Haleem - Middle-Eastern Lentil Stew

Let us take a trip to the middle eastern meal that is called Haleem. I love this meal. It's a lentil-wheat-barley spicy stew. I first had this when my husband's cousin made it one day. I looked at the mass of beige paste with meat shredded throughout, ginger slices and crispy fried onions over the top, and it made me wonder what kind of mystery meal this was going to be. I am a foodie so am pretty adventurous. Alas, the rest became history.

Halim has hundreds of different versions. I am going to share mine with you. Normally it can and does take 6-8 hours to cook. I, however, use my Wolfgang Puck electric pressure cooker so the lentil part can be swung in 30 minutes. This is not the method I was taught, it is the method I devised to shorten the process from 8 hours to 35 minutes. Then if you wish, you can pressure cook the meat afterward and add it to the stew. I always slow cook the meat, usually the same day or the next.

This is 2 cups of the Haleem stew lentil mix I buy from the Indian market. First, you must inspect the lentils for discolored and broken pieces as well as, and most importantly, stones. I found 5 little stones in this batch. They won't kill you but my teeth and insides would not recover from an incident with any stone. After the inspection, you need to thoroughly wash the lentils just like you wash rice. The water must run clear and the floating debris must be strained out.

I then let the lentils sit in clear water for an hour or so while I added the rest of the mix ingredients to the pressure cooker bowl.

There is a Shan Masala box for Haleem, as seen above. You will be needing that, making the spice yourself may prove to be too difficult. I go to a local Indian market where the cost is $2.29.

l researched online on Amazon and although it was a ridiculous price, it is available there. So I know you can make this meal even if you don't have an ethnic market nearby. I am adding the link so you can search for it if you can not find it in a brick and mortar store close to you. Here is the link I looked at: https://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dgrocery&field-keywords=shan+masala+ 

In due course, everything everywhere will be available to all of us online. We will all be able to have a global cuisine available in our little local kitchens.

In the pressure cooker, I added ginger garlic paste as well as some oil and ghee, with about 2 tablespoons Haleem mix from the masala box. Then add a nice beef marrow bone to cook along with the lentils. Pour in 4 cups beef broth and 2 cups chicken broth, because I needed 6 cups liquid. Then I pressure cooked it for 35 minutes. I let it depressurize naturally, not letting the steam out manually. Here is what it looked like after I let it cool, removed the bone, and used my emersion blender to make it like a chunky paste:

Please remember it will thicken a lot as it sits. I wait to salt it until this stage. I put it in a bowl and left it in the fridge overnight. Today I will make the beef in my slow cooker and combine it with the amount of  Haleem we will need for family dinner. Remember what Mum said about slow-cooking meats? I like them better that way. I could have cooked it all together in the pressure cooker, but as I said, I don't like the texture of the meat when I do that.

The beef I will slow-cook can also be kept aside for other dinners. I don't only make it for one thing. I make it fairly plain in the crockpot so I can change it into another entirely different meal later, like a beef stew with gravy and potatoes, or beef stroganoff so on and so forth.

In the end, today I made a thick meat sauce and added half to the Halim. The remainder I will use for dinner with rice on Tuesday. Here is the meat I shredded and added to the plain haleem:

The final result was amazing. The condiments you need to add to the finished stew are fresh ginger and fried onions. Another side which is usually served is a tomato salsa called kachumber. Perhaps add a sprinkle of cilantro and mint. The final meal is always served with warm Naans which can be used by hand to scoop up the Haleem. I am going to write the recipe for just the stew lentils alone without any meat.


2 Cups haleem lentils
6 cups broth or stock
bones from either chicken, beef or mutton if you wish for strength and flavor
2-4 tablespoons garlic ginger paste - depending on your taste
1-2 green chilies - optional
2-6 tablespoons haleem masala - I am very cautious because it is spicy, be careful
2-4 tablespoons oil or ghee


Rince the lentils as described above in the commentary. Place everything in the pressure cooker and cook for 35 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Stir and wait for it to cool. Use an emersion blender to break it down to a chunky paste. Now salt to taste. Let cool. It freezes really well.

I hope you enjoy this. It is easy to make vegetarian. For meats, you can use mutton, beef, or chicken. Just be sure to shred the meat and incorporate it back to the paste, no large chunks or bones.

I hope you try it. You will be surprised how delicious it is.

~ Hugs from Mum


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