A warm bowl of Pakistani Beef Haleem with fried onions, lemon wedges, mint, and chat masala can win anyone’s heart. Although Hyderabadi haleem recipe is a complete meal and a charm on any occasion, it is fervently made in the holy month’s Ramadan and Moharram.
Haleem literally means ‘patience’ because it requires long and slow overnight cooking. Interestingly, it is a generous dish that is almost always made in large quantities and shared with guests or sent to neighbors, friends, and family.
What is Haleem?
Technically haleem is a spicy and thick meat and wheat stew. Its texture is slightly sticky with threads of pounded meat. It originated from Harrisa as a convenient food while traveling in Arab tribes. The Middle Eastern version is mild in spices with no lentils.
It came to India in Mughal kitchen at the time of Babur. The traditional Hyderabadi Haleem, a spicier version more commonly served in India and Pakistan has some lentils and barley also added to it, technically it is Khichda (a type of beef Haleem which has a mix of grains, lentils, meat and spices.)
Wheat: Authentically whole wheat kernel without the skin is used for Haleem recipe. But some recipes call for broken wheat which reduces the cooking time and process.
Barley: It is optional and can be substituted with more wheat. Barley grains help to give the sticky texture to Haleem so I highly recommend adding it.
Lentils and rice: Chickpea pulse gives the best taste to the Haleem and you may use only this lentil or use a number of lentils like yellow, red, and white pulse for increased nutritional value.
Haleem spice mix: You can get ready-made Haleem spice mix which is an easy way to do it. Or here is my haleem spice mix recipe with simple Indian spices.
Meat option: Use beef shank for best Beef Haleem, as this meat cut gives those thread of meat in the final dish. Haleem traditionally is made with red meat in the form of beef, lamb, and mutton. Sometimes, camel meat is also used. Now chicken Haleem recipe is also gaining popularity.
Other ingredients: Some other fresh spices like ginger, garlic, chillies and herbs are also added.
Condiments: Condiments like fried onion, lemon wedges, mint, coriander, ginger slices, chilli slices and chat masala is a must for Beef Haleem and makes it super tempting. You just can’t have enough.
How to make it?
There are 3 major steps of haleem recipe.
- Cook grains and lentils until soft and mushy. Then blend it with an immersion blender.
- The second step is to cook meat and shreds it in a processor.
- The third is to mix wheat and meat curry and finish it with tempering. That's it. Although a long process but not difficult.
- Begin by washing wheat and barley until water runs clear. Then soak it for 4 hours at least or preferably overnight.
- Similarly, combine lentil and rice in other pots and wash thoroughly. Lentils require just 2 hours of soaking.
- Discard the water of soaked wheat and lentils. Transfer to a pot. Add ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Fill the pot with water until the water level reaches 2 inches above the grains and lentils. (You can always add more water if needed.) Bring water to boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 60-90 minutes on medium heat until wheat kernels are soft and mushy.
- In another pot fry thinly sliced onions until golden.
- Now add meat and haleem spice mix to it. Mix well and stir fry on high heat for 2-3 minutes until the color of meat changes.
- Fill the pot with just enough to barely cover the meat. Bring it to boil, then cover the pot and cook for 30-45 minutes until tender.
- Meat curry is ready, let it cool.
- Remove meat (and bones, if using) from the curry with a slotted spoon.
- Add the gravy to the grains and lentil and blend it with an immersion blender. ( Add cold water if the mixture is too thick to avoid too much strain on the machine.)
- Shred the meat in the food processor in batches. Add the shredded meat in the haleem.
- Add the yogurt. Mix well with a ghotna or a sturdy wooden spatula in a circular motion for 5-10 minutes with an interval for a smooth sticky consistency. If the haleem is ver add water and adjust consistency.
- In a pan heat oil and fry garlic until lightly golden. then all the ingredients of tempering and fry for one minute. Add tempering in the haleem pot and mix well.
- Haleem is ready. Fill a large bowl with hot haleem. Garnish with fried onions, mint, and ginger slices.
- Heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil until smoking hot and drizzle over the bowl of haleem. This step is optional.
- Serve with lemon wedges and a place of condiment on the side.
What to eat with Haleem.
Thin porridge-like mild Haleem can be eaten alone or with Kadhi and is very filling. The spicy Hyderabadi Haleem is usually paired with naan or Karak double roti. Bharta salad pairs well with Haleem. Indian Lemonade or lemo pani is good drink to finish the course and quench the heat of spices.
Tips to make the best Hyderabadi Haleem?
Now, Haleem recipe is not a 30 minutes meal, it requires some planing. Although it may seem tedious and difficult recipe due to many steps but actually the overall process is easy. Below are few tips to make best haleem.
- Soak wheat overnight: Wheat kernel needs 4-6 hours of soaking so soaking overnight works best. (Some people soak wheat 1 day ahead and cook wheat overnight on slow heat.)
- Soak Lentils too: Lentils require 2 hours of soaking. If in hurry soak in warm water for 30 minutes.
- Cook wheat and lentil until mushy: This is important regardless of the cooking time make sure the grains are super soft before you blend it. This will give the haleem a good texture.
- Meat: You can you any red meat for this recipe but beef shank works best. I used boneless meat but if you large bone of beef add it to the meat and remove before shredding meat. The bones have far more flavors and delicious fat that enhance the flavor of haleem naturally.
- Serve with condiments: The fried onions, ginger, lemon, and chat masala greatly compliment Hyderabadi haleem. start prepping for condiment while wheat and meat is cooking.
- Leftover haleem tastes amazing. It is freezer-friendly too. I also make paratha from leftover haleem which is melt in the mouth delicious. I make it the same way as I make Leftover Daal Paratha here.
Hungry for more, check these!
- Chicken Haleem
- Bohra haleem, lentil free haleem, Arabic style.
- Malida, Afghan whole wheat dessert
- Kadhi Pakora, Gram flour curry and dumplings
- Sooji Halwa, semolina halwa
- Keema samosa, Mince samosa
For Grains and Lentils
- 1½ cup whole wheat kernels , or broken wheat (300 gram)
- ½ cup barley, Jaav, (100 grams)
- ¼ cup rice
- ¼ cup red lentil, Masoor daal or substitute with Bengal gram
- ¼ cup yellow lentil, Moong dal or substitute with bengal gram
- ¾ cup Bengal gram, channa dal
- 2 tablespoon green chilli paste
- 2 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
For Meat Curry
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 large onion, , thinly sliced
- 6-8 tablespoon Haleem Spice Mix, less or more to taste (Find my recipe here)
- 1 kg beef or lamb/mutton, boneless (can add extra bones too) see notes 1
- 2 cup water
- ½ cup of oil, use oil used to fry sliced onions
- 2 tablespoon chopped ginger
- 2 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 12-15 curry leaves, substitute with mint leaves
- 4-6 round button chilles
For Garnish and condiments
- 6 medium onions, skip if using ready-made fried onions.
- Ginger , sliced
- Mint leaves
- Chat masala
- green chillies, sliced, less spicy ones
For wheat and lentils
- Take wheat and barley in a pot. Wash and soak for 4 hours at least or preferably overnight.
- Combine lentil and rice in another pot. Wash and soak for 2 hours.
- Take soaked lentils, wheat and barley in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add salt, ginger, garlic, green chilli paste and water. The level of water should be 2 inch above the grains. Bring it to a boil then reduce heat to slow, cover the lid tightly and cook for 60-90 minutes until wheat grains are soft and mushy. Keep stirring at intervals.
For Meat Curry
- In another pot fry thinly sliced onions until golden.
- Now add meat and haleem spice mix to it. Mix well and stir fry on high heat for 2-3 minutes until the color of meat changes. Then fill the pot with just enough to barely cover the meat. Bring it to boil, then cover the pot tightly and cook for 30-45 minutes until tender. Meat curry is ready, let it cool.
- Remove meat (and bones, if using) from the curry with a slotted spoon, set aside. Add the gravy to the grains and lentil and blend it with an immersion blender. ( Add cold water if the mixture is too thick to avoid too much strain on the machine.)
- Shred the meat in the food processor in batches. (Discard the bones, if used.) Add the shredded meat and yogurt in the haleem. Mix well and cook further on slow heat and keep stirring at interval to avoid sticking from bottom.
- Stir with a ghotna or a sturdy wooden spatula in a circular motion for 5-10 minutes with intervals for sticky and homogenised texture. If the haleem is very thick add water and adjust consistency.
- Do a taste test and adjust salt. Adjust heat if needed by adding more haleem spice mix.
- In a pan heat oil and fry garlic until lightly golden. Then all the ingredients of tempering and fry for one minute. Add tempering in the haleem pot and mix well. Haleem is ready.
- Fry sliced onion in pan until golden. Work in two batches. Spread onions on kitchen towel so it gets crispy.( Skip this step if using store brought fried onions.)
- Fill a large bowl with hot haleem. Garnish with fried onions, mint, and ginger slices. Heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil until smoking hot and drizzle over the bowl of haleem. This step is optional.Serve with lemon wedges and a place of condiment on the side.
- Heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil until smoking hot and drizzle over the bowl of haleem. This step is optional. Serve with lemon wedges and a plate of condiments on the side.
I was making a Gujarati daal dhokli and happened to overboil the dhoklis (kneaded wheat flour mixed with a little gram flour, rolled into rotis and cut into bite size squares). That's when i got this notion of Reverse Engineered Khichda. Instead of going to all the trouble of soaking wheat overnight, boiling it to the right consistency and blending one can simply boil these dhoklis till they are well cooked and then mash them up with a wooden pounder along with the boiled barley and meat. I have found the texture is much smoother. Rest as per your detailed instructions, needless to say. Do try it out.
Mariam Sodawater says
Thanks for the suggestion, it sounds very easy and interesting. I must try. You are very creative Mehboob.