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.
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 naans, Peshwari naans, stove top naans, keema naans, garlic naans, tandoor 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.
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.
- 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
- FOR THE HALEEM
- 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
- FOR THE HALEEM MASALA
- 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
- FOR THE TARKA
- 125ml (1/2 cup) ghee
- 5 tbsp julienned ginger
- 2 – 6 green finger chillies, thinly sliced
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 962mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 18gSugar: 9gProtein: 25g