Tried and Tasted: Here’s where to have the best haleem in Delhi
Haleem, a delightful mix of grains and meat, is a meal in itself and the perfect dish to savour in winter.tried and tasted Updated: Nov 19, 2017 09:03 IST
I sometimes wonder if there is anything as delicious as well-cooked haleem. My search for haleem takes me far and wide, from one end of the city to the other. In some seasons, I even order haleem online, and it comes all well packed all the way from Hyderabad.
Haleem, as you would know, is a delightful mix of grains and meat. It is cooked over a slow fire for long hours, so that by the time it is done, the dish is a creamy mash redolent with the flavours of meat, grain and spices. If you want, you can add some fried onions and chopped green chillies to it. Squeeze a wedge of lemon if you like it tart, and you have a meal that you can’t forget.
I have gone to almost every haleem outlet worth its salt in Delhi, but this one that I encountered in Old Delhi a few days ago was by sheer accident. And I can’t say how happy I am to have found this small Hyderabadi outlet in Purani Dilli.
I was in search of an old favourite – Kashmiri kebabwallah – when I saw this place called Hyderbadi Dum biryani, or Hotel Mustafa. We stopped there, and, boy, am I glad we did so! Its chicken haleem arguably is the best that I have eaten in the last few years.
Hotel Mustafa is off Matia Mahal, in Haveli Azam Khan. It’s a tiny place opposite Shabrati, which is a well-known eatery in the area.
Mustafa’s haleem is cooked with broken wheat, some urad dal and chicken. This is cooked with a potli ka masala, a mix of black cardamom, cinnamon, coriander seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, patthar ka phool, khus and other flavouring agents and spices. Once the meat is done and has turned really mushy, it is garnished with browned onions. Mustafa adds small pieces of cashew nuts to the chicken, a dash of lime juice and desi ghee on top. And the dish is simply superb.
This is a new place, and came to me as a real surprise. It’s good to have a Hyderabadi food outlet in the Walled City. The haleem is cooked in a big degh, and a kilo of haleem is for Rs 240. They sell biryani as well, for Rs 140 a kilo.
What makes this haleem special is the smooth texture and taste. The chicken is cooked so well that it has a creamy consistency, and the taste envelopes the flavours of the spices. I liked the crunchy surprises that the nuts posed, and enjoyed the aftertaste and aroma of the ghee in the dish.
Haleem is a meal in itself, for it is heavy and nourishing. In some parts of the country, it is made and sold only during the feasting period of Ramzaan. It is also a breakfast meal, and gets you ready for a hard day’s work.
Now that winter is upon us – almost – I can see that I will be making many more trips to Old Delhi, for this wonderful dish that warms my soul.
Ingredients: 500g boneless chicken, 100g broken wheat, 3 large onions, 1tbsp ginger-garlic paste, a pinch of turmeric, chilli powder to taste, ½ tsp garam masala, 1 cup yoghurt, oil for frying, juice of 1 lemon
Method: Slice the onions and fry them. Take half the fried onions out. Fry the ginger and garlic with the remaining onions in the oil. Season with salt and turmeric, and then add the chilli powder. Fry some more. Add the chicken and cook. Once almost done, add whisked yoghurt and stir. When the oil comes to the top, take off the stove. Take the chicken out, allow it to cool. Grind it with boiled and ground broken wheat. Put this back on the stove, add garam masala and green chillies. Fry for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice and then serve garnished with the browned onions.
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First Published: Nov 19, 2017 08:58 IST