If you’re looking for an authentic recipe for haleem, look away. This is the most basic version of the haleem, stripped of all its non-essentials to help beginners jump in to the world of cooking while still creating a tasty dish. For those who aren’t familiar, haleem is basically a stew of grain with meat and spices, slow cooked for hours. This version takes about 25 minutes and uses no meat.
First of all, let’s break down this dish. You have the grain, the flavouring, and the liquid. The grain is straight forward, the liquid is too. The flavouring component is a bit complex. I will list everything I use, but it is perfectly acceptable just to use store bought curry powder and nothing else.
• Red lentils, if you’re using other kind of lentils, the cooking time is significantly increased
• Stock (powdered is perfectly fine, in fact preferable), can be substituted with water, but you need to adjust the final taste
• Curry powder
• Grated ginger
• Grated garlic
Other that I used:
• Chaat masala (a spicy spice mix with a slight sweet and sour tang to it)
• Ground coriander/cilantro seed
• Dried curry leaves
• Dried fenugreek leaves
• Fried shallots
• Wash the lentils
• In a soup pot, place the lentil, garlic, ginger, the curry powder, and any of the dried herb and spices (also the stock if using powdered). I also recommend using a pinch of sugar just to balance the saltiness
• Add water until everything is covered, and turn the heat on, wait until it boils
• Once boiling, lower the heat until it’s a simmer, (add the fried shallots if using), and cook until the lentils are done stirring once in a while and more frequently near the end of the cooking (could take about 25-30 minutes depending on the quantity)
• During this stage, keep an eye on the pot and add water if necessary, if it gets too dry for too long, it may burn
• Adjust the seasoning and serve.
• How much spices? It really is up to you. Each brand is also different so you will have to try what you like. Just remember, if you don’t have enough you can add more and if the flavour is too strong, add more water.
• This dish is very forgiving, the only time it’s ‘dangerous’ is when the liquid is reduced in the final stage and everything thickens, if you leave it too long without stirring and the heat is too high it may burn
• You will need more water than you think. Lentil absorbs a lot of it, you can always add more water anytime during cooking, but also if for some reason you’ve added too much water, fear not. This dish is still fine, it will simply turn soupy rather than a stew, BUT also, leave it stored somewhere for a day and you will see all the liquid disappear
• Following up from the last point, if you cooked too much, and the next day it’s dry, simply heat it up and add more water