Minced Meat and Lentil Biryani / Keema Masoor Biryani (Memon Masoor Pulao)

2 posts in one week? Whaaaat?

Well, this is my first shot at the Muslim Food Bloggers Challenges. Every month there is a new theme, and the month of February’s was Biryani. Biryani is basically just a spiced rice dish (often times paired with meat). In the South Asian culinary scene, the difference between Biryani and Pulao is that biryani is cooked in layers (the rice is par-boiled and then layered with the meat/masala), whereas in pulao the rice is cooked with the spices in a broth.

I chose to share the recipe for a very traditional Memon (the sub-ethnic group that I hail from) recipe, Masoor Pulao. It’s a bit of a misnomer because although it is called a pulao, it’s actually cooked in layers like biryani.

I’m excited to share this recipe for several reasons, but mostly because (a) I’ve always had trouble taking pictures of traditional Pakistani food, and I’m ready to take the plunge, and (b) it’s a recipe that has been passed down in our family, and I’m happy to finally be sharing it with actual measurements (y’all know how much trouble it is to find a desi recipe using actual measurements and not “a little this, a little that”!)



Keema Masoor Biryani

(Memon Masoor Pulao)

Yield: 4 – 6 Servings


Note: Measurements are in actual measuring spoons/cups and not eating utensils.

  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 2/3 cup brown lentils
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup neutral flavored oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1-2 green chilies, to taste, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppers
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • Handful chopped mint
  • Handful fried onions
  • 3 boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half


Rinse rice in cold water a few times, cover with water, and set aside.

Heat a small saucepan filled with water over medium-high heat. Add lentils and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until mostly cooked through (should not be mushy; there should still be a bit of bite to the lentils, as they will continue cooking with the rice later). Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add meat and ginger-garlic paste and cook for a few minutes. Add chilies, coriander powder, black pepper, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric, salt, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add yogurt, mix well, and cook until mostly dry. Add lentils, mix, cover, and remove from heat. Set aside.

Heat water (enough to boil rice in) in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add black peppers, bay leaves, and salt. Once it comes to a boil, add soaked rice (drain before adding), and cook until about 75% cooked through. Drain and set aside.

In a large vessel, drizzle in a bit of oil. Top with half of the rice, followed by the meat and lentil mixture. Top with cilantro, mint, and fried onions. Cover with remaining rice. Sprinkle on additional fried onions, and gently place the boiled eggs on top. Cover. Cook over low heat until the rice has finished cooking, about 30 minutes.



Check out everyone’s interpretations and adaptations of this month’s challenge below!

Arabic Lentil Soup

I am a total novice when it comes to making soup.  My mom’s post-op recovery was the first time I dabbled in the business of making soup.  Unsurprisingly, my first few attempts were less than stellar…  much less. My mom was such a sweetheart though.  She would never complain about the lack of flavor, or the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.  One day she suggested making a vegetarian soup, and I instantly remembered that Sawsan had recently posted a recipe for Arabic Lentil Soup on her blog.  Not only is her recipe simple (a plus for soup-novices like me), but the simple ingredients cook and simmer to form a light and delectable soup that anyone would be proud of. I’m home now, but I’ve made this soup a handful of times and every time I sip a spoonful I think of my parents and brother.  I miss them a little more with each spoonful of this soup 🙂


Arabic Lentil Soup

Yield:  4 Servings


  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and soaked for 1 hour
  • 2 tablespoons flour (all-purpose or wheat)
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, for garnish
  • Freshly squeezed lemon or lime, for garnish

Directions: In a medium pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat.  Add sliced onion and sauté until soft. Add drained lentils and flour, and stir so that the flour does not retain any clumps.  Add water and stir so that the flour has dissolved.  Allow the water to come to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and allow the soup to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove from heat. Puree the soup until smooth.  Top with remaining olive oil and salt to taste.  Serve with black pepper and lemon (or lime).

South Asian Rice and Lentils/ Khichri

Khichri, a dish consisting of rice and lentils, is the epitome of South Asian comfort meals.  Just like any other comfort meal, Khichri can be prepared in a number of ways.  Some people, like my Mummi, cook it with mung beans and to a mushy consistency, while some people, like my mother in-law, cook it with green mung beans and like a pilaf.  Khichri can be eaten plain, with yogurt and mixed pickles on the side, or with any curry.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that was taught to me by my mother in-law, Ammi.  She is known in her circle of friends for her amazing cooking skills, and I have been very fortunate to have learned a number of things from her.  This recipe is very basic, and can easily be customized to one’s preferences.  Enjoy!





Ammi’s Khichri 

Yield: 2 – 3 Servings 


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ½ cup split mung beans with husk/ green moong daal
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ½ onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 small pieces cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 ¼ cups boiling water


Combine rice and mung beans in a bowl and soak in cold water for at least 2 hours.

In a large vessel, warm oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté until transparent.  Add cumin, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and black cardamoms and cook for a few minutes.  Add ginger-garlic paste and salt and cook until the oil begins to separate, 3 to 5 minutes.  If the mixture is sticking to the pot, add a splash of water.

Drain rice mixture and add it to the simmering spices.  Mix well and add boiling water.  Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes without disturbing the rice.

Remove from heat and allow it to sit undisturbed for an additional 15 minutes.  Stir and serve.


Lentil Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce/ Dahi Baray

Just like Channa Chaat, Dahi Baray are a quintessential snack/appetizer in Pakistani and Indian homes.  Dahi Baray are basically lentil based dumplings that are soaked in a spiced yogurt mixture, and are served cold.  Traditionally, lentils are soaked overnight and then pureed to form a batter the next day.

Me, using traditional methods?  Yeah right!

Why would I use a harder method when an easier one is available?  The lentils used in this recipe, Urad or black gram/matpe beans, can be found in any Indian or Pakistani grocery store in FLOUR FORM!  Therefore, we don’t need to soak n’ grind! (And less dishes to wash 😉 )

Also, this recipe produces a large number of dumplings.  What I like to do is use as many as I need and freeze the remaining.   They frozen dumplings can be quickly thawed in the microwave, and are ready to go when you need them.  I like to make a large batch especially during Ramadan, so iftar, or break-fast time, is easier and faster.

This recipe is also courtesy of my mother in-law, so it’s a guaranteed winner 😉





Dahi Baray

Yield:  Varies


For Lentil Fritters/ Baray:

  • 2 cups black matpe flour/ urad flour
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chilies, grated
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • Oil, for frying

For Yogurt Mixture/ Dahi:

  • 3 parts yogurt
  • 1 part water or milk
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cumin powder, to taste
  • Red chili powder, to taste

For Garnish:

  • Chaat masala
  • Tamarind Chutney
  • Cilantro, chopped, optional
  • Onions, finely diced, optional
  • Garbanzo beans, optional


Make Lentil Fritters/ Baray:

Combine all of the ingredients for the Baray in a large bowl and mix until smooth.  Cover and let it stand for no more than 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat.  To check the temperature of the oil, drop a small amount of batter into the oil.  If the oil starts bubbling and the batter starts making its way upward, the temperature is perfect. Stir the Baray batter, and use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil.  Cook until the Baray are golden on both sides.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined tray.  Cool slightly. (Note:  Once cooled completely, Baray can be frozen at this point.  To use, just microwave however many that are needed until they are no longer frozen, and continue with the remaining directions.)

Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water.  Transfer the Baray to the water and allow them to soak for a few minutes.  Squeeze the water out of the Baray using the palms of both hands, and arrange them in a serving dish.

Make Yogurt Mixture/Dahi:

Depending on how many Baray are being used, combine yogurt and water (or milk) in a large bowl and mix until smooth.  Add sugar, salt cumin powder, and red chili powder as desired and mix well.  Pour over Baray and allow them to soak, refrigerated, for at least one hour before serving.

Serve with garnish.  Refrigerate leftovers.


The weather is getting colder which means ‘tis the season of soups and stews! Haleem is a popular Pakistani/Indian meaty stew, with variants throughout the Middle East and South Asia, and is especially made and served during the cold winter months.  Much like its American counterpart Chili, Haleem is best enjoyed with an assortment of garnishes.  It’s not uncommon to find fried onions, chaat masala, lemon wedges, chopped cilantro, and julienned ginger at a spread where it’s being served.

I used to make Haleem with pre-packaged Shan spices, but to be completely honest, I don’t like using pre-packaged spices.  I did quite a bit of research and finally decided upon adapting Chef Zakir’s recipe (on a side note, this dude is so hardcore! Look at his hat!).  This recipe does require a lot of time, even though there isn’t much work, there is a lot of waiting time.  The pulses need to soak and then be cooked, and the meat needs to be cooked long enough so that it can be easily shredded.  What I like to do is soak the pulses overnight and cook the meat up to the point where all of the spices have been added, then transfer to a slow cooker and let it cook on the lowest setting overnight.  Then in the morning, all I have to do is shred the meat, cook the lentils, and mix everything together, temper, and simmer.  Easy peasy and so dang good! 🙂



Yield:  6-8 Servings


For Haleem:

  • 1 cup broken wheat/ dalia
  • ½ cup split bengal gram/ channa daal
  • ½ cup red lentils/ masoor daal
  • ½ cup skinless black gram/ skinless urud daal
  • ½ cup split mung beans/ moong daal
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup boneless beef, cubed
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 green chilies, halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder

For Tempering:

  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ onion, sliced thinly

For Garnish:

  • Lemon/ Lime, in wedges
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Chaat Masala
  • Ginger, julienned
  • Fried onions


In a large bowl, combine wheat, bengal gram, red lentils, black gram, mung beans, and barley.  Add enough water so that the lentils are completely covered, and allow to soak overnight, or at least a few hours.

Drain the lentils/pulses, transfer to a large pot filled with water, and cook over medium-high heat for 1 ½ hours, or until the mixture has reduced by  half and has thickened significantly.

Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth.

In a separate pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced onions and sauté until golden brown.  Add the beef and ginger-garlic paste and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the tomatoes, green chilies, turmeric, and red chili powder and mix well.  Cook until the tomatoes have lost their shape, about ten minutes.  Add salt, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, and ½ cup water and mix well.  Cook until the oil starts separating from the gravy, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Add about three cups of water, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for a few hours, until the meat is tender and easily shredded. (Note: Meat mixture can be transferred to a slow cooker and cooked on low setting overnight to achieve tenderness.)

Separate the meat from the gravy and shred with a fork.  Using an immersion blender, puree the gravy until smooth.

Add shredded meat and gravy to the pureed pulses.  Cook over medium-low heat until well combined and slightly reduced, about 30 minutes.

In a small fry pan, heat tempering oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced onion and fry until golden brown.  Add onions and oil to haleem, and turn off heat.  Let the haleem sit uninterrupted for half an hour before serving.

Serve with garnish.