Happy new year friends!
While holidays have come to an end, the cold weather has not. For my last piece as TASTE's Cook in Residence, I wrote about the allure of Christmas, memories of Eid, and how my siblings and I learned to make December our own. Needless to say, a lot of cooking was involved. In the piece, I share my mother's recipe for haleem, a dish that is perfect for lazy, winter days. Read the full story here, and find the recipe below.
Serves 6 - 8 as a main
Total cooking time: 3 - 3 1/2 hours (less with a pressure cooker)
1 cup wheat kernels, rinsed and soaked overnight
½ cup yellow split peas, rinsed and soaked overnight
¼ cup barley, rinsed and soaked overnight
¼ cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for one hour
¼ cup red lentils, rinsed and soaked for one hour
¼ cup moong daal, rinsed and soaked for one hour
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced in half rings
Kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
2½ tablespoons Kashmiri red chile powder (if using cayenne red chile powder, adjust per taste)
2.2 pounds boneless beef chuck or lamb shoulder, fat trimmed and roughly chopped in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste
6 black cardamom pods
2-inch cinnamon stick
½ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
Bring four quarts of water to a simmer and add grains. Add salt to taste, 1 tbsp red chile powder, turmeric powder, and ½ sliced onion. Dial heat to low and cover. Let it simmer for approximately 2 hours. Stir every once and a while to make sure that the grains do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once the grains are fall-apart soft, drain excess water and transfer to a food processor. Give it 4 or 5 whizzes to soften the texture, and transfer grain mixture to a large pot.
Once the grains are boiling, begin to prepare the meat curry. Heat 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil in a large pot. When the oil is sizzling hot, add onions and fry on medium heat till they are golden brown and crisp, about 7 minutes, more if necessary. Be careful not to burn. Once onions are ready, transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil.
Move the saucepan to a cooling rack and let it cool. Heat remaining oil again on low heat, add ginger and garlic paste, and let it fry for a few seconds. Be careful since it may splutter. Add meat, salt to taste, and whole spices (black cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick), and fry on medium-high heat till the meat is evenly cooked, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in coriander powder, garam masala, and remaining red chile powder into the yogurt. Add fried onions and the spiced yogurt to the meat. Continue to cook on medium-high heat for another 5-7 minutes till the oil begins to separate.
Lower heat. Add five cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook till meat is tender and falling apart, roughly 1 to 1½ hours. Stir meat frequently to make sure it does not stick to the bottom.
Once the meat is ready, take out whole spices with a slotted spoon. Transfer meat mixture to a food processor and mince till it has an even consistency. Once ready, transfer to the pot with the grains.
On low heat, begin to stir the grain and meat mixture together till it is well blended, about 5 minutes. Top with crispy, fried brown onion.
Serve alongside finely chopped green chile, cilantro, julienned ginger, chaat masala, lemon or lime wedges, and naan.