Though Haleem is favoured by India’s Muslim community, you can find it nearly everywhere in the country, with restaurants and street vendors offering it with naan to labourers and late-night revellers alike. I learned to make Haleem from Naushab Ahmed, one of my closest friends, a proud Lahori and a great host. Noshi’s dad was a great friend of the poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz and this Haleem is something that the family shared with Faiz Sahab. Made with ground goat or lamb and served in bowls, it gets topped with accoutrements like sliced onions, chopped green chillies and fresh cilantro. You can substitute 3/4 cup chana daal or 1 cup of rice for the steel-cut oats if you like. This is not your average Haleem. It is the real deal. If you have had Haleem before and think it something you know, get ready to be confronted by a new beast.
- 500 gm ground mutton
- 12 cardamom pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 medium red onions, peeled and quartered (plus extra thinly sliced for serving)
- 3 dried red chillies
- 1-2 green chillies, roughly chopped
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 7.5 cups water
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil or any neutral oil
- Chopped coriander for serving
- Lime wedges for serving
- Place the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to a coarse purée and set aside.
- Place 1/2 cup of water next to your stovetop. Heat 1/4 cup canola oil with the cardamom, cloves, red chillies, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and peppercorns in a large pot over medium-high heat for 2 to 2.5 minutes until cinnamon unfurls.
- Add the onion mixture and salt and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, splashing the pot with water and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot when the onions begin to stick.
- Add the ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric and cook for a minute. Mix in 2 tablespoons of canola oil, the ground mutton, oats and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for about 10 minutes until the pot is fairly dry.
- Add 3 cups of water and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 5 additional minutes. Serve with onions, coriander and lime wedges.