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Hareesa the slow-cooked, perennial winter favourite.

Byline: Aamir Yasin

RAWALPINDI -- Though we have all sorts of local and continental foods available in the twin cities in all sorts of settings from cafes, dhabas and upscale restaurants to takeout and delivery options, the food assembled in the lanes of downtown Rawalpindi will always have a special place in the hearts of locals.

One can find almost all the foods from across the Indian subcontinent in these streets from a breakfast of sri paya and halwa puri, to a steaming bowl of gajar ka halwa and doodh jalebi.

After the partition of the Indian subcontinent, people migrated to Pakistan from Delhi, Kashmir, Bihar and Indian Punjab, bringing with them recipes of the traditional foods they loved.

From Purana Qila to Sarafa Bazaar, one can find shops selling foods from all corners of the subcontinent including nihari from Delhi, kulcha, hareesa and tea from Kashmir, halwa puri from Amritsar and dahi bhaley from Delhi.

One such shop has been selling Kashmiri hareesa for many years.

Hareesa is very similar to haleem in appearance but very different in taste. It is a thick paste of lentils including mong, mash, channa and wheat grain and is mixed with mutton.

All the ingredients are cooked on low heat for many hours and mixed with a wooden spoon till it is a thick paste.

From Purana Qila to Sarafa Bazaar, one can find shops selling foods from all corners of the subcontinent such as hareesa. White Star

Unlike haleem, small meat balls or kebabs are added to the paste when it is cooked and instead of the heavy spices used in haleem, pepper is added to hareesa though the local version also has red and green chillies to make it better suited to local taste.

The recipe comes from Srinagar and the valley areas. The dish is only prepared on special events by professional chefs in the small towns of Jammu and Kashmir.

'I have come from Abbottabad for shopping in Raja Bazaar and Moti Bazaar and came to this shop because my friends said they may very good hareesa,' said Waqar Jadoon.

He said the dish is great for winters and that he usually haves it for dinner after a long day or for breakfast on the weekends with his family.

'I like haleem but hareesa is better because it is lighter and wholesome. It is not spicy,' said Mohammad Anwar, a resident of Purana Qila.

He said he does not like to have food from outside but some shops in the old downtown areas make very good food which he has been having for years.

From Purana Qila to Sarafa Bazaar, one can find shops selling foods from all corners of the subcontinent such as hareesa. White Star

Another resident, Sheikh Ahmed said there are many haleem shops in the city but not many of hareesa.

'Cooks from Amritsar make good hareesa as well but there is no match for the recipe from Kashmir,' he said.

Malik Aslam, who has run Dilbar Hotel the last 40 years, told Dawn his father had brought the recipe for hareesa with him from Srinagar.

'Milk is used instead of water in hareesa, which makes it a good breakfast food as well,' he said.

He said chefs from Amritsar had added red chillies and other spices to the recipes, so that their hareesa was more like haleem.

He said the original recipe only called for black pepper, and that too in accordance with the diner's preference.

'We usually garnish the dish with fried onions and spinach,' he said.

Mr Asam said they also serve haleem but most diners came to the restaurant for hareesa.

'I believe in honesty and use fresh ingredients and clean utensils when cooking,' he said.

Hareesa is traditionally a winter dish, he said, as the temperature remains low in the Kashmir valley and the mornings are particularly cold.

'People want to have some warm food before they go out in the morning,' he said.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 29, 2018
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