Pakistani Haleem served with garnish
Place of origin Middle East[1]
Region or state
Central Asia
Middle East
South Asia
Main ingredients Wheat, barley, lentils, meat
Variations Hyderabadi Haleem, Khichra, Harees
Cookbook: Haleem 

Haleem (Arabic: حلیم‎, Urdu: حلیم‎, Turkish: Halim aşı, Persian: هَلیم‎‎, Bengali: হালিম, Hindi: हलीम ) is stew popular in the Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan,and India. 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, India.


  • Composition 1
  • Origin 2
  • Cultural History 3
  • Hyderabadi haleem 4
  • Haleem and khichra 5
  • Preparation 6
  • Nutrition 7
  • Serving 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11


Haleem is made of wheat, barley, meat (usually beef or mutton, but sometimes chicken or minced meat), lentils and spices, sometimes rice is also used. 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 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

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 Pakistanis and Indian Muslims.[5][6]

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.[7]

Haleem is also very popular in Bangladesh, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, when it is a staple dish.[8][9]

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

Hyderabadi haleem

Hyderabadi haleem

Haleem has become a popular dish in the city of Hyderabad, Telangana, in India. Originating from an Arabic dish called Harisa, haleem was introduced to the region during the Mughal period by foreign migrants.[10]

Both mitthi (sweet) and khari (salted) variants are served, commonly for breakfast; likewise it is a popular dish to serve ending the fast during Ramadan. A derivative in which dried fruits and vegetables are used, is also prepared during Ramadan. It is also served as a traditional starter at Muslim weddings and other celebrations.

Haleem and khichra

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.[11][11][12]


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.


A high-calorie dish, haleem provides protein from the meat and fibre and carbohydrates from the various combinations of grains and pulses.


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

See also


  1. ^ "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".  
  4. ^ Ihsaan Abrahams. "Islamic Focus - Haleem". Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Haleem recipe: The ingredient to refreshing old memories". tribune.com.pk. The Express Tribune News Network. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Srinivas, M. "City in for flavours of Haleem". thehindu.com. The Hindu. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "In Hyderabad this Ramzan? Don't miss the Haleem!". Rediff. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Khan, Arman R.; Mustabina, Labiba. "Iftar Offers You Can't Refuse". thedailystar.net. The Daily Star. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "Celebrate Ramadan at Khazana". .thedailystar.net. The Daily Star. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Alikhan, Anvar. "How haleem became the new biryani". timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Nidhi Raizada. "It's Indian Everyday: Difference between Khichri, Khichra and Haleem". Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  12. ^ http://www.desicookbook.com/recipe.aspx?recipe=17

Further reading

  • A Princely Legacy, Hyderabadi Cuisine By Pratibha Karan ISBN 81-7223-318-3 ISBN 978-81-7223-318-1