Thursday, July 29, 2010

Haleem, Amy Style

A couple years ago at a dinner party for single ladies, I was introduced to haleem. And it was delicious. The cook had prepared it in a pressure cooker in order to speed up the process (this dish can take 8 hours to cook) and I was quick to ask how she made it. Finding that she simply used a box mix from Shan, I was pretty eager to try it. I didn't have a pressure cooker, but I thought I'd try it in a Crock-Pot that I'd had for a while (and never used.)

So I bought the Shan Haleem mix at a local Indian grocery store, and tried my best to follow the instructions. I'm still not sure if I really followed them correctly (and I left some parts out, plus I don't really know what "ghee" is), but generally anyone to whom I've served haleem has been pretty happy with it.

Tonight I received the chief of all compliments on haleem, when my mother-in-law (who really doesn't speak any English) insisted to me that my haleem was "very very very very very very very tasty." She herself is an amazing cook, whose culinary expertise has been delighting my taste buds for over a week now. So that I could impress her (as well as the rest of my family) was pretty exciting.

Because I'm using a boxed mix and a crock-pot, making the haleem is really easy. So when I tell people it's easy they often ask how I make it. So I thought maybe I'd share my strategy.

First, let the grains soak in a bowl of water. I've let them soak from anywhere from 15 minutes to about 2 hours. My sister-in-law soaks them overnight, which is another way to make them softer, I guess. It might help them cook faster if they soak longer, but I'm not really sure.

Anyway, after/while soaking the grains, fry some beef (I use the same cuts of beef used for beef stew, which we buy at a halal meat market, and it works really well) in oil. I use about 2-2.5 lbs. of beef and around 1/2-3/4 cups of olive oil to fry the beef. Heat the pan, add the oil, then the meat, and add the spices (I use about 3/4 or a little more of the spice packet, not the whole thing) while frying the beef. Once it has been browned (though not cooked the whole way through) I add it to the crock-pot, along with the grains and water. And then I had water, but I can't say how much. I add until there's about an inch from the level of water and the top of the crock-pot, about 1-3 bowls of water, depending on the size of the bowl. Also depends on the size of the crock-pot you use, I guess. Maybe 20-32 oz of water, in addition to the beef and the oil you cooked it in.

And then set it--about 6-8 hours on High or 8-10 hours on Low should be plenty. So you have to start it in the morning if you want it for dinner. Don't stir it too often in the crock pot, as it adds on cooking time.

Then enjoy, and share. It's really good with yogurt and naan. And if you want to make it higher protein (as I do sometimes) then add chicken breast to your dish before you eat it, like this. Season the raw chicken breast with some remaining spices (haleem masala) like a dry rub. Fry a breast in about 1 tsp of olive oil (for up to a 7oz breast) until cooked through. Add to about 3/4 cup haleem and yogurt. For even more protein, substitute Greek yogurt. For lower carbs, cut the naan and just eat it with a spoon.


Umm Aaminah said...

A'salaamu alaikum. I like the Amy style; definitely more simple!

BTW, ghee is like clarified butter. You heat the butter (not margarine) slowly til the milk solids become golden brown. Then drain off the clear fat and discard the milk solids. Or just buy it pre-made from your local indo-pak store. :-)

Amy said...

Ah, I see. I think the haleem tastes pretty good with olive oil, but thanks!

Saladin said...

Mmm...Shan has some awesome spice mixes. Tikka Bohti is my FAVORITE. Yummy. Goes great on lamb, chicken, or beef. I make a sauce that's just 2 cups of sour cream, 1 box of spice, some soy sauce, a little lemon or lime juice, and then baste all the meat with it. Coat 'em thick. Throw 'em onto the grill, turn regularly and listen to the heaps of praise!