became an integral part of Hyderabadi cuisine during the rule of the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. Saif Nawaz Jung Bahadur, an Arab chief from Hadhramaut, Yemen, who was among the Nizam’s court nobility, popularized Haleem in Hyderabad. Over a period of time, local influences brought modifications and changes to the original recipe and taste which made Hyderabadi Haleem distinct from other types of Haleem. Blended with regional traditional spices, this unique dish became a popular food among the native residents in the early 19th century.
Haleem with its origins in Persia is actually wheat porridge. A lip-smacking, aromatic delicacy prepared in Hyderabadi style is usually available during the month-long Ramadan. This delicacy is relished by hard-core meat-eaters. The dish is prepared with a mix of wheat, lentils, mutton and oodles of ghee and then hand-blended with large oar-shaped wooden spoons. Popular for its nutritional value, haleem takes up a daylong session as cooks gather to mash the wheat before adding it to the boiled meat and the spices. The dish is then garnished with a dash of mint and lemon.
Haleem is a special dish which is prepared throughout the world during Ramadan or Ramzan particularly with Pakistani and Indian Muslims. High in calories and very nutritious, it’s the perfect meal to break ones fast with. Legend has it that it takes one entire week to make a perfect dish of Haleem! Hyderabad is the epicentre of Haleem and in September 2010 Hyderabadi Haleem was given GIS (geographical indication status) status by the Indian GIS registry office, making it the first non-vegetarian dish in India to be listed as GIS.
From the popular monument, Charminar to the traditional attire Sherwanis worn during Ramadan and the traditional and exotic biryanis (mutton and chicken) signals the onset of Haleem frenzy. The aromatic fragrance of spices, meat etc. lingering around most eateries is the Hyderabadi Haleem which makes the city looks truly colourful, festive air with joy and harmony. Traditionally this thick pasty stew made of pounded wheat, lentils and mutton is served as a starter at formal dinners, but during Ramadan it takes centre stage and becomes the main course at Iftar – the breaking of the fast. Hundreds of makeshift stalls compete with regular eateries to cater to the seasonal demand. It is interesting to note that Haleem, like so many other ‘Hyderabadi’ dishes, is not a local invention. Hyderabad has a history of continuous influx of migrants from all over the world.
Over centuries, generations of Hyderabadis have shared and never let regional or national sentiments dictate their choice of cuisine. This is what makes the local cuisine so unique. Refinement has been the hallmark of the Hyderabadi gourmet. Biryani for instance is prepared all over India, but the Hyderabadi variety is supreme. There is much more to Hyderabadi cuisine than just Biryani and Haleem. For the connoisseur, the city offers an endless choice in food that includes Mughlai, Turkish, Afghani, European, Chinese, Telangana, Seemanshra dishes vie for space on the table with Dakhni preparations at feasts. A gourmand with an adventurous spirit will relish Chakna (hot spicy tripe stew with chunks of liver and kidneys) and Nihari (trotter soup) which is best eaten with the Kulcha (flat baked bread). There are other less adventurous dishes like the kebabs, kormas, pulaos, tandoori chicken and desserts like double ka meetha or kubani ka meetha to choose from.
If biryani is the staple of a die-hard Hyderabadi then Hyderbadi Haleem is another delicacy that is relished by many. Traditionally, the Haleem is being prepared with meat but to reach out to the entire vegetarian connoisseur, the haleem goes green. The preparation and procedure being the same, but added with mixed vegetables and dry fruits using the same spices and seasoning to bring out the right flavours and taste. Finally the final product surely look alluring and appetizing with carrots, beans and potatoes cooked with pulses and wheat, coarsely ground and garnished with crisp fried onions to be served with a dash of mint and lemon.
Hyderabadi Haleem is a simple yet delicious dish to prepare at home. Firstly take pan and add 1 tbsp of ghee. Add half the whole spices (peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and kabob chini), cumin seeds, shahi jeera and lightly fry. Add lentils (channa dal, masoor dal, yellow moong dal and barley), wheat and sesame seeds (optional). Roast all the ingredients on a slow flame till they get flavourful. Do not brown the ingredients. Put this in the blender and blend to a coarse powder and keep aside.
Take a pressure cooker and add 1 tbsp ghee. When it gets hot, add the remaining half of whole spices. Once they sizzle, add sliced onions, salt and sauté well till they turn golden in colour. Add little turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste, green chillies cut into two halves and sauté well till the raw flavours of ginger and garlic are gone. Add one kg meat (lamb meat with bones) and sauté. To this add enough water to cover the meat (the meat too will ooze out its moisture during the cooking process). Wait till the cooker gives one whistle and then simmer the flame and cook for another one hour until the meat is very tender.
In another pressure cooker, add the coarse spices, wheat and lentils powder. Add water, 3 times the quantity of the ingredients and cook till the cooker gives one whistle and then reduce the flame, remove the lid and cook for another half hour. Check the consistency and add water at this time.
After half hour, switch off the flame and mash the mixture well till it gets silky, pasty and soft. Take the meat and mash well. Remove the big bones if any. Take a wide mouth big handi or heavy bottomed vessel, add the meat mixture first and then the wheat mixture and mix well. Put it on a slow flame and cook. Add salt to taste, ghee and mix. Mix both the mixtures thoroughly and keep mashing. Be careful that it does not get burnt at the bottom. Mash till you get the right consistency (check video). Top it with golden browned onions.
Serve hot in a bowl topped with ghee, browned onions, finely chopped coriander leaves and a dash of lemon juice to make it zesty.
Tip – This dish needs pre-preparation and planning and is a little bit time consuming. But will definitely love it once you try it. It is a balanced, delicious and famous Hyderabadi one meal dish.
Haleem is a classic and enticing Hyderabadi dish having several medicinal properties as it has unique feature and contains both slow digesting and fast burning ingredients. The fibre content is also relatively high. The legumes that go into its production increase muscle strength and gives instant energy. The ingredients added in the Haleem are also rich in potassium and magnesium that includes the whole grains like wheat, nuts, vegetables and dry fruits. It also contains proteins and it has anti-aging ingredients, such as dry fruits which are rich in anti-oxidants.
Do try this high calorie dish which is a must to eaten at least once during the Ramadan month. Click onto the link and view the recipe at: