Almost Paleo Haleem – Hearty and Spicy Lamb Stew

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Haleem, haleem, haleem is what most of my husband’s dreams are made of.  He loves this dish with a passion.  He claims the best haleem is made in Chicago at a popular Pakistani restaurant and I would have to agree.

Haleem, my friends, is a hearty lamb or beef stew made with bone-in meat cooked in a spicy curry and then thickened with wheat and lentils.  The curry is then pulverized into a thick soup and eaten with leavened crusty bread, such as naan, ladened with ghee or eaten with a hearty loaf of bread slathered in butter.

 

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Several weeks ago a friend approached me about making a paleo Haleem.   Now, since the paleo diet does not include wheat or lentils, I was put to the test.  Should I use tapioca, or some squash or maybe some banana flour to thicken it.  I thought about this for a couple of days and then…  Of course, it dawned upon me, it had to be quinoa, my friendly seed!  As if the lamb was not enough protein – wink, wink.

At first, I attempted the haleem with chicken, adding the quinoa and split peas and it tasted really good.  However, it did not have the slippery, slightly gelatanous texture associated with haleem.  This texture is usually achieved by adding lamb or beef bones to the stew.  I then tried it a couple more times, once with beef and then with bone in lamb.  The lamb, a mix of shoulder and shanks worked the best.

 

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Before I do go on with sharing my recipe, I have to admit.  I was a little confused about quinoa being paleo enough.  Unfortunately after much research, it seems that quinoa is not very paleo, but it is allowed in the diet every now and then.  Another issue I ran into, was if the use of dried split peas was looked upon favorably?  It is debatable as to whether it is a legume, and it may be frowned upon by some, but I think it will just have to do for this recipe.

All this hum drum of paleo or not paleo had me tossing and turning for a couple of nights.  Therefore, I chose to call this the “Almost Paleo Haleem”.   I hope my efforts to recreate my husband’s beloved haleem, which he loves by the way, will be just as good for you my friends, paleo or not.

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Almost Paleo Haleem

You will need

1/2 cup of tricolor quinoa
1/2 cup of dried split peas
3 tablespoon grape seed oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 tablespoon ginger, roughly chopped
3 large seranno’s, split lengthwise
2 lbs lamb (shoulder and shanks), cut into 3 inch pieces
2 tablespoons coriander, ground
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon gharam masala
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon whole peppers
2 large sticks cinnamon
1 large black cardamom
5 cloves
2 cups water
2 tablespoons tapioca flour or banana flour

To Make
Boil the quinoa according to package directions, drain and keep aside.
Boil the dried split peas till they are soft and mushy.
Heat the grape seed oil on medium.
Throw in the cumin seeds. They will begin to splutter.
Add the roughly chopped onions, two tablespoons of ginger and the slit serrano peppers to the pot.

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Once the onions turn brown toss in the lamb shanks, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic, gharam masala, cayenne pepper and salt.
Stir the meat to coat with the spices and the caramelized onions.

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Continue stirring the lamb on medium-high heat for a minute. This allows the spices to permeate the meat.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer the lamb for half and hour.
Add 2 cups hot water to the pot and stir.
Continue simmering the curry till the meat is tender adding more water if necessary.

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Carefully remove the bones, the cinnamon sticks and the black cardamom.
Add the cooked quinoa and peas to the curry and give it a good stir.

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With a hand blender, blend the curry till it’s smooth.

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Mix the banana flour with 1 cup water and pour into the curry.
Stir well to avoid any lumps.
Simmer gently for about half an hour.

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To serve
2 tablespoons ghee
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 inch ginger, cut into slivers
2 seranno peppers, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat the ghee in a shallow frying pan on medium heat.
Toss in the finely sliced onion and cook slowly till caramelized and crispy.
Drain on a paper towel.
Spoon the haleem into individual bowls, sprinkle with the caramelized onions, seranno peppers, cilantro and ginger.
Squirt with a generous squeeze of lemon.
If you’re not on a Paleo diet, tear off pieces of hot naan or bread, dip into the haleem and savor the delicious flavors of the hearty and spicy stew.

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Almost Paleo Haleem - Hearty and Spicy Lamb Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

You will need

1/2 cup of tricolor quinoa
1/2 cup of dried split peas
3 tablespoon grape seed oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 tablespoon ginger, roughly chopped
3 large seranno’s, split lengthwise
2 lbs lamb (shoulder and shanks), cut into 3 inch pieces
2 tablespoons coriander, ground
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon gharam masala
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon whole peppers
2 large sticks cinnamon
1 large black cardamom
5 cloves
2 cups water
2 tablespoons tapioca flour or banana flour

To Make
Boil the quinoa according to package directions, drain and keep aside.
Boil the dried split peas till they are soft.
Heat the grape seed oil on medium.
Throw in the cumin seeds. They will begin to splutter.
Add the roughly chopped onions, two tablespoons of ginger and the slit serrano peppers to the pot.
Once the onions turn brown toss in the lamb shanks, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic, gharam masala, cayenne pepper and salt.
Stir the meat to coat with the spices and the caramelized onions.
Continue stirring the lamb on medium-high heat for a minute. This allows the spices to permeate the meat.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer the lamb for half and hour.
Add 2 cups hot water to the pot and stir.
Continue simmering the curry till the meat is tender adding more water if necessary.
Carefully remove the bones, the cinnamon sticks and the black cardamom.
Add the cooked quinoa and peas to the curry and give it a good stir.
With a hand blender, blend the curry till it’s smooth.
Mix the banana flour with 1 cup water and pour into the curry.
Stir well to avoid any lumps.
Simmer gently for about half an hour.

To serve
2 tablespoons ghee
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 inch ginger, cut into slivers
2 seranno peppers, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat the ghee in a shallow frying pan on medium heat.
Toss in the finely sliced onion and cook slowly till caramelized and crispy.
Drain on a paper towel.
Spoon the haleem into individual bowls, sprinkle with the caramelized onions, seranno peppers, cilantro and ginger.
Squirt with a generous squeeze of lemon.
If you’re not on a Paleo diet, tear off pieces of hot naan or bread, dip into the haleem and savor the delicious flavors of the hearty and spicy haleem.

 

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6 thoughts on “Almost Paleo Haleem – Hearty and Spicy Lamb Stew

  1. Delicious! It is interesting that occasional quinoa would be considered paleo. I have never heard of haleem, but it sounds like something I would like. What is the name of the restaurant in Chicago? I’d love to check it out!

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    • Hey HD! Yup it’s so confusing about the whole quinoa-paleo thing. The restaurant is on Devon Street and it’s called Usmania’s. They have a few things that are really good. Besides the haleem, I would order the Nihari – a beef stew cooking for hours till tender. Another favorite is the Chapli Kebab, it’s flat ground beef kebabs that are cooked till they’re really crispy and tender. So good! If you like brains like I do, I would get the goat brain masala, delicious! It tastes like spicy scrambled eggs! Yum! Now I’m wishing we lived closer. Hope this helps 🙂

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      • Thanks for telling me! I have only tried Pakistani cuisine a few times but have loved what I’ve tried. I will try Usmania’s for sure! Thanks also for the recommendations on what to order. 🙂 Have a great week!

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  2. Like HD, I have never heard of this soup, but it looks amazing! I’d go for the full-on wheat and lentils, though the almost-paleo looks like it rocks as well. Wanting a thick and hearty soup now 🙂

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    • Hey Liz! I think I’ve done my job well and passed the test if I have someone wanting to have the recipe off my post 😉 Haleem is a staple at most dinner parties. Usually takes a while to cook but I think my recipe is somewhat easier, especially if you use chicken breasts instead of the bone in lamb 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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