Haleem

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Haleem is traditionally prepared during Ramadaan using Meat and Lentils. Even though it’s a high-calorie meal, it’s a slow-digesting meal keeping you fuller for longer. Haleem is usually eaten at the time of breaking our fast and served alongside Naan or rolls. For additional flavour, and to vary the heat, we like to top ours with fried onion, slices of green chilli, lemon wedges, julienned ginger and lots of chopped coriander.

I have enjoyed seeing the Instant Pot trials of Haleem across Instagram this Ramadaan. There are varying ways to prepare this, and the end goal is to prepare what is considered a laborious meal in minimal time.

Here are some findings from my tests:

In most cases, lentils need to be soaked when preparing Haleem or any dish with lentils.. I know from experience that an Instant Pot doesn’t require lentils being soaked. I washed the lentils 4 times until the water ran clear and left it to soak while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. This cuts down on 2 hours of prep time.

This dish traditionally takes 2h45m to 3 hours to cook. With multiple tests using Chicken, the cooking time has been brought down to 1hr50m.

Recipe: There are 4 essential steps to this recipe.

Step 1

Combine the lentils and wheat.

Time-saver tip: Use ready-mixed dry lentils labeled as ‘soup mix’ from any Indian grocer. This comes in a 1kg pack that has all the necessary lentils in it. I would suggest using 1 cup from this quantity for 1kg of chicken.

If you don’t have access to these packs, here are my suggested lentils and quantities:

  • ½ cup barley
  • ¼ cup green dhal
  • ½ cup Chana dhal
  • ½ cup pea dhal
  • ¼ cup pink lentils

This combination needs to be washed until the water runs clear. It is recommended to soak it overnight but it cooks in half the time using your Instant Pot.
Add the washed lentils and wheat and 7 cups of water. Set the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook and push the button again to change to More – this increases the time to 35 mins.

Tip: Instant Pot recommends adding 1 tsp of olive oil to this mixture to stop any foaming / frothing when you release the pressure.

Allow a 5 min NPR and then quick release remaining pressure.

Empty into a bowl and once cool enough to handle, blitz to a smooth consistency. Be careful not to burn while blitzing the lentils. The extra water helps prevent the burn notice and keeps the lentils thick but not pasty.

Step 2

Haleem is made up of the soup part and the meat. The meat needs to be cooked with spices to create the flavour and add the necessary bulkier protein to this soup.

For this we return to the Instant Pot using the Sauté and Pressure Cook function.

Switch the Sauté function and set to 20 mins, add:

  • ½ cup of ghee
  • 1 grated onion
  • 2 to 3 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 to 3 whole cloves
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 small 2cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaf

Allow this to brown until the 8 minute mark.

1kg chicken (I usually request my butcher to cut it to curry sized pieces which are smaller. Use all parts of the chicken even the boney meat as this has the most flavour)

Add in the chicken and let this whiten slightly until the last 2 minutes remaining.

Add the following spices.

  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Half a tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Red masala (combination of ground red chilli, garlic and ginger)
  • 2 small grated tomato

Allow the onion to cook until slightly browned.

Add the grated tomato and Sauté until the cycle is done.

Add 2 cups of water to deglaze and scrape down the inner pot and sides very well to make sure nothing is sticking. Set to Pressure Cook for 20 mins.

The idea is to pressure cook the meat so that it falls off the bone.

Once complete, allow a 15 mins natural release and then quick release the remaining pressure. Discard all of the bone leaving behind the shredded meat.

Step 3

Now that the lentils have been cooked and pulsed, it’s time to add the meat to it to create the actual soup.

Add the pulsed lentil mixture to the cooked chicken.

Add 3 cups of water

Add 1/2 cups of Oats

Stir well and ensure nothing is sticking at the bottom of the inner pot.

Set to Pressure Cook and adjust Pressure Level to LOW, set time for 10 minutes.

This will help combine the lentils and meat and to cook the Oats, creating the soup.

When the time is up, allow it to stand for 5 mins and then quick release the pressure. The end result will be a lovely thick soup.

Step 4

The garnish step may be left out entirely but I feel like it adds much needed flavour to complete this meal. You will require a separate stove top pan to temper the spices. You may also add an additional tablespoon of any haleem powder which heightens the scent of this dish

  • Julienned ginger
  • Onion, sliced
  • A punch of garam masala powder
  • Lemon cut into wedges
  • Slices of red chilli
  • Chopped fresh coriander

Temper the onion in ghee until crispy. Add the julienned ginger and fry for a few seconds. Season with the garam masala and remove from the heat. Top the haleem with this, and the fresh coriander, lemon and chilli slices.

Total cooking time 1h 50m, including time for natural release.

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Naqiyah Mayat

Author & Creative Entrepreneur

Naqiyah Mayat is a connoisseur of luxury, elegance and beauty. Her lifestyle brand is built around a philosophy of sophistication and aspiration.

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