Goodbye Sachin, Hello Haleem

A WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS NO PICTURES.  IT DOES CONTAIN SOME SADNESS

A little over two years ago I met the wonderful Eating Out In Delhi gang and it is no exaggeration to say that they altered my food horizons forever. Through them came my life-changing introduction to Indian street food and a lifelong addiction to Chhole Bhature.

At  EOID’s helm was Hemanshu Kumar who organised regular jaunts to obscure eateries – we even had a couple of out of town gorging sessions – our trips to Amritsar and Lucknow will stay with me forever.  Eating street food became less of a priority  for Hemanshu, though, when he got married recently. Several other founder members  have also moved onto pastures new. We meet sporadically now but it’s always the highlight of my week – eating and laughing, laughing and eating, then a bit more eating.

Last night we met to say goodbye to our friends Sachin and Prajakta who, sadly for us, are moving back to their beloved Bombay.  So that’s the sadness. Happily the food was exceptionally good and Prajakta kept us all entertained with hilarious impersonations of Kiran Rao.

Sachin had chosen Purani Dilli in  Zakir Nagar for his last supper and what a treat it turned out to be. Zakir Nagar is a Muslim area  near New Friends Colony positively overflowing with good things to eat.  The main street of Zakir Nagar has the party feel of  Matia Mahal in Old Delhi, with the added chaos of people trying to drive 4x4s down it. Purani Dilli is at the far end of the street so it can take a while to get there and for me it was an anxious rickshaw ride as Sachin had warned us that the Haleem for which the restaurant is famous would be finished by 8.15.  By the time we arrived there was only a spoonful of Haleem left and it looked a little forlorn  – hence no pictures.

The taste, though, was divine.  I don’t exactly know how haleem is made (and I’ve spent way too much time on Twitter this morning trying to find out!)  but I do know it’s a dish that originates in Hyderabad, a divine marriage of mutton, ghee, wheat, lentils and spices.

Bizarrely, the thing it most reminds me of is French ‘rillettes’ – meat, usually pork, slow cooked in fat then shredded and served as an extremely rich paté. When I lived in Paris rillettes were my passion (and  downfall in the dress size department) and I think Haleem might be about to become my Indian equivalent. Both dishes have a soft, soothing yet incredibly rich texture (that’s the beauty of ghee and pork fat!), set off perfectly by good bread.  In Paris that meant baguette, at Purani Dilli a perfect naan.

The Haleem was so good I couldn’t focus on anything else although the mutton stew alone would be worth a return trip.  And there will be a return trip – but next time I’ll be setting out earlier.

Thank you to Sachin for choosing Purani Dilli and thank you to both he and Prajakta for sharing some of my best times in India – eating!  All the best to them and their gorgeous little girl Aanya – we’ll be down to sample some Bombay street food very soon.

 

 

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34 thoughts on “Goodbye Sachin, Hello Haleem

  1. Thank you, Pam and Dean, for sharing those wonderful times with us. As happy as we are to go back to Mumbai, we are equally sad that we are leaving Delhi. Sadly, for Prajakta, Kiran Rao (her former classmate) snagged Aamir Khan, and she was left with me to contend with. Now, if only I had six-pack abs, instead of those extra-rubber tyres around my waist!

  2. Haleem is a bit of a work. Specially white breaking down the grains to that texture. You keep stirring with a wooden instrument to make the wheat come to the texture and consistency. I usually pre plan when I make it but its so worth it. Can’t get enough of it!

  3. The pain of good friends moving base really hurts. On the plus side you can visit us all at Mumbai and we can take you for halim at Md Ali Road during Ramzan

  4. This is one dish which has to be seen to be believed. It is a thick broth with mincemeat & cereal and is a full meal by itself. Clarified butter with fried onions bits are added along with fiunely ground red chillies, coriander leaf and ginger bits. Haleem is not a very well known dish and is somewhat like the Khichdi but has a totally different taste.

    Ingredients

    Meat 1 1/2 kg
    Oats ½ kg .
    Onion ¾ kg
    Tomatoes ¼ kg
    Masoor dal ¼ kg
    Chana dal ¼ kg
    Ghee ½ kg
    Garlic paste 6 tbsp
    Ginger paste 6 tbsp
    Coriander powder 2 tbsp
    Salt 1-11/2 tbsp (to taste)
    Red chilli powder 2 tsp.
    Turmeric powder ½ tsp.
    Coriander & mint leaves for garnishing
    Green chillies 50 gr
    Ginger 100gr
    Lemon 6

    Boil the dals together. Boil the oats seperately. Chop the herbs, green chillies and julliene the ginger. Cook the meat along with ½ cup ghee, half of the onions, tomatoes, turmeric and coriander powders, chilli powder, salt, and the ginger and garlic pastes. The meat should be cooked till extremely tender, actually it should start falling off the bones. Mix the meat mixture thoroughly so that the meat pieces break up into fine shreads. Mix the dals and the oats thoroughly as well. Mix the dal, oats and the meat together and cook for another half an hour. Add a generous tablespoonful of garam masala, mix well and take it off the heat.Fry the remaing onions in ghee till golden brown. Arrange the chopped herbs, chopped green chillies, garam masala and julliened ginger in a plate. Serve haleem in individual plates, topped with herbs, green chillies, garam masala, ginger and a generous squeeze of lemon.

    THE ABOVE IS A SHORT VERSION, CAN ARRANGE FOR A MORE DETAILED TAKE ON IT.

    By the way love the column.

    V V Singh

  5. I’m surprised you’ve never been to Purani Delhi before or had their haleem.

    Hemanshu, Supratim and I would make trips there often, almost every couple of weeks or so.

    It’s one of the places in Delhi I really miss eating at. 😦

  6. Hey Pamela.

    I would get Haleem Spice Mix for you from here for you…theres a host of Pakistani Spice Brands here and I have tried loads of them and they have never disappointed me….I am coming next in August 2011…would surely get them for you…

    Cheers…
    Che

  7. Hi Nishant – you were sorely missed and much-mentioned at the Purani Dilli get together. Look forward to seeing you in August x

  8. Hi Vishal – thank you so much for taking the time to send a recipe. I notice it includes oats not wheat? Half a kilo of ghee! No wonder I loved it 🙂 All the best

  9. Sachin – if you ask me, Aamir Khan looks as though he could do with a good plate of Haleem! Take care, hope to see you soon. Pxx

  10. Hi Pamela,

    I’ve been an occasional visitor to your blog and love your ‘earthy’ style of writing. As a Hyderabadi, the mention of Haleem in the title caught my attention. I’m based in Chennai and make it a point to visit Hyd during Ramzan period, as the best Haleem is made then.
    Mona, a fellow Hyderabadi based in Toronto blogs about Hyderabadi food. Here’s her recipe for Haleem – http://zaiqa.net/?p=165. You two could actually form a Sisterhood of Frying pans – makes it easier for followers like me. 🙂
    Pista House is Hyderabad is known for its Haleem and during Ramzan season they also deliver to all the big cities in India – http://www.pistahouse.in/index.php

    Cheers
    Uday

  11. pam
    have the haleem mix. if you cant get it at khan market you can get a box from me! learnt how to make haleem in new york (!) or khichda (its close bombay cousin). the butchers in khan market will also slice the mutton for haleem if you ask them to.
    xo

  12. Thanks for writing such a lovely piece about us going. I am so touched. When we shifted to Delhi we were so apprehensive. But then we met you guys and other EOIDites and before we knew it Delhi felt like home. Sachin and I will miss you and Dean, your generosity, warmth and the great conversations we have had. This move is so bittersweet- excited about going back and sad about leaving Delhi. Please visit Mumbai often. Lots of love.
    Prajakta

  13. Hello,
    Some of the Penguin Essential Cookery Series are really great (and reasonably priced!) , their The Essential Andhra Cookbook by Bilkees I Lateef is one I use a lot. Haleem recipe is also really tasty (but don’t know how it would compare to the Purani Dilli one).

    According to this Ms Lateef, whole wheat was used originally in the recipe. This was soaked in water overnight and then lightly pounded in order to remove the husk, then boiled on a slow fire. She says nowadays people buy a “dalia” of already broken and husked wheat. Oatmeal is listed as “can be used” or a 50:50 mixture of broken wheat with oatmeal. Apparently some recipes also use channa dal and other old recipes rice with a variety of dals. She gives 2 versions in the book.

    In any case, heartily recommend the book (and the series in general). Warning: it is Penguin paperback, so not for those who like their cookbooks with nice photos!

  14. Hi Bawa – Of course! I actually have that book, am such an idiot. I agree, the Penguin Essential… series is a real treasure trove. In fact most of my favourite cookbooks don’t have pictures

  15. Prajakta – my pleasure. We’re really going to miss you all but we’ll be down to Mumbai to see you for sure. xx

  16. Great Post
    Next in the line of great Indian would be
    Konkan / Gomantak Food (Great Sea Food)
    Chettinad Food – Chennai Non Veg Style and above all my most favourite food is Nepali food.
    Looking forward to your writeups on this variety.
    I can arrange the visit of Nepali kitchen if you ever fly to Sikkim !

  17. Hi Pamela

    Read about eatanddust in our Sunday Travel paper..loved it ..and decided to check it out..it hasn’t disappointed me! Have now subscribed:-))

    I’m from South Africa.

    One of my favourite books is Street Food of India by Sephi Bergerson…just love Indiab food:-))

  18. Hey can you please suggest which is the best shop in Delhi to have chhole bhature? I am dying to have one which does not have soda added.
    Thanks

  19. Yes, Haleem is typically a Hyderabadi dish, common during ramzaan. Travelling through India, I was surprised to discover that it is not a common dish throughout the country! In fact, I have a blog of my own (I’m new to the blogging phenomenon) where I speak of Hyderabad’s food! Do check it out and leave me your comments – http://grubshrub.blogspot.com

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