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This article is about the food. For the name, see Halim. For other uses, see Halim (disambiguation).
Pakistani Haleem served with garnish.jpg
Pakistani Haleem served with garnish
Place of origin Middle East[1]
Region or state
Central Asia
Middle East
Main ingredients Wheat, barley, lentils, meat
Variations Hyderabadi Haleem, Khichra, Harees
Cookbook:Haleem  Haleem

Haleem (Arabic: حلیم‎, Urdu: حلیم‎, Persian: هَلیم‎, Bengali: হালিম, Hindi: हलीम ) is stew popular in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. Although the dish varies from region to region, it always includes wheat, barley, lentils and meat. Popular variations include keşkek in Anatolia, Iran, the Caucasus region and northern Iraq; harissa in the Arab world and Armenia; khichra in Pakistan and India; and Hyderabadi haleem in Telangana State, India.The word Haleem gets its name from persian for 'patience' because of time and effort to prepare it.


Haleem is made of wheat, barley, meat (usually beef or mutton, but sometimes chicken or minced meat), lentils and spices. This dish is slow cooked for seven to eight hours, which results in a paste-like consistency, blending the flavors of spices, meat, barley and wheat.


The origin of Haleem lies in the popular Arabian dish known as Harisah (also written as Harees, Hareesa). According to Shoaib Daniyal, writing in the The Sunday Guardian, the first written recipe of Harisah dates back to the 10th century, when Arab scribe Abu Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Sayyar compiled a cookbook of dishes popular with the "kings and caliphs and lords and leaders" of Baghdad. “The version described in his Kitab Al-Tabikh (Book of Recipes), the world’s oldest surviving Arabic cookbook, is strikingly similar to the one people in the Middle East eat to this day” it reported. Harisah was introduced by Arab soldiers of the Hyderabad Nizam's army to the city.[2][3][4] Today, Harisah is still available in the Arab quarter of Hyderabad, an area called Barkas, where the dish is called Haris.[2] Later on, the people of Hyderabad modified it to suit their palate thus creating modern Haleem.[3]

Cultural History[edit]

Haleem is sold as a snack food in bazaars throughout the year. It is also a special dish prepared throughout the world during the Ramadan and Muharram months of the Muslim Hijri calendar, particularly among Iranians, Pakistanis and Indian Muslims.

In India, Haleem prepared in Hyderabad during the Ramadan month, is transported all over the world through a special courier service. Haleem is traditionally cooked in large, wood-fired cauldrons.[5]

Haleem is also very popular in Bangladesh, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, when it is a staple dish.

In Pakistan, Haleem is available all year round in most Pakistani restaurants around the world. Haleem is sold as a snack food in Pakistani bazaars throughout the year.

Hyderabadi haleem[edit]

Main article: Hyderabadi haleem
Hyderabadi haleem

The city of Hyderabad, Telangana, India is also known for delectable haleem, which is available specially during Ramadan. Originally an Arabic dish, haleem was brought to Hyderabad during the Mughal period by the immigrants of Iran and Afghanistan, as well as Yemeni Arabs.[1] It was popularized by the Arab diaspora of Hyderabad State.[6]

Mitthi (sweet) and khari (salted) haleem variants are served for breakfast in the homes of people living in the Barkas area of Hyderabad.

Haleem has also earned great appreciation from other communities in India for its delicious taste and mouth-watering aroma. The salted variety is popular during the month of Moharram and Ramadan. The high-calorie haleem is the perfect way to break the Ramadan fast (iftar). The ingredients are beef or lamb, wheat, barley, lentils, spices and ghee, and sprinkled with lemon juice and/or spicy masala to adjust flavor to the taste of the eater. Legend has it that it took nearly a week to make a perfect dish of haleem.

A derivative of haleem in which dried fruits and vegetables are used, is also prepared during Ramadan.

Haleem is also a traditional starter at Muslim weddings and other celebrations in Hyderabad. In September 2010, Hyderabadi haleem was given GI status.[1]

Haleem and khichra[edit]

In South Asia, both haleem and khichra are made with same ingredients. In khichra, the chunks of meat remain as cubes, while in haleem the meat cubes are taken out of the pot, bones are removed, meat is crushed and put back in the pot. It is further cooked until the meat completely blends with the lentils, wheat and barley mixture.[7][7][8]


A traditional Haleem is made by firstly soaking wheat, barley and gram lentil overnight. A spicy meat gravy called Korma is prepared until the meat becomes tender. The wheat, barley and gram are boiled in salt water until they are tender. The cooked wheat, barley and lentils are then mixed with the meat (Beef or Mutton or Chicken) gravy and blended with a heavy hand mixer to obtain a paste-like consistency. The cooking procedure takes about 6 hours to be completed. However, Haleem preparation varies in different regions. The Iranian Haleem is made differently than Pakistani or Bangladeshi or Indian versions, and typically contains sugar, cinnamon, and turkey meat.

Nutrition facts[edit]

Although a high-calorie dish, haleem is full of nutrition as the whole wheat, barley, lentils and meat combined together form an excellent source of fiber and protein.


Haleem can be served with chopped mint leaves, lemon juice, coriander leaves, fried onions, chopped ginger root, and/or green chilies. In Pakistan, haleem is usually eaten with naan or with any type of bread or rice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Hyderabadi Haleem now close to being patented". NDTV.com. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "The history of haleem". The Sunday Guardian. 
  3. ^ a b "A culinary history of Haleem". The Times Of India. 
  4. ^ Ihsaan Abrahams. "Islamic Focus - Haleem". Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "In Hyderabad this Ramzan? Don't miss the Haleem!". Rediff. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Biryani, Haleem & more on Hyderabad's menu". The Times of India. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Nidhi Raizada. "It's Indian Everyday: Difference between Khichri, Khichra and Haleem". Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  8. ^ http://www.desicookbook.com/recipe.aspx?recipe=17

Further reading[edit]