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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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Ultay Pultay Recipe (Indian Chana Pancake Curry) Recipe

Ultay pultay is what my father-in-law (I call him "Daddy"), who's a vegetarian, considers a festive dish. This dish is composed of thin, firmly pressed chickpea pancakes soaked in spicy gravy. The cooking time was a bit a long but seeing Daddy enjoy his meal was so rewarding. 

I learned to make ultay pultay from Lulu's paternal grandmother's sister. The entire family calls her Muni Baji in Urdu, which translates to "little sister" in English and she's indeed the youngest of a large brood; Lulu's grandmother was the eldest.

It was a lot of fun learning the curry dish from Muni Baji. She told me a lot of stories about her life in Hyderabad. For instance, the gravy calls for fried onion paste and back in the day, there was no blender so it was puréed by hand!


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Bhindi Subzi Recipe (Spicy Okra) Recipe

The taste and texture of okra differ drastically depending on the cooking method. I’m not a fan of the "slimier" preparations of okra, so I typically pan fry the veggie to keep it dry. In this recipe I used onion-flavored oil to cook the okra, then seasoned it with the usual Indian spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chili powder and a touch of garam masala. Once the okra was softened, I drizzled it with lemon juice and added a bit of sugar to balance the flavors.

I usually serve this with dal (lentil dish), barbari bread (sesame-studded Persian flat bread) or basmati rice. My mother-in-law and the girls have all gone on vacation for the summer, so it's just Lulu, baby Aria, Daddy (my father-in-law) and me at home. Daddy really enjoys Indian spicy food, so I hope my cooking makes him miss his wife and girls a little less. 


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Aloo Taheri Recipe (Indian Potato Rice) Recipe

Taheri is to Indian cuisine what risotto is to Italian cuisine. In the Indian version, basmati rice is cooked in the same manner as Arborio rice would be in risotto.

I cooked a few vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini (freshly picked from our garden) and carrots with caramelized onions and spices, then pan-fried pre-boiled potatoes. Once the vegetable mixture is very fragrant, the grains of basmati rice are incorporated and cooked until softened. Unlike pilaf, the rice is pre-boiled separately, then steamed on top of the vegetables, this method provides a very flavorful rice.

Aloo is Indian for "potato". I initially planned this recipe for my first cookbook  Haute Potato but later decided otherwise. Taheri is a very common Pakistani dish. My husband's aunt, Phoopi, is an expert Pakistani cook as her in-laws are the owner of the delicious Shezan in downtown Mountain View, California. If you're searching for authentic Pakistani and Indian cuisine, stop by, say hi and savor mouth-watering, spicy food.


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Paneer Masala Mushroom Appetizers Recipe

Paneer masala is pan-fried paneer cheese simmered in a spicy, creamy sauce. It is amazing with plain basmati rice or hot naan. But instead of serving this dish the traditional way, I used it as a filling for mushrooms. The bold flavor of the curry sauce marries beautifully with the earthiness of the mushrooms; they make the most delicious fusion appetizers.

The idea for these cute appetizers was inspired by my aunt, Ma Mười. She told me the first time she tried Indian food years ago at a restaurant, she was served a lot of little metal tins filled with colorful sauces. After a while, she asked the waiter when her main meal was going to arrive. She thought they were condiments and didn't realize that was her entire meal.

These appetizers showcase the wonderful flavors of Indian cuisine for those who are not really familiar with this culture. I've prepared pizzas, "naaninis" and other fusion dishes with Indian toppings in the past. Indian cuisine is boldly flavored, so pairing it with simple and attractive presentation techniques is a low-risk strategy for producing delicious new dishes.


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