Haleem – A marvelous journey from Arabian Makhbat to Indian Rasoi

By Papri Mukhopadhyay

Haleem is a thick soup-like dish cooked with pounded meat, lentils and ghee along with the spices. It is the first non-vegetarian item to be granted Geographical Indication (GI) tag for its huge popularity. This rare delicacy is generally served during the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the most important festival for the believers of Islam. During this festival most of the Muslims all over the world observe fasting regularly from dawn to dusk. Finally, after breaking the fast in the evening they take foods as Iftar. As haleem contains meat, lentils, nuts etc. it is a great meal to break fasting. It is a high protein platter ideal to consume after a daylong ‘Roza’. It is considered to be the uncrowned king of the Iftar in southern Asia.

History of Haleem

The origin of haleem lies in the popular Arabian dish known as ‘Harees’ which is mentioned in the 10th century book ‘Kitab Al Tabikh’. During the rule of Nizam this Arabian dish made its way to Hyderabad. Mehbub Ali Khan, the 6th Nizam of the then Hyderabad state, introduced the dish to the Royal Hyderabadi menu and his successor Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 7th Nizam made this dish an integral part of the traditional Hyderabadi cuisine. The mastermind behind popularizing haleem as an authentic dish of Hyderabad was Sultan Saif Nawaz Jung, an honorable member from Yemen in the court of Nizam. Gradually the dish has been evolved with some Indian spices and ingredients which is different from the original Arabian recipe.


Traditionally haleem takes more than 8 hours of slow cooking. It falls in those groups of recipe which demand slow cooking. More you cook the dish slowly, more you get the desired perfect texture of haleem. Though you can use the pressure cooker to accelerate the process.

Cooking the meat: Take one Table spoon of ghee in a pressure cooker. Temper it with the whole spices and add thinly chopped onion and fry it. Next add ginger and garlic paste and cook it. Then add the mutton, salt, green chillies, 3 cups of water and cover the lid. Let it be cooked on low flame until 7 whistles. Separate the bones from the mutton and mash the meat slightly.

Cooking the pulses: Deep fry the finely cut onion slices in a pan. Add cashew nuts to the oil and fry until it turns brownish. Dry roast the rose petals. Temper one Tea spoon of ghee with the whole spices and add all the pulses to it. When an aroma comes out of the mix switch off the flame. Grind all the above mentioned ingredients into a coarse mixture and cook it on low flame with water for 20 minutes.

Finishing touch: Now transfer the cooked mutton to the lentil mixture and cook on low flame for at least 2 hours. Don’t forget to stir in every 10 minutes. After completion add rest of the ghee and lemon juice. Garnish it with fried onion, fried cashew nuts and a few slices of lemon. Finally, it is ready to be served.

Few points to remember
  • Instead of wheat you can use dalia as well.
  • Though rice is optional but crucial. Rice contains starch which helps to get the thick texture.
  • The more the duration of cooking the more the appropriate texture.
  • Don’t hesitate to use adequate amount of ghee. It helps in getting the right texture as well.
Nutritional facts

Haleem helps in building muscle and tissue due to the protein present in lentils. Being rich in carbohydrates haleem promotes the enhancement of energy level. It contains dry fruits that are rich in anti-oxidants which slow down the ageing process.

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