Starting today I am dong a month long blogging marathon with Indian states as the theme. I will be posting one recipe a day from one state, starting with Andhra Pradesh and ending with West Bengal. The blogging marathon group decided to do 28 states and the two union territories Delhi & Pondicherry I never done a 30 day marathon and was a bit nervous doing it. After sitting on it for couple of months, I decided to take up the challenge and it was and still is a lot of work, doing the research on the cuisine, picking the dish and then finding the right recipe! I have to thank my husband, Mr.U for eating all the food that I cooked. At one point he told me that just because he was eating what I cooked, I am experimenting way too much on him and he doesn’t like it at all. There were times when he just refused to eat but will get to that in later posts. I still have a handful of states to cook from and he flatly refused to taste anymore 🙁 He said I am more than welcome to cook what I want but not to expect him to taste it. Well, I will think about that later.
Though I decided to participate in the mega marathon back in December, I only stated cooking since mid-February and most of the cooking and was done last month. Some recipes worked out, some required recooking to suite our taste buds and some were just abandoned. Every morning and evening Mr.U would ask where I was taking him to or which state I was experimenting on him. By the last week of March, we were so tired of eating different cuisines and just wanted to eat our daily food for a change. Since past one week I have not cooked much for the BM. This whole process has been a good learning experience, a history, geography and a culinary lesson. There are at least 3-4 states that were bifurcated after I moved to the US and it was good read up for up to brush up on my knowledge on Indian states and the geography. Though I knew about formation of new states but never really checked how these states were carved out. There is a lot I wanted to write about what I learned during this research but not enough time. I wish I started working on this challenge a bit early to do justice to each and every cuisine of India. It is too late to think about it now and will try my best. Most of the information I gathered is from online sources and wiki to the large extent. If any of the information I mention is incorrect, please do correct me.
Andhra Pradesh is my home state and surprisingly it was quite a challenging picking a dish for this state. The minute I decided to do this challenge, I thought I would do gongura pachadi then changed my mind so many times. Later it was gongura mutton, biryani, salan, khurbani ka meetha, and mutton fry and finally decided on haleem. Last week when I realized Ugadi is on the 31st, I thought of doing bhakhaslu (puran poli) and put off working on this post till the last minute. Bhakshalu are prepared on Ugadi and it is also prepared on special occasions such as marriages, housewarming party, and cradle ceremony and on many special occasions. Even if the bhakshalu are not served for the guests, at least a few are prepared for the sake of tradition. So I thought it would be a good way to start the mega marathon on a sweet note. And yesterday my bhakshalu failed me and were not good enough to put up on the blog. Thank god I had a backup recipe, the haleem I initially planned to do and already cooked. Before getting to the recipe, let me tell you a little about the state & the food.
Andhra Pradesh (AP) consists of three regions, Andhra, Rayalasema and Telangana. Back in February, parliament passed a bill to bifurcate the state to make Telangana the 29th state of the country. But we struck to our original plan not complicate things. The food in these regions varies depending on the climate and the crops grown. AP produces lot of rice and it is a staple food in the state. Most of the food prepared is based of rice. AP also grows lot of chilies and is used liberally in the food. Dialect of the state is Telugu and Telugu cuisine uses lot of spices, chilies, coconut and tamarind and, the food tends to be hot, spicy and tangy. State of Hyderabad included Telangana, Marathwada and parts of Karnataka which was ruled by the Nizams, before the state was reorganized based on the language spoken. Hyderabad cuisine is a combination of Mughlai, Persian and Arabic cuisines along with the influence of the natives. Similarly, Hyderabad cuisine has an influence on Telugu cuisine as well.
Vegetables, lentils, tamarind, coconut, sesame seeds and peanuts are used a lot in Telugu cuisine. Non-vegetarian food includes mutton, chicken, fish and prawns although mutton followed by chicken is the preferred choice of meat. The state has a long coastline on the east making seafood quite popular food in the coastal areas. Although fish and prawns are quite popular in the inner regions of the state as well, peetala koora ~ crab curry is a delicacy in the coastal area. Tamarind is used a lot and pulusu is an everyday food in most of the households. Pulusu is a tamarind based gravy prepared with almost all vegetables grown in the state. For non-vegetarians, it is egg or kodi guddu pulusu and chepala pulusu ~ fish pulusu. Pulusu is not prepared with mutton and chicken and, tamarind is seldom used to prepare mutton and chicken gravies. The only except where tamarind is used in mutton and chicken preparations is when making soup; bone soup or when preparing dalcha, and it is usually prepared with mutton. Pickles and chutneys are integral part of the cuisine. Pickles are known as ooragaya, pachadi or thokku depending on the region and chutneys are pachadi or roti pachadi. Roti pachadi is chutney that is ground in a stone based motar and these days blenders and food processors have taken over the good old stone motar pestle. I do have to admit, although it is very easy to grind chutneys in blenders, grinders or food processors, the taste is not the same as the chutney ground in a stone mortar.
The traditional and long lasting pickles are usually prepared with mangoes, lime or lemon, raw tamarind and, pickles made with vegetables such as carrots, potato, cauliflower etc. have a short self life. Pickles are also prepared with chicken, mutton, prawns and fish but these pickles last only few days and stay good for months when refrigerator. Just like other cuisines we also have traditional sweets and snacks with long shelf life.
Some of the food from this state are pulihora made of tamarind, lime & raw mango, pesarattu, pesarattu upma combo, gongura pachadi, gutti vankaya, biryani, mirchi ka salan, dalcha, ragi sankati, chepala pulusu, natu kodi koora ~ country chicken curry, mutton koora to name a few. Koora or kura is a dry curry. Some of the traditional sweets are arisalu, sunni undalu, khaja, penilu, pootharekulu to name a few. Some of the traditional snacks with long shelf life are chegodilu, janthikalu~murukulu, garelu ~ appalu, karapoosa, sakinalu to name a few. Sakinalu are a specialty from Telangana regions.
Some of Hyderabad specialties are the famous Hyderabad biryani mirchi ka salan, dahi chutney or raita, bagara baigan, paaya, dalcha, haleem, faluda, double ka meeta (bread pudding) and khurbani ka meetha (apricot pudding).
I am from the Telangana region & what I write about the food from Telangana is based on how the food is cooked at home and the food habits of my friends & family. Telangana region was part of Hyderabad state before it was merged with Andhra Pradesh and food from Telangana region to large extent is influenced by the Nizam cuisine and also its neighboring states. Rice and roties are very common food; however, rice is usually served for lunch and dinner and, roties for breakfast & sometimes for dinner.
Unlike common belief, idly & dosa which is associated with South Indian food and with Andhra /Telugu cuisine were not a common food in Telangana households until 20-25 years ago. In fact, I clearly remember my maternal grandmother asking my mother the recipe for idly & dosa about 20 years ago. Also, unlike very common belief in rest of India, idly & dosa are not prepared for lunch and dinner but are prepared for breakfast and often served as a light meal, late in the afternoons or for dinner. These can also be served for lunch or dinner, but it is usually rice and curries that make it to the dining table.
Some of the common breakfast items that were prepared when I was young were poori, rottelu, upma, attukulu (poha or beaten rice), uppudi pindi (upma with rice rava), biyyapattu or rice flour dosa and khichdi. Gradually the breakfast menu changed and idly & dosa have become part of the everyday menu. Rottelu are parathas that are rolled thinner than the parathas that are usually prepared in the North & Western India.
Sesame seeds are used extensively in Telangana cooking. Sesame seed powder is used in most of the vegetable chutneys ~ roti pachadlu and some of the vegetables that have masala, such as sorakaya masala or sorakaya poornam, beerakaya masala or beerakaya poornam, vankaya poornam or gutti vankaya. It is also sprinkled on some of the curries such as tomato koora (tamata ukkera), onion curry (ulligada ukkera), capsicum koora and so on.
Pachi pulusu is a very common charu or pulusu which is made with tamarind water. Tamarind water is seasoned with crushed green chilies or roasted and crushed green chilies, lots of sliced onions and then is tempered. Tamarind water is not boiled so the name pachi (raw) pulusu. Pappu or dal and pachi pulusu is a one the best combinations and is comfort food. My father was a meat lover and at least one non-veg item was a must for every meal. However, on Saturdays he was a pure vegetarian and his favorite food on that day was pachi pulusu and pappu. Pappu also pairs well with pulusu and in some households pappu is a must whenever pulusu is prepared.
Sarva pindi, a savory crispy pan cake is a specialty from this region, although I never remember eating it until 10-12 years ago. It was never prepared at my parents place but do remember hearing about it from my maternal family. I tell you, sarva pindi is so addictive once I start munching on it, I can’t keep my hands off it until I finish it all off.
Another very traditional specialty is sakinalu. It is a snack prepared with rice flour that is pre-soaked and then beaten to flour. This is savory coaxial circular shaped snack. The only seasoning that goes into the snack is salt and ajwain and lots of sesame seeds. A spicy version of sakinalu is also made with red chili paste or green chili paste but salty ones are the most common version. It is a custom to prepare sakinalu for Sankrati and also during marriages. During the weddings, it is a custom that the bride takes sakinalu and few other sweets and snacks with her to her married family and her in-laws then distribute it to their family & friends. In olden days, the sakinalu that the bride takes with her were at least 10-12” in diameter. Preparation of sakinalu is time consuming and one needs practice to make the thin rows of concentric circles.
I think I am getting carried away and have written a lot and will stop here. But I feel there is more to write. I promise, rest of the posts are going to be short and thanks for reading through this lengthy post. Coming to today’s recipe, it is a delicacy from Hyderabad. Haleem is a wheat, lentils and meat stew or porridge popular in the Middle East, Central & South Asia. Each region has variation of haleem. It is usually prepared during Ramadan or Ramzan. It is slow cooked porridge high in calories and is eaten to break the Ramada fast.
Marinate: (This is optional. I got the meat a day before I made it. So I marinated it but it is not required. Can add all these along with meat when frying meat in oil)
- 930 gm Goat Meat with bone
- 1 Tbsp. Ginger Garlic paste
- 1 tbsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 - 1 ½ tsp. Chili Powder (adjust to taste keeping in mind the garam masala that goes into it)
- ½ - 1 tsp. Cardamom seeds (I used ½ tsp. and felt could have added more)
- 16 – 20 Cloves (I used 16 but can add more for spicy haleem)
- ½ tsp. Shah Jeera ~ Caraway Seeds
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks 1” long
Step 1 - Pressure Cook Meat 1st time:
- 3 ½ tbsp. Oil
- ½ the Garam Masala Ingredients
- 2 – 3 tbsp. Ginger Garlic Paste
- ½ cup Water
Step 2 - Wheat & Lentils:
- 1 cup Cracked Wheat
- ½ - 1 cup Chana Dal (forgot how much I used. I think I used ½ cup)
- ½ cup or 100 grams Masoor Dal or Red Lentils
- ¼ cup Urad Dal
- 1 ½ tbsp. Oil
- 1 tsp. Salt
Step 3 & 5- Other Ingredients:
- 4 tbsp. Oil
- 4 tbsp. Butter
- 280 grams or 2 medium Onions sliced or 2 ½ cup sliced Onions
- 1 tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 – 3 cups Water (when cooking together meat and wheat mixture)
- Lime Juice as required
- Cilantro ~ Coriander leaves chopped for garnish
- Garam Masala Powder if required.
Step 4 - Pressure Cook Meat 2nd time:
- 8 - 10 Green chilies (I used 8)
- 1 cup Yogurt
- 5-8 Mint Leaves chopped or ¼ cup loosely packed chopped Mint
- ½ cup loosely packed chopped Cilantro
- 1 small – medium sized Tomato chopped or ½ - ⅔ cup chopped Tomatoes (opt.)
- ⅔ – ¾ cup Fried Onions
- 1 tsp. Coriander Powder (opt)
- ¼ tsp. Roasted Cumin Powder (opt)
- ½ cup Water
- 2 pressure cookers, at least 4 liters in size
- 1 saucier or a sauce pot, at least 5 quart size
- Wash meat and keep aside. As I mentioned above, I bought the meat a day before I made haleem. Since I was refrigerating the meat, I thought I might as well marinate it with some salt, chili powder and ginger garlic paste listed under marinate. If refrigerated, bring the meat to room temperature before cooking it.
Step 1 - Pressure Cook Meat 1:
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add ½ the garam masala ingredients, ginger garlic paste and sauté for few seconds. Add meat and fry it for few minutes until meat is lightly brown and ginger garlic paste coats the meat.
- Add ½ c water and pressure cook the meat for 5-6 whistles and 3-5 minutes on low heat. Or cook until meat is tender, just as you would to make a curry.
- Let the pressure subside. It will take at least 10-15 minutes for the cooker to cool down, before it can be opened.
- Open the cooker, shred the meat from the bones and keep aside. Place the shredded meat back in the cooker.
Step 2 - Wheat & Lentils:
- Heat oil in another pressure cooker or a pan and heat oil listed under wheat & lentils. Fry wheat, lentils and remaining garam masala for few minutes on medium – medium heat. When they are lightly toasted, remove from fire and let cool.
- Once the mixture cools, grind the wheat lentils to coarse powder and put it back in the pressure cooker.
- Add the bones that were kept aside in step 1 to wheat lentils powder. Also add salt and 7 ½ - 8 cups of water. The ratio here is 1: 3 ½ wheat lentils mixture to water. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles on high and 30 minutes on low.
Step 3 - Fry the Onions:
- Heat oil & butter listed under other ingredients. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onion and fry to golden grown. Remove from oil and keep aside.
Step 4 - Pressure Cook Meat 2:
- Put the meat from step 1 back on the stove add the ingredients listed under step 4, except water. Mix well until the yogurt blends into the meat and begins to boil. Add ½ cup water and pressure cook for 3 whistles on high, reduce the heat to low and cook for 45 minutes.
Step 5 - Final Cooking:
- Once both the pressure from both the cookers cool, open and transfer the wheat lentils mixture and the meat to a big sauce pan. Add water and cook the meat lentils mixture stirring it. With the back of the spoon mash the meat and remove the bones. Potato masher can be used but I did not use it. I left some shredded pieces as it is and I like biting on the meat when eating the haleem. Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes on medium heat until desired consistency is reached.
- Add oil & butter in which onions were fried, add salt and give it a good stir. Taste it and adjust seasoning. Add garam masala powder if it is not spicy enough.
- Serve it hot. Garnish it with fried onions and cilantro.
- I used goat leg with bones. Lamb can also be used.
- Marination is not required for this preparation but I just did. All the ingredients listed in marination can be added to meat in step 2.
- I followed five steps but it can be done in 4 steps. Step 4 can be skipped and all the ingredients that were used in step 4 can be added to the meat in step 1 and pressure cooked for 6-7 whistles and then for 45 - 60 minutes on low flame. If skipping step 4, in step 2 pressure cook the wheat lentils mixture without the bones.
- Wheat & Lentils: I used chana dal, masoor dal and urad dal but more dals can also be used. Masroor dal can be substituted with moong dal. Also, some recipes used barley. I also read that oats are a good substitute for barley. For almost 1 kg meat or 2.2 lbs meat, make sure wheat & lentils mixture does not exceed 500 - 600 grams.