May 04, 2022
The holy month of Ramadan ended this week with a celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, the breaking of the fast. While Ramadan is mostly about abstinence from material pleasures, it also brings communities together to celebrate with age-old traditions and delicacies like kebabs, meat stews and crispy breads. One such delicacy popular in India during the month of Ramadan is haleem. Originally an Arabic dish called ‘harees’ or harissa from the 10th century, haleem is said to have come to India via Iran and Afghanistan during the emperor Humayun’s reign in the Mughal period. It was evolved and upgraded with aromatic spices and ingredients to become a local specialty in Hyderabad. Traditionally prepared in ‘bhattis’ or brick-and-mud ovens during the holy month of Ramadan, it is a slow cooked sludge like delicacy made from meat, wheat, and pulses, often cooked for seven to eight hours over firewood.
Just like most dishes in India, there are dozens of variations on haleem, some are made with goat, some with beef, different kinds of lentils or grains but here is a recipe that reminds me of the haleem my two older brothers would sneak into the house at night for late night treats. This recipe utilizes a lot of ginger, remember to not peel it. Haleem can be made up to 3 to 4 days in advance, freezes well for up to 6 month and can be eaten with flatbreads like naans or roti, or on warm toast.
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup channa dal
1/2 cup whole wheat kernels or cracked wheat
1/3 cup whole buckwheat
1/2 cup ghee plus more for drizzling on top
1 tablespoon whole green cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves, crushed
2 cups minced onions
1 pound goat meat (preferably with bone), cut into large cubes
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 pound goat feet (about 4, available at most Pakistani or Middle eastern grocery stores)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon slivered ginger
Mint leaves, sliced serrano pepper, sliced radishes, and fried onions for garnish
Soak the channa dal, wheat kernels and buckwheat in 2 to 3 cups of water for 4 to 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain.
In a heavy bottom stockpot, warm up the ghee until it is hot but not smoky and add the crushed cardamom pods and cloves. Fry for no longer than 2 to 3 seconds then add the minced onions. Cook on high heat until the onions have started to sweat, then lower the heat, cover the stockpot, and continue braising the onions. They should take on a golden-brown color and this may take up to 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the goat meat, turmeric, black pepper, ground cumin, chili powder, and salt and fry the meat in the spices for 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the goat feet with 4 cups of water, the drained channa dal lentils, wheat, and buckwheat. Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. The meat should be cooked and falling apart, and the lentils, buckwheat, and wheat kernels should begin to dissolve on the mix.
Continue simmering the whole mixture until everything has completely cooked through and is soft to the touch. Let the mixture cool for 1 to 2 hours then discard the goat feet and remove the bones from the meat pieces. Using a hand-blender, pulse the entire mixture but make sure not to make it into too much of a puree. Cook it down until it is thick and almost sludge-like. Add the minced ginger and cinnamon and squeeze some lemon juice.
Serve with flatbreads or warm toast. Garnish with more ghee, slivered ginger, mint leaves, sliced radishes, and fried onions.
December 02, 2022