The best man-made food: Needs 48 hours to Cook
It was by accident that I had landed in Hyderabad, India and had the good fortune to tentatively taste first and then gobble up four full plates of what possibly is the best of all meat dishes or any other dish that man has invented or concocted since he discovered fire. The man who passed for chef at the restaurant beamed at me but my wife, not much of an enthusiast in matters concerning me, looked alarmed. She pursed her lips to a fine thin line but I was not to be intimidated by her antics and got busy with the spoon and fork. (It is another matter that I had a mighty stomach upset the next day and the doctor who looked askance at me had muttered something very unpleasant in his own Telugu language, which I mercifully know only the name of).
The delicacy is known as Haleem and has been perfected over the centuries by the Arabs settled in the Indian city, though I hear there are many varieties of it in Turkey, Pakistan etc. The fact that it sells more than a billion rupees worth in one month during the month of Ramadan should give you an idea of its popularity.
Though a meal by itself, it doubles as a starter in wedding parties and other celebrations. There is no strict recipe as such. You can throw anything in to the large cauldron that takes in all the ingredients to make a fine stew. The basic ingredients are lentil, wheat and rather large size boneless meat pieces. Mutton or beef or chicken, anything is game.
A slow fire keeps the thick brew at a steady temperature. The authentic Haleem has to be on fire for 48 hours, stirred diligently and constantly by dutiful cooks. Commercialization has shrunk the cooking time to 8 hours but you can only expect a six-fold decrease in taste.
I coaxed the chef into giving away his secret recipe which is no long a secret now though he flatly refused to part with his unique masala which, he assured me, can be replaced with the masala that is available in the market.
The things you need:
1 Kg Wheat
1 Kg Basmati Rice
1 Kg Lamb chop
250g Split peas
6 tablespoons Cumin
5 tablespoons Maize Starch
2 Large Onions
6 teaspoon Masala
Juice of 6 Lemons
3 Cups Coriander leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
I apologize profusely that I am not allowed to disclose the cooking process here. I might be able to do that if contacted personally. What I can tell you is that it takes 48 hours of cooking on slow fire, dutiful cooks stirring the stew diligently and patiently. Commercialization has shrunk the duration to 8 hours or so. But then, you would will have to put up with a lesser tasting heavenly food.