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PRABEEN SINGH
HIGH TABLE

My love affair with the Haleem began during Ramzan

aleem- like all 'pish pash' food must have been a staple in a poor woman's kitchen as with a few pieces of meat or just bones and lots of wheat or any other cereal [cheaply available] a nuritious meal for the family could be prepared. Finding similarity in the other mashed foods served in the first Thanksgiving meal prepared by the 'founding mothers' in North America. The Native American gift of pumpkins, corn, and other indigenous produce was pulverized in order to feed a larger number of people. Mashed foods really do stretch to feed many unexpected guests. Harisa, the name means well cooked, first cousin to the Haleem was the staple breakfast of the hardy mountain Kurds, who were not the most affluent community. It is served on Assumption Day –Id es saidi in Syrian, Lebanon and other countries in the region or when a sheep is sacrificed for a special reason. Most often served with sprinkled sugar and cinnamon.

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Goan dishes since the fifteenth century thus unite the culinary history of three continents - Europe, Asia and the Americas

Haleem is also the special dish that is prepared throughout the world during Ramzan and Moharram, particularly with Pakistani and Indian Muslims. High in calories it's the perfect meal to break one's fast with. Hyderabad is famous for it's Haleem and during Ramzan, Hyderabadi Haleem is distributed all over the country. Legend has it that it takes one entire week to make a perfect dish of Haleem! Like with many a 'poor man's food', Haleem with the availability of an abundance of spices and multiple culinary influences became less about cold nights and starving stomachs and more of a delicacy in many affluent kitchens all over India. Changing slightly in taste and texture and name, it meandered itself right up to Kashmir. Nevertheless It's epicenter stays in Hyderabad and in September 2010 Hyderabadi Haleem was given GI status.

My own love affair with the Haleem began at the excellent gourmandizing that took place, late evenings during Ramzan. It had by then morphed into an expensive dish prepared by the most trusted cook in my friend's grandmother's kitchen. The younger generations of women of the family could never entice the cook to tell them the secrets techniques that made his Haleem special. We would wait patiently for the feast to begin, diving into the kebabs and the Haleem. The significant of fasting was totally lost to us, and our association of Ramzan was not to abstain but to glut!

RECIPE

Haleem

1 kg bulgur wheat-or wheat, 2 kg. leg of mutton in small cubes, 3 cups Yoghurt, 8 medium red onions sliced thin, 2tbls. ginger paste, 2tsp/ garlic paste

1st garam masala: 2tbls. coriander powder dry roast, 1tbls. cumin powder dry roast, 2tbls.Chrinji ground dry roast and grind, 5tbls dry coconut powder ground dry roast, 2tbls. poppy seeds dry roast and grind, 2tsp. kashmiri red chili powder, 2nd Garam masala: 2tsp. cumin, 7 cloves, 10 green cardamom, 2" stick of cinnamon, Dry roast each spice individually and then grind together, 4tbls.Milk, Juice of 3 lemons, 1small bunch coriander, 4 green chilies seeded, 3tbls. vegetable oil

4 tbls. ghee

For the garnish: 1 cup golden fried onions, finely chopped coriander and green chilies, Lemon wedges

Method:

Pound it to remove the husk

Make porridge with ½ tsp salt and keep aside

Fry onions golden brown Keep aside

In the same cauldron add 2-3 green cardamom, small stick of cinnamon 3-4 cloves to flavour the oil.

Remove once done

Add garlic /ginger paste brown

Add mutton and fry till brown

Add red chili, cumin, coriander, fried onions yoghurt cook well.

Add chironji and dry coconut cook till meat is tender.

Remove the shank bones keep aside

Remove all the bones, put back the meat cubes

Mash the meat in pan till it is a fine.

Add wheat porridge, fresh coriander, green chillies, little milk and 2nd garam masala. When serving fry some onions and pour them along with ghee on top. Garnish with mint leaves and finely sliced Ginger.

Serve the remaining garnish on the side

It takes about four hours or more to cook it but its worth every minute!

You could fast forward the preparation by using the blender to make a slightly rough paste of the porridge and meat separately.

Then mix them together in the same cauldron and cook on slow heat for 20 minutes till all the ingredients are merged together and the ghee has separated.

 
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