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Chicken Haleem

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Chicken haleem is the ultimate comfort food! You can make this easily at home.

What I have for you here is a traditional and authentic chicken haleem recipe. This is seriously comfort food at its best! If you ever go to a good Pakistani restaurant, chicken haleem will almost certainly be on the menu. Now you can make it at home with restaurant quality results. You will find step by step photographs of how to prepare one of the most popular Pakistani dishes around. 

Chicken Haleem

About this chicken haleem recipe.

Chicken haleem is actually only the second most popular haleem recipe with beef haleem taking first prize. That said, chicken haleem is still hugely popular and as my family prefers chicken, that’s the recipe I decided to make today.

You will find chicken haleem to be lighter than the beef version and just as good.  Haleem is a dish of lentils and meat that are slowly cooked for a couple of hours until it becomes sticky and gooey.

That may not sound appealing to you but believe me, once you try this chicken haleem, you are going to want to make it again often. It really is that good!

You are going to love the amazing flavour of the chicken, slowly simmered in all those different lentils and wheat. Chicken recipes do not get any better.

What do you serve with chicken haleem?

Naans and chapatis are always good with a homemade haleem. I have a lot of good recipes for you here. Why not try  Instant naansPeshwari naansstove top naanskeema naansgarlic naanstandoor naans (if you have a tandoor oven), or if you’re cooking outdoors, karahi naans. You might also like to try these  homemade chapatis.

Do you have to use so many different lentils in chicken haleem?

Each of the different lentils have their own flavour that they add to the dish so you will want to use them all if you can source them. They are all available online and at Asian shops.

You could cheat, however and omit one or two varieties and just top it up with one of the others. Chana dal is a must, however and as chana dal is one of the easiest to source, you shouldn’t find that a problem.

I can’t stress enough, however that from my experiments, you really do want to get all those different lentils into your chicken haleem.

Do you have to add the wheat?

You do need to add the wheat to make a proper chicken haleem. It is one of the ingredients that turns this from something similar to a dal to the gooey deliciousness it is.

That said, you could leave it out if you are gluten free and still have a delicious dish.

Do you really need to add that much ghee?

In the recipe card below, you will find the traditional way of making haleem which does call for a lot of ghee. That’s how it’s done and it’s how I wanted to show the recipe to you.

You could, however reduce the amount of ghee to preference. Chicken haleem is a truely indulgent dish that’s best served with lots of ghee for special occasions. 

Can you prepare chicken haleem in advance?

Yes! In fact, as the flavours develop, your chicken haleem will get even better.

You can prepare the dish one or two days ahead of serving and then just heat it up. You should, however prepare and add the tarka just before serving. 

Can you substitute beef or lamb in this recipe?

Yes! Just add beef stewing meat or lamb shoulder instead of the chicken and carry on with the recipe.

Haleem in step by step photographs.

Ingredients for chicken haleem

Get all your ingredients together before you start. It’s easier that way and as you can see, there are a lot of them.

The lentils and wheat for the chicken haleem.

Not photographed above are the essential lentils and wheat. Let then soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. Clockwise are moong, urid, massor, cracked wheat and chana. 

Soaking the lentils.

Lentils soaking. You should soak the wheat separately.

Frying sliced onions in ghee.

Fry the sliced onions until golden brown and crispy. This should take about 15 minutes.

Cooking the chicken in the ghee.

Remove the fried onions from the ghee with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Then add the chicken to the onions seasoned ghee.

Cooked chicken in the ghee.

Cook the chicken until it is completely cooked through and can easily be shredded.

Shredded chicken

Remove the chicken from the pan with a slotted spoon and shred it by hand or with a couple of forks.

How to use less ghee…

You could opt for not pouring all the ghee into the pan with the lentils. Use it to cook the chicken and then perhaps save a little for the tarka.

Chicken and fried onions in the pan with the ghee.

Once shredded, return the chicken to the pan with the ghee and add about 3/4 of the fried onions, leave some behind to garnish. Stir well and set aside.

Cooking the lentils.

Now take a large pot and add the lentils. Cover with water or chicken stock and simmer until you can literally smash them between two fingers.

The haleem spice blend

While the lentils are cooking, prepare your haleem spice blend. Toast the whole spices in a pan until fragrant but not yet smoking. Then grind to a fine powder and stir in the ground spices.

Adding the shredded chicken, fried onions and ghee to the pot.

Pour the shredded chicken, onions and all the ghee into hot lentils

Stirring salt and the haleem spice blend into the chicken haleem.

Stir in your prepared haleem spice blend and season with salt to taste. Keep simmering until the haleem is rich and gooey.

Preparing the tarka

Just before serving, prepare the tarka and then pour it over the top to serve.

Chicken haleem

You are going to love this! Garnish with the remaining fried onions and the tarka.

Chicken haleem

Dig in!

If you like this chicken haleem from Northern India and Pakistan, you will most definitely want to try some of these too!

Beef Haleem
Grilled Butter Chicken the Old Delhi way!
Dum aloo – Potato Curry
Beef Nihari Sandwich
Curry Stuffed Naans
Beef Biryani
Chicken Shami Kebabs
Pakistani Chickpea Biryani
Chicken Keema Pav
Chicken Changezi – This curry is amazing!!
Chicken Samosas
Beef Samosas
Vegetarian Samosas
Air-Frier Onion Bhajis

Have you tried this chicken haleem recipe?

If yes, please give it a star rating in the comments below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

Yield: 6

Chicken Haleem

Chicken haleem
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes


  • 350g (2 cups) chana dal
  • 170g (1 cup) masoor dal
  • 85g ( ½ cup) moong dal
  • 85g ( ½ cup) white urad dal
  • 180g (1 cup) cracked wheat
  • Salt to taste
  • 250ml (1 cup) ghee
  • 2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 generous tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1kg (2 ¼ lbs) chicken thighs, on the bone and skin removed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 black cardamoms, seeds only
  • 4 green cardamoms, seeds only
  • 1 ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • ¼ nutmeg or ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 blade mace or ½ tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 – 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (optional)
  • 250ml (1 cup) water
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) ghee
  • 5 tbsp julienned ginger
  • 2 – 6 green finger chillies, thinly sliced


  1. Wash and soak the dals and wheat for at least 3 hours or overnight. The longer you soak these ingredients, the faster your haleem will cook to perfection. Once soaked, pour the lentils and wheat into a large saucepan and cover with about 1.5L (6 cups) water.
  2. Bring to a simmer over a medium high heat, skimming off any foam that floats to the top. Lower the cooking heat to medium and continue cooking for about two hours or until you can easily crush all the lentils and wheat between two fingers. You might need to add a little more water as this cooks and be careful not to let the dal burn to the bottom.
  3. Once cooked, add about 500ml (2 cups) water or chicken stock and simmer gently while you prepare the chicken. You want this blend to look creamy smooth like pea soup. Heat the ghee for the chicken in a large pan or wok over medium high heat.
  4. When visibly hot, add the sliced onions and fry for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the fried onions to a paper towel to soak up any excess ghee.
  5. Add the chicken and fry, stirring regularly for about 15 minutes or until the meat is beginning to fall off the bone. Start breaking it apart with a wooden spoon or spatula until all the meat is off the bones. Remove all of the bones and discard. Continue breaking the meat apart and shredding it until there are no big pieces.
  6. Pour this into the pot with the lentils and wheat can simmer on a low to medium heat while you prepare the haleem masala. Although toasting the spices is not essential, it will give you a richer flavour. If roasting, pour all of the whole spices into a frying pan and toast over a medium heat until warm to the touch and fragrant but not yet smoking.
  7. Transfer to a plate to cool some and then grind to a fine powder. Stir in the Kashmiri chilli powder and then mix with the water. Stir to combine and then pour this into the simmering pot of chicken, lentils and wheat.
  8. Continue cooking the Haleem until it is creamy smooth and somewhat gooey. It should literally ooze off your spoon. Season with salt to taste. I usually add about 2 tbsp salt but how much is down to your personal taste preferences.
  9. To finish, heat the ghee for the tarka in a small pan. When bubbly hot, stir in the julienned ginger and chillies and fry for a couple of minutes, until the ginger is about one tone darker in colour.
  10. Pour about half of this over the haleem. The remaining tarka can be added to taste at the table. Serve with the lime wedges which can be squeezed over the haleem to taste.  

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 962mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 18gSugar: 9gProtein: 25g

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