I am sad to say that Addie is still sick today. She got up this morning with the intention of going to school, but Scott and I, after much debate, decided to keep her home again due to the fact that she still looked pretty terrible, said that her throat hurt, and felt a little warm. Good thing that we did…She went back to bed at 7:30 and has been sleeping soundly for the last 3 hours. If this thing, whatever it is, doesn’t break soon, I’m afraid a trip to the doctor is in order. The fever is very low, and there’s no chills or anything to indicate the dreaded mosquito-borne illnesses that everyone fears here, but its going on a little too long for my comfort.
But, being home again today had a good point for me. Mujeeb showed up at the door at 9:30 to pick up Scott, bearing a gift of homemade haleem. A little note was attached from his wife, urging us to eat it right away while it was still warm.
Haleem is a dish that is served during the Muslim Holy month of Ramzan, during the festival of Ramadan, when Muslims must fast from sunup to sunset each day for an entire month. Being in the midst of Ramadan, haleem seems to be everywhere, with little roadside stands springing up in the evenings and signs touting its availability after sunset. After having heard so much about this famous dish, I was eager to try it. I actually thought it was pretty good. Not overwhelmingly spicy with a subtle nutmeg-like flavor to it. Very filling, as its meant to be. I am saving the rest of it for dinner tonight. I think the kids will eat it mixed with some curd (yogurt) over rice. They won’t eat a lot, but it will be a good way to help get the acclimated to Indian food. It has a ton of calories, so maybe it will put a little meat on Ender’s skinny bones.
For those of you who are wondering exactly what haleem is, here’s the lowdown from my favorite, yet questionable, information source: Wikipedia.
Hyderabadi haleem (Urdu: حيدر آبادی حلیم ) is a distinct variant of haleem originating in Hyderabad in South India. It is a popular dish during the Muslim festival of Ramadan.
It is a type of stew made from pounded wheat and mutton (or beef). It is in the form of thick paste.
It is the mainstay during the Holy month of Ramzan. The day-long fast end with the moulvi’s recital of the azaan. Haleem is a tradition for breaking fast (roza) at Iftar, with a plateful of this divinely delectable delicacy.
It is slow cooked for at least 10 hours in the bhatti (a cauldron covered with brick & mud kiln) and two men, usually, hit with large wooden sticks all through out the preparation, until it gets to a sticky-smooth consistency, similar to mashed mince.
The cooking of haleem in Hyderabad is mastered to an art form.
Even today meethi (sweet) and khari (salted) haleem variants are served for breakfast in the homes of the Arabs living in the Barkas area of Hyderabad. But the salted variety is popularly seen during the month of Moharram and Ramzan. The high-calorie haleem is the perfect way to break the ramzan fast. (it contains wheat, various lentils, meat, and pure ghee).
This traditional wheat porridge has its roots in Arabia, similar to harees. But this derivative of haleem is different from the rest, with a nice smooth paste of all ingredients well mixed.
In Hyderabad, haleem is the traditional starter at Muslim weddings, and is also most relished in Muslim functions or occasion.
Now I don’t think that Mujeeb’s wife cooked it for 10 hours or beat it with wooden sticks, since he did mention something about her cooking it for about 4 hours. Also, I’m picturing her in the kitchen with a large pot, not a cauldron covered with brick and mud, as I didn’t see anything like that when we visited their house, but the end result is still the same. How nice of them to think of us. I love the opportunity to learn about the traditions of the people who share our lives here.
For some further information on Ramadan, check out HERE. I found it very interesting and informative.