Mohammad Rahimi Khosh told ISNA that halim is a stew-like dish, which has been common in the Middle East, especially Iran.
He added, “There are various types of halim, with various ingredients, but the same cooking method is used for preparing all of them.”
“For example, wheat halim is made with peeled and pounded wheat, onions, beef or lamb and oil. Halim’s color can be changed by adding spices such as cinnamon and sugar.”
The expert continued that the cooking time of this dish is very long in such a way that people usually put the pot containing halim on a stove at night, and add water to it several times until early morning. Then they stir the halim with a large paddle to make it soft, consistent and elastic.
Rahimi Khosh noted that although halim is eaten sweet in most parts of Iran, in some cities, including Zanjan, it is consumed with salt. Halim is a special food for the cold months of the year, and it has been customary to cook and consume it in the winter.
He noted that anthropologists and archaeologists examine the evolution of foods to find their roots and reasons for their emergence.
“Although foods like halim are cooked in many parts of the world, their main ingredients are wheat, barley and bran.”
He added that the first grains that were consumed by humans were wild wheat and barley, on which most herbivorous quadrupeds feed.
Rahimi Khosh pointed out that in the beginning, humans ate barley and wheat raw, not ground, but this caused their molar teeth to deteriorate. Therefore, over thousands of years, they realized that these grains should be cooked in boiling water before consumption.
He said after the discovery of fire, humans learned to add other plants and meat to soups made from grains. In order to make them easier to digest, they started to stir them while cooking.
Halim literally means sticky, stretchy, a wheat soup prepared from wheat and chicken or beef.
Persians maintained the sacred aspect of cooking halim but introduced a new dimension to it. Served warm, halim became a breakfast staple in Persian cuisine.
Today, halim shops can be found all over Iran. Those who crave this Persian food for breakfast often purchase it from these establishments. Halim is now available year-round and in various forms.
Halim is a nutrient-dense dish in Persian cuisine, providing a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. The grains and meat offer a substantial amount of protein, while the slow cooking process helps break down the grains, making them easier to digest.
Persian halim is usually served in a bowl and traditionally eaten with a spoon. The dish can be consumed as a hearty breakfast, a warming lunch, or even a satisfying dinner.
Halim is often associated with religious or cultural events and gatherings, such as Ramadan or Muharram, where it is prepared and served to the community. This act of sharing Persian food strengthens social bonds and carries on the historical tradition of “giving out nazri (a Persian tradition in which people cook food and give it to others, including the poor, friends and family).”
Halim is eaten in many other countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey. Additionally, the dish has evolved over time with different versions and variations.