Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Haleem' Again - Meatless, Wheatless

With Id around the corner, Haleem is very much the flavour of the season. The vegetarian haleem post on my blog is one of the most popular ones, and perhaps one of the three or four posts which people have commented on after trying out the recipe. It even got copied, which is a rather sad way of establishing its popularity. This time, though, the haleem comes with a lot of changes. (It's gluten-free, and it could be vegan if you used oil instead of ghee.) So much so, I wonder if it can be even called haleem. The main ingredient in this is bajra/pearl millet. (I thought I had some broken wheat left over from a previous khichdi experiment, but I didn't.)

I had used the bajra so long back I'd even forgotten whether it was jowar (also a millet) or bajra. I hadn't eaten it before that but had decided to try it out because I saw some recipe for a khichdi with it. That turned out to be a not so pleasant experience and the cereal stayed in my pantry, unused. When I found out there was no wheat, I was a little disappointed but decided to use this for the haleem. The next step was to identify what it was.

Typing 'jowar' and 'bajra' and trying to label it as one or the other based on the colour didn't work. My cereal was green, but on the Internet, there was green jowar and green bajra, as well as dull white. Then my memory helped me and I remembered the khichdi recipe had called it bajra khichdi and I had bought a packet labelled 'bajra'. So bajra it is!

Incidentally, when we were kids and travelling, we used to see jowar/bajra stalks strewn on the road. I imagine the intention was to get it threshed as vehicles went over it. I even found a picture, see? Guess it still happens!

I set about making the 'haleem' - yes, it's haleem in spirit alright, so that's what I will call it. Now that we've got that out of the way, let me tell you about what I put in it. The original recipe called for peas, cauliflower, brinjals/eggplant and capsicum/green bell pepper but all I had was yellow pumpkin, broccoli and potato.

Now we all know broccoli isn't the best substitute for cauliflower though there's a resemblance, but I plunged it into some hot water anyway. Then I realised there was quite a big chance of the haleem getting into hot water if I went ahead with my eyes wide open, so I used only the stalks.

I halved the amount of vegetables and pressure cooked it as Farah and Neff, who commented on the previous vegetarian haleem post told me. I did face some reverses: the mixture started burning despite all the water I put in it, and when I rescued it and transferred it to another pressure cooker with more water, it stuck to that too, but it was all edible and didn't smell charred. So though it's going to be painful to evaporate all that water later, I suggest you use a spacious pressure cooker and lots of water, maybe two cups more than I did.

So here's how I made it

Bajra - 3/4 cup
2 tbsp red gram/toor daal/kandi pappu
1 tbsp green gram/moong dal/pesara pappu
1 tbsp split Bengal gram/channa daal/senaga pappu
A handful each of peeled, cubed yellow pumpkin, potato, and broccoli stalks
2 medium onions, sliced
1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander/dhania powder
1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
5 cups of water (I used 3)
4 tbsps of ghee or oil
For garnish: Some sliced onion, fried crisp
Coriander leaves/hara dhania/kothimeera, chopped

Soak bajra/pearl millet and dals separately overnight. Wash well. Drain and keep aside for 20 minutes.

Grind the millet coarsely.

In a big pressure cooker, heat half the melted ghee or oil. Fry onions until brown. Reserve about two spoons for the garnish.

Stir in garlic, ginger paste, fry for a few minutes. Add coriander powder, turmeric, chilli, salt, coriander and cumin powders and add the millet and dal mixture. Stir well. Pour in the water.

Let it cook without the weight till the millet and lentils are tender. Don't leave the kitchen, because the moment you do, it will burn and your haleem might be ruined.

Once it's tender, add the vegetables, some more water if you think it's necessary and pressure cook again, with the weight. (Just go by your instincts here - my instincts went away and I had to firefight, literally.) This will take just about 3-4 minutes. Again, don't leave the kitchen, and watch the haleem like a hawk.

When the pressure drops, open the vessel, add the garam masala and the remaining ghee or oil.

Keep stirring often. Let the extra water evaporate. Watch out for some heavy-duty spluttering.

Let the ghee float to the top and the colour turn golden. Once you’ve put it into a serving bowl, garnish with the fried onions and chopped coriander. Serve hot with pieces of lime.

 I'm sending this off to Susan who's hosting the 50th edition of her event, My Legume Love Affair, on her blog this month.

If you want another 'Id delicacy' that's as unorthodox as this haleem and no less delicious, in my book, here's some Khubani ka Meetha! Eat both together at your own risk - you won't be able to lift yourself off your chair!


  1. It is called Cumbu in Tamil. It is I think a great substitute for wheat in haleem because cumbu is best eaten cookend with yogurt and should be kind of soggy.

    Now you have made me want to try this. I have to find bajra first.

  2. Sra! Lovely lovely! It brought back so many good memories of living in the Deccan. And over the years, the vegetarian Haleem varieties have increased. If in Hyd, during this time, Pista House's Vegetarian Haleem is the best.

  3. Whenwe were young cumbu and cholam were often made in such dishes or the powder added to jaggery and ghee and given to us for the evening after school.
    And just as Indo said, friends used to bring it cooked wth yoghurt and raw onions. I have bajra on hand, this is my next trial with that!

  4. Sra,
    Wow! a vegetarian version also for Haleem and that too wheatless..next time if I get Bajra , will try it..have been using bajra flour in parathas for long never used the grain although..hugs

  5. "So much so, I wonder if it can be even called haleem." -- Ha, ha..laughing away at that, the way we tweak :-D The end result looks very glam and Haleem-y.

  6. Hey Sra.. good to see you! Have to catch up on so many posts!

  7. Looks super!! Love the color too.

  8. I couldn't have imagined Haleem - meatles, wheatless before your post Sra. Have to try Pista House's Veg Haleem as mentioned in one of the comments. Bookmarked to try soon.


  9. It can definitely be called haleem inspired. I had no idea meatless version of haleem had even been attempted but yours is original alright and looks like the real thing too! Will have to try it to see how close it is in taste and texture.

  10. I had heard of haleem and of course ignored it, whatstheuse? I shrugged,vegetarianism and haleem do not mix and now you come up with this! MUST try, as soon as i can get some bajra.

    1. Sra, where did u get Bajra pearls? I tried 3 Indian stores in the area, no luck :(

    2. Manasi, I live in India.

      How about health and nutrition stores, you could ask for pearl millet. Recently there was a millets event and lot of bloggers in the US participated. They might be able to help.

  11. And yet another dish I know nothing of. When will it ever end? Happy sigh here. : }

    Very, very creative, Sra, that you've come up w/ not only a vegetarian version of haleem (now that I've looked it up, I see the challenges) but also a gluten-free and vegan-adaptable one.

    True, broccoli isn't cauliflower, but broccoflower (and their ilk) seem to have reconciled the two to some extent. : D

    Thanks for joining MLLA 50. The round-up will be online soon. Apologies for delay.


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