Servings : Serves 6
Haleem (Khichra) is a thick yummy and filling dish that is made up of wheat, lentils and shredded meat. It’s normally slow-cooked to develop it’s excellent flavour and helps create it’s paste-like consistency. In E/Africa, the dish is more commonly known as Kichro or Khichro.
- 1/4 kg wheat grains (1 cup)
- 1/2 kg boneless meat (I mix goat and beef but you can use any)
- 1/4 kg onions (sliced and fried)
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 3 fresh tomatoes, blended
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup lentils, you can mix masoor and channa daal or use just one of the two (soaked overnight, boiled then blended to a paste)
- 1/4 cup rice (soaked, boiled then blended to a paste)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cloves
- 2 elchi/cardamom pods
- 5-8 whole pepper
- 1/2 tbsp. garlic paste
- 1/2 tbsp. ginger paste
- 1 tsp. coriander powder
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
- 2-3 tbsp. blended green chillies with coriander/green chutney
- oil as required (I mix a bit of butter or margarine with the oil for better flavour)
- salt/red chilli flakes to taste
- hot water (keep it handy in a thermos flask or keep the kettle warmed up and ready)
- 1 tsp garam masala
Wash and soak the wheat grains in water for 24-48 hours (1-2 days), making sure you change the water every 12 hours or so to keep it fresh. Then drain the water and boil the grains in a pressure cooker with a drizzle of oil and a little bit of salt until the wheat is very tender and soft. Allow the grains to cool then, using a food processor (or a blender can work too), grind the grains to a paste.
Boil the meat until very soft, then shred with your fingers or spoon. Once all is shredded, I like to make the meat very fine so I place bits of the shredded meat at a time on a metal plate, then using the back of a heavy mug, I pound it down until it is flat and delicate.
Reserve the stock left over from boiling the meat, you can later add this to the haleem during cooking.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the whole spices followed by half of the fried onions (keep half for garnishing). Fry these for a while then add the shredded/pounded meat. Fry again on low heat for at least 10 minutes whilst stirring all the time for the flavour of the meat to develop. Then add the ginger and garlic pastes, green chutney, half the lemon juice, followed by the tomato paste and blended fresh tomatoes. Add the turmeric powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. Cook these down until the tomatoes are well cooked and thick. Now add the blended channa/masoor daals as well as the rice. Cook these for a few minutes. Finally add the ground wheat and mix well.
You will have to keep stirring very regularly and keep it cooking on slow heat so the flavour develops well. Whenever you feel it has thickened too much, add some hot water plus the reserved stock and keep on stirring. A good khichra/haleem should take nothing less than 2 hours to cook, but you can speed things along if you are in a hurry. However if you want a good authentic flavour, let it take its time in cooking and you will enjoy the meal a LOT more.
Once you are satisfied with the results/colour/taste/texture, squeeze in the remaining lemon juice. Turn off the heat and sprinkle garam masala over the haleem but don’t stir it in. Then heat 3 tbsp. of oil separately and pour it over the haleem. The garam masala will immediately sizzle and give out a wonderful aroma.
Now you can mix it all in and your haleem is ready to be served! Garnish with fried onions and coriander, and serve with red chutney and lemon.