Indian Stew Recipes

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Vegetarian Haleem Recipe Recipe

Vegetarian Haleem Recipe

07.22.13 by Jackie

Haleem is one of my husband Lulu's many favorite dishes. It has a velvety consistency and is usually made of pearled wheat germ (sometimes with barley as well), stewed meat (chicken, goat meat or beef shanks), five varieties of lentils and various spices. Since Lulu and his dad are vegetarians, I prepare it meat-free (so appropriate for our Meatless Mondays!). The thick lentil stew is served piping hot with fresh ginger cut into thin matchsticks, daikon pieces, fresh mint (sometimes with dill also), chopped chiles, lime wedges and a garnish of crispy fried onions. 

It used to be a labor-intensive task to turn the mixture into a thick paste, but  these days a food processor makes it easy breezy. Thank you so much to Phoopi (Daddy's sister) who taught me this wonderful dish, despite her extremely busy schedule. Lulu is so excited he wants to eat vegetarian haleem everyday!


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Vegetarian Nihari (Spicy Tofu Recipe) Recipe

One of my most favorite Indian dishes is nihari. It's a goat (or any other meat) stew dish. It's spicy, flavorful and the meat is extremely tender. I love dipping naans (flat Indian bread) in the sauce. But I always end up feeling so bad when I see my husband Lulu, who is a vegetarian, staring at me. So this time, I also made a tofu version using the same gravy sauce.

I chose medium-firm tofu and Japanese eggplants and deep-fried them. The texture is perfect once they are soaked in the spicy sauce. I also added broccoli for a balanced meal. The advantage of the veggie version is it's just as tasty, much healthier (I omitted the bhaghar, a typical final layer of red oil in a lot of Indian dishes) and it cooks a lot faster than the meat version.


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Nihari Recipe (Indian Lamb Stew) Recipe

There is a meat stew dish in every culture. The version from Indian cuisine, called nihari, is one of my favorites. I made some over the weekend with lamb shanks and lamb sirloin (my favorite), but other red meats such as mutton, goat or beef can work well. The key is to use very tender meat parts. The traditional garnish is a mix of fried onions, fresh ginger, cilantro, mint, cilantro, green chiles, sliced lemons and white radish sticks. I served it with naans which is also the standard way to enjoy the dish.

Nihari, in Urdu, is derived from the word "nihar", which translates to "morning sunrinse". Originally, the stew was usually eaten in the morning after prayers. The spicy stew is very flavorful thanks to the use of bone marrow. Interestingly, this is what gives Vietnamese phở broth its body.

My husband's aunt, Phoopi, taught me how to make it, but I first heard of the dish when I met Abbi, Lulu's late grandfather. He was a savvy bridge player and we would play from time to time. He told me that back in the days in Hyderabad, India, he would invite his pals over for an all night bridge game. There would always be a large pot of nihari waiting for them the following morning at the end of their game. The nihari would simmer overnight, tenderizing the meat and thickening the gravy. Lulu's late grandmother, Baji, would finish the dish with bhaghar, which is the final red oil layer of ghee (clarified butter) commonly used in a lot of Indian dishes. Delicious!


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