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Beef Haleem

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Beef haleem is too good not to try! This recipe is amazing and one of my all time favourites.

Beef haleem might look a bit strange but it’s incredible. The beef, lentils and wheat offer the perfect combination of flavours together with the special beef haleem spice blend. This beef haleem recipe is very similar to the chicken haleem I posted a while back. It does take a little longer to cook though because the stewing beef requires a good, long cook.

Beef haleem

About this beef haleem recipe.

Beef haleem is the most popular haleem. Chicken haleem and also mutton haleem are both very good but beef is the king of the all. Mutton or lamb are used in India but beef haleem is the original and still most served in Pakistan.

Haleem is a dish of lentils, wheat and meat that are slowly cooked in spices for a few of hours until it becomes sticky and gooey.

The sticky and gooey description might sound a bit strange to you but believe me… once you try this beef haleem, you are going to want to make it again often. It really is that good!

How long should you cook a beef haleem?

This is really down to you. In India and Pakistan, meat haleems are traditionally simmered over fire for up to 12 hours. Now I realise that most busy people these days don’t have the time or will to cook a meal for 12 hours so I have shortened the cooking time some.

That said, if you have the time, you can let your haleem simmer over a low heat for up to 12 hours too. The longer cooking will really break the ingredients down even more and the flavour will be substantially better too.

What do you serve with beef 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 beef haleem?

No. But each of the lentils used in my recipe add their own flavour to the dish so I do recommend that you 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 beef haleem.

Do you have to add the wheat?

You do need to add the wheat to make a proper beef 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.

Bulgur wheat vs cracked wheat

Cracked wheat is what is used in a traditional beef haleem. Whole bulgur wheat is much easier to source though at most supermarkets. They are essentially the same thing, the difference being that whole bulgur wheat has been par-cooked before packaging. 

So although it doesn’t look like it, whole bulgar wheat actually cooks faster than cracked wheat that has not been pre-cooked. 

You could use either because the long cooking time of the dish will cook either to perfection.

Do you really need to add that much ghee?

In the recipe card below, you will find the traditional way of making beef 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. Beef haleem is a truely indulgent dish that’s best served with lots of ghee for special occasions. 

Can you prepare beef haleem in advance?

Yes! In fact, as the flavours develop, your beef 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 use other cuts of beef?

Yes. I use stewing steak because this is a long, slow cook and stewing steak has great flavour and is also cheaper. Any cut of beef will do though. More expensive cuts will cook faster but I really recommend using some kind of stewing steak such as chuck.

Pro Tips

  1. Soaking the lentils and wheat: You should soak the lentils and meat overnight if time permits. This will ensure a faster cook.
  2. Cook low and slow: The longer you can simmer your beef haleem the better. Just be sure to stir often as the lentils do have a tendency to catch to the pan.
  3. Serve with garnishes: You should consider serving the haleem with fresh chopped chillies, julienned ginger and lime wedges for extra flavour. These can all be added to taste.

Haleem in step by step photographs.

Ingredients for beef haleem

Get all of your ingredients together before starting. There are a lot of them!

Lentils and wheat for the haleem.

Here are the lentils and wheat you need to prepare the perfect beef haleem.

Toasting the spices for the haleem spice blend.

To prepare the beef haleem spice blend, toast the whole spices over a medium heat until warm to the touch and fragrant.

Spice blend for haleem.

Allow to cool some and then grind to a fine powder.

Frying onions in ghee.

Fry the sliced onions in ghee for about 15 minutes or until deep brown in colour and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel.

Browning beef meat.

Using the same ghee and pan, brown the meat for a few minutes over a medium-high heat.

Simmering the meat.

Pour in just enough water to cover and simmer, covered for about 2 hours or until the meat is fall apart tender.

Shredded cooked beef and beef bone marrow.

I allowed mine meat to cool overnight in the fridge as I wasn’t in a hurry. Shred the beef. It’s easier to shred when cold. Be sure to add that bone marrow too!

Soaked lentils ready for cooking.

While the meat is simmering, you can start cooking the lentils. These lentils and wheat were soaked overnight for a faster cook.

Skimming foam off the cooking lentils.

Cover with about 2 litres (8 cups) water and bring to a simmer. As it comes to a simmer, foam will rise to the top. Skim that off.

You really need to watch those beef haleem lentils!

I can’t stress enough how important it is to stir those lentils while they cook! If you don’t, they will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

If this happens to you. pour the lentils into a large bowl, clean out the burn lentils and pour the lentil back into the pot. 

When you first start cooking, stirring can be done every 10 minutes or so. When you are finishing up cooking, you will need to stir continuously.

Blending the lentils and wheat.

After a few hours of simmering, you lentils and wheat will be super tender. For best results, you should blend them so that your beef haleem is really creamy.

Adding the spice blend, the shredded meat and bone marrow to the sauce.

Add the shredded beef, bone marrow and the spice blend to the blended sauce.

Finishing up the haleem.

Stir it all together. The colour will change because of the spices. You can now simmer this a good few hours longer or just serve. If cooking for longer, be sure to stir regularly.

Reducing the sauce to thicken.

I simmered my sauce down until it was thick like split pea soup. Stirring all the time is essential when doing this. When you are happy with it, add plenty of salt to taste.

Serving the beef haleem.

Serve topped with the fried onions, ginger, lime wedges, chopped coriander and chillies.

Eating haleem with a naan.

No need for a fork when you’ve got naans. Just scoop it all up and enjoy.


Yield: 6 - 8

Beef Haleem

Beef haleem


  • 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 stewing steak
  • 1 marrow bone canoes (optional for flavour)
  • 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 then soak the lentils and wheat for at least 3 hours or overnight. The longer you soak these ingredients, the faster your beef 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. You want the lentils to be really creamy so either crush them with the back of a spoon or blend them with a hand blender which is much faster and easier.
  4. Once cooked, add about 500ml (2 cups) water and simmer gently while you prepare the beef. You want this blend to look creamy smooth like pea soup.
  5. Heat the ghee for the beef in a large pan or wok over medium high heat.
  6. When visibly hot, add the sliced onions and fry for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the fried onions to a paper towel to soak up any excess ghee.
  7. Add the beef and marrow bone, if using and fry, stirring regularly for about 15 minutes or until the meat is beginning to brown all over. Add just enough water to cover and simmer for about 60 minutes or until you can easily break the meat apart with a spoon. You want the meat to be so tender that it literally falls apart so continue simmering and adding more water as needed until the meat is really tender.
  8. Transfer the cooked meat and marrow bone to a plate to cool and then shred it into very small pieces. Also, if you have a marrow bone, get all the marrow out of it and chop it up too.
  9. Pour the meat and cooking stock into the pot with the lentils and wheat.
  10. Simmer it all 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.
  11. 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 beef, lentils and wheat.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Pour about half of this over the haleem. The remaining tarka can be added to taste at the table. Serve with moresliced green chillies and julienned ginger at the table if you like and lime wedges which can be squeezed over the haleem to taste.  

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