Haleem – but without the meat

Haleem – but without the meat

The Art Of The Larder
Mike Lusmore

Commonly served in India, Pakistan, central Asia and the Middle East, haleem, to use just one of its names, is a multi-pulse and grain dhal, and there are many versions of it. My version uses lentils, barley, cracked wheat and also meat, but I’ve excluded meat (lamb or mutton) because I like it well enough without – it makes for a brilliantly thrifty and flavour-packed midweek supper. A tarka is a spiced oil preparation and can be added at the beginning and also at the end of a dish.


Quantity Ingredient
50g red lentils
50g split peas
50g cracked wheat or barley
75g brown rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
3 whole tinned tomatoes, drained of juiced and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, (more if you like spice)
1 teaspoon ground cumin, toasted
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
50g frozen peas or cooked chopped green beans
lime wedges, to serve

For the tarka

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 fresh green chilli, finely sliced
A pinch ground turmeric
a small bunch fresh coriander, stalks, finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped


  1. Soak the lentils, split peas, cracked wheat and brown rice together in cold water for about 1 hour.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the cinnamon stick, whole cumin seeds and bay leaves and fry for 1 minute. Add the onion and carrot and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and the ground spices and simmer for a minute, until the tomato is softened.
  4. Add the drained lentils, split peas, cracked wheat and brown rice. Mix well and add the salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Add 225ml of cold water and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that surfaces and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook for 30–40 minutes, until the brown rice is cooked through. The lentils, split peas and cracked wheat will cook before the brown rice. Add the frozen peas or beans towards the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
  7. Meanwhile make the tarka to finish the haleem. Put the oil into a small frying pan over a high heat. When it is just about to begin smoking, add the mustard seeds and green chilli. The seeds will pop and crackle. Fry for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and add the turmeric and coriander stalks.
  8. Serve the haleem with the tarka poured over, the chopped coriander leaves and some wedges of lime.
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