Haleem is a traditional Pakistani slow-cooked stew made of beef, lentils, and oats. This slow-cooker recipe makes it easy to enjoy this wholesome comfort food that’s loved all over the world. This recipe is easy-to-follow and gives the most authentic results. Naturally gluten-free!
From the makers of Easy Slow Cooker Nihari… comes Easier Slow Cooker Haleem.
Catchy, no? I’ve been wanting to say that.
Friends, I’m embarrassed how long it’s taken me to bring you this recipe. If you visit my Instagram stories, you may have witnessed my attempts at achieving this haleem. There are just so. many. variables.
But I assure you, the wait is worth it. Because all these months, I’ve been testing this recipe, each time making it a little better.
Who knows? I may even continue to update it as I gain more haleem expertise with age (that happens, right?).
So why ‘easier’, and not ‘easy’, you ask?
Haleem, by nature, isn’t a 30-minute one-pot meal-with-ingredients-you-probably-have-on-hand. A good haleem takes time, a few pans, and most likely a trip to the nearest Indian/Pakistani/Middle-Eastern grocery store.
But this haleem recipe is easier than most, and I hope you find it tastes better too!
What is Haleem?
Haleem (also called daleem, halim, etc.) is a popular stew derived from the Arabic dish Hareesa. (Wiki has all the details!)
I remember when I first made haleem with a very traditional recipe. I soaked and cooked the cracked wheat, barley, rice, and lentils (all individually). I ground the spices with mortar and pestle and shredded the cooked pieces of meat with a wooden spoon.
Phew..even thinking about it is exhausting!
I knew right then that I had to find an easier way; else I’d only make haleem once a year (if that). And we all know haleem is too healthy, comforting, and straight up delicious to make only once a year.
So this completely doable, authentic-tasting, and totally guest-worthy haleem recipe was born.
You are going to need (affiliate links):
- A slow cooker (I use this one).
- A food processor
- A slow cooker liner – optional but encouraged to help save cleanup time.
Lentils and Grains You’ll NeedClockwise from Top Left – Rolled Oats, Basmati Rice, Masoor Dal (Red Lentils), Urad (Mash) Dal, Chana Dal (Split Yellow Peas), and Moong Dal (sometimes called Yellow Lentils)
Some tips before you start:
- Ideally, you should cook this haleem twice. You may cook it straight for 10-12 hours (or overnight), but cooking twice will deliver the perfect, slow-cooked texture that’s inherent to haleem. Plus, the flavors will have time to settle in better.
- In this recipe, we use a food processor to chop up the lentils and meat individually. You’ll need to blend the lentils but the meat should be pulsed so that it maintains the strands (or fibers) of the meat. You don’t want your meat to turn to mush.
- To save time, I recommend using your food processor to chop the onions, tomatoes, and green chill peppers. Plus, you’ll need to get it out/dirty anyway for the meat and lentils.
- Make sure to have all the ingredients ready before you start. Yup, I completely realize there are lots of ingredients. If you can’t get your hands on all of them, no worries. It will still be wonderful!
- I’ve used Haleem Masala Powder for an extra oomph. You can find it at most Indian Pakistani Grocery Stores or Amazon.
- You can cook the lentils and meat in an instant pot or pressure cooker before adding it to the slow cooker. I’ve just kept it on the stovetop to keep things simple. You’ll need to adjust the amount of water if you do use a pressure cooker. For example, I’ve cooked the beef in an instant pot and found that I needed half the water that I use on the stovetop.
- I’ve been recommended to use muslin or cheesecloth to contain the spices while cooking the beef so they’re easier to fish out afterward. I haven’t tried this but I thought I’d pass on the tip.
Feel free to ask me any questions below. And if you make it, don’t forget to leave a review!
Are you ready?
Let’s do this!
Easier Slow Cooker Haleem (Pakistani Beef and Lentil Stew) – Gluten-Free
Lentils and Rice to Boil Together
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 5-6 cloves
- 1 black cardamom
- 2-3 green cardamom pods
- 2-3 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
For the Beef Preparation
- 1/4 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed or canola
- 2 tbsp ghee
- whole spices (listed above)
- 1 medium to large onion finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3/4 inch piece ginger
- 1 lb beef (I’ve used shank and sirloin) cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes
- 2 small to medium tomatoes chopped
- 1-2 green chili peppers (I use Serrano) chopped
- 2 tbsp whole milk yogurt
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 2 tsp red chili flakes or to taste
- 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp haleem masala powder
For the Slow Cooker
- 2 tbsp rolled oats
- 2 cups remaining stock from cooking the meat
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper optional
- pinch garam masala optional
For the Tadka (Tempering)
- 1 small or half medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp ghee or butter
- 2 tbsp grapeseed, canola, or other neutral oil
- cilantro chopped
- ginger julienned
- green chili peppers chopped
- lemons cut into wedges
- crispy fried onions (store-bought)
- Combine all the lentils and rice in a medium-sized bowl and fill with warm water. Use your hand to gently swirl the grains around until the water becomes murky. Tip the bowl to take out the excess water and repeat until the water runs clear. Let these soak in water for an hour and then strain.
- In a large pot, add the strained lentils and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove the foam and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Make sure the chana dal (yellow split peas) has completely cooked, as it takes the longest. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Strain using a colander.
- Heat oil and ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the whole spices and onions and sauté until lightly golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for about a minute until the raw smell disappears and the onions have deepened in golden color. Add the meat and continue to sauté until the color of the meat changes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients listed under meat (from the tomatoes to the haleem masala powder) and mix well. Add 4 cups of water and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the meat is cooked, about 1 1/2 hours in a regular pot. Keep checking this periodically to ensure the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add more water, if necessary.
- Once the meat is tender, place a large bowl under a strainer and strain so that the meat and stock separate. Use a fork to remove the beef pieces and set them aside. If you’re using bone-in meat, separate the meat from bone and discard the bones.
- Discard any large whole spices (the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick, and cardamoms) from the strainer and add the rest of leftover onion/tomato masala to the beef. (It’s okay if some whole spices remain in there. You’ll notice them later in the process.) Reserve the stock water (it will be about 2 cups. If not, add water to make it 2 cups).
- Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker liner (optional). In a food processor, blend the lentils and grains until smooth. Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker. In the same food processor, use the pulse function to chop the meat so that it is shredded but not completely smooth and mushy like the lentils and rice. You want the chunks gone but you want to maintain the shredded texture (or strands of the meat) as much as possible.
- Transfer this beef mixture to the slow cooker. Then add the oatmeal and 2 cups of the stock and mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Then remove it from the heat and allow to cool until you can refrigerate it. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, cover and cook on low again for 5-6 hours (add a bit of water if you’d like a thinner haleem). Open the lid, turn the heat setting to high, and taste to adjust seasoning. Stir in the freshly cracked black pepper and garam masala, if using. Allow the haleem to cook, stirring occasionally, with the lid open for about 30 minutes or until the desired texture is achieved.
- Place the haleem in your serving bowl. I've found the temperature of the haleem isn't too hot in the slow cooker so you can also transfer it to a regular pan and raise the heat if you'd like.
- Heat oil and ghee a little over medium heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. You'll have to stir more cautiously toward the end because you want them the deep brown color but not burnt.
- Pour the tadka over the haleem and mix. Garnish as desired with the garnishing and serve with more garnishing on the side.