One type of food that I really love on a cold day is a hearty bowl of soup and some good bread. For some reason, it just makes me feel totally relaxed and even happier to be in my cozy, warm house! How about you? Do you have a favorite cold-day comfort food?
If you’ve had a chance to read a few of my other food posts, you will have noticed that “lentils” is a big part of a South Asian diet. Some families always have some type of lentil dish in addition to their main meal item. It’s just a tradition that has been passed along to families over generations and a delicious one too.
North and South Indians usually have their lentil dishes plain or with other vegetables in it. Pakistani lentil dishes are similar too, except they have the added option of including different types of meats in them. The meat adds a different level of flavor profile and intensity to the lentils that is just absolutely delicious! If you’ve ever had a chance to try Pakistani cuisine, it is a real treat. The flavors and spices that they cook with makes their food, especially their meat dishes, out of this world!
Haleem is one of those Pakistani dishes that you will keep coming back to after you make it. It is a very thick lentil soup made with barley, bulgar wheat, yellow lentils, mung beans, black gram and red lentils. Traditionally, it is cooked low and slow on the stove until all the lentils break down into this beautiful, golden colored type of stew. Then you add your meat of choice and cook it again low and slow on the stove until the meat just falls off the bone and all the juices mix into this thick, buttery lentil stew. After all this mixing and meshing, the Haleem is then cooked again low and slow for another few hours until the lentils almost disintegrate – leaving this amazing and flavorful lentil stew with melt in your mouth pieces of meat in it. It is AMAZING! But – the whole “traditional” process from start to finish take about close to 6hrs!
I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t have the time to cook one dish for 6 hours on the stove! And I’m not talking about crock-pot cooking here or making pasta sauce from scratch! Guess what? When I have a hungry family around, they are looking around at each other deciding who to devour first! LOL. I also have 3 little children, so I really try to have food ready in a reasonable time, even when I’m making a variety of dishes.
Not only that, but it’s important to me to make Indian cuisine accessible and achieveable by the everyday cook – especially during the weekdays. I love Indian cuisine and I’m hearing alot of other people are starting to love it alot too, so I’ve take the “traditional” Haleem recipe and modified it so that it can be done and ready to eat in about 1.5hrs.
My family loves this dish because it is hearty, and full of flavor from the lentils, fried onions and chicken that I add into it. Plus, this is one recipe that will give you a decent amount of leftovers for the next day or possibly two.
Haleem can be made with or without meat. The key to making a good (modern) Haleem is using a pressure cooker, or Insta-pot. Usually, I make it with chicken breast. But, when I make the vegetarian version, I prefer to use spinach in it. It adds a really great flavor to the lentils and makes the lentil stew part smooth and silky.
Regardless, how you prefer to make this Haleem recipe, you will love its rich texture, amazing flavor and the chance to try something new from Pakistani cuisine!
HALEEM with CHICKEN
- 1 box of Shan Haleem Mix
- 5-6 medium onions (julienned cut)
- 3 whole pieces of chicken breast
- 2 Tbsp of salt
- 1 cup of cooking oil
- 6-8 cups of water
- 1 stick of butter (cut into small slices for optional topping)
- Lemon wedges (optional)
NOTE: For a Vegetarian Option, use 10oz of frozen or freshly chopped spinach instead of the chicken. Cut cooking time to 1hr on slow heat.
- Cut about 4-5 large onions in half and then cut into thin slices
- In pressure cooker – add about 1 cup of oil an allow to heat up on high heat
- Put onions in pot and allow to fry up till very light golden brown and they start becoming a bit translucent.
- Once browned – lower heat immediately and add 3 or 4 whole chicken breast pieces and let it simmer for a few mins.
- In the meantime take the pack of grains that come in the Shan Haleem box and rinse out all the starch in a large bowl.
- Once rinsed, add the grains into pot, the Shan Haleem spice pack included and 6 cups of water. (Add more if you want Haleem to be on the thinner side)
- Mix well and then cover pressure cooker and lock.
- Cook on medium-low heat for 1.5hrs.
- Turn off heat and release pressure from cooker before opening.
- Open pot and remove the chicken breast into separate bowl and shred with fork.
- Once shredded, put the chicken back into pot and add 2 tablespoon of salt and mix in well.
- Serve in bowl with a chunk of butter and some lemon juice – mix in well and eat.
(If u think the Haleem is too watery after adding the shredded chicken, just turn on stove again and let the liquid burn off a little bit – it should be a little on the thick side than watery side before eating. )
You can also eat Haleem on top of plain rice or with your favorite type of Indian bread. It is a really great comfort food that can be eaten alone as a soup or with any addition you choose.
Let me know your thoughts if you get a chance to make Haleem. Feel free to tag me on IG @cmspiceculture or leave a comment below!