This is another quintessential Hyderabadi dish, which is traditionally eaten during Ramadan. This recipe is our family’s version of it. I often make it for dinner in winter because we find it to be a comforting, warming porridge. There are two components to this dish – the fermented wheat and the deeply-flavoured Khorma. Make sure you eat Haleem as soon as it is made; you cannot store it even in the fridge for more than a day because the wheat will begin fermenting.


  • 2 kg boneless meat
  • 1 kg wheat
  • 500 gm sour yogurt
  • 200 gm ghee
  • 4 cups water
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 6 large onions, sliced
  • 4 tbsp cashew nuts
  • 4 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Lightly roast and grind together

  • 8 cardamoms
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp chironjee
  • 1 tbsp black cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp coriander powder

Suggested accompaniments

  • A bowl of the whites of spring onions
  • A bowl of mint leaves
  • A bowl of radishes, sliced into strips
  • A bowl of fried onions
  • As many lemons as you’d like, halved


  1. Fill a large pan to the brim with water and soak the wheat in it overnight. The next morning, de-husk the wheat and pressure cook it until soft. Let it cool and then grind to as fine a consistency as possible. Ideally, it should resemble a thick porridge.
  2. In a pan, heat oil and fry the onions until golden brown. Then, add ginger-garlic paste and chilli and turmeric powders. Fry until aromatic. Now, add the meat and fry until the water dries up. Then, add the masalas that you roasted and ground and allow the mixture to brown.
  3. Add the yogurt and as much water as required for the gravy. I usually use five glasses of water. When the meat is cooked, add the garam masala and keep on dhum for a few minutes. Remove the pieces of meat and grind to a fine paste.
  4. In another pan heat 200 gm of ghee. Add the black cumin seeds and cardamom. Lastly, add the ground meat and gravy and mix well. Leave on dhum for 15 minutes.
  5. Garnish the Haleem with fried onions and lemon juice, if using. Serve with the accompaniments of your choice. 

Excerpted with permission from Saffron and Pearls: A memoir of family, friendship & heirloom Hyderabadi recipes, Doreen Hassan, HarperCollins.

Doreen Hassan

Doreen Hassan

Doreen Hassan was considered one of Delhi’s finest hostesses, and was celebrated for the elegant parties she hosted. The meals she crafted had been perfected over the years, based on heirloom recipes she had inherited from family members.

See more