Haleem – the beloved meat dish in my home. One of the go-to foods for my family, Haleem is essentially a stew. When my mother first came to the United States, my dad was still struggling; working as a dishwasher at a restaurant, he didn’t have much money. He lived with 5 of his friends when he lived in the states alone, but after bringing his wife and my older brother over from Bangladesh, he knew that the budget for groceries would be even tighter. My mom still tells me how they sometimes didn’t have enough money to afford rice or “parata” (hand made flatbread). Most of the food in the house consisted of meat -- since that was cheaper when bought in bulk --, lentils, and some vegetables. My mom, wanting to be able to have some food ready for my dad after coming home late nights, usually ended up making haleem with beef and lentils. She borrowed some of the spices she needed from our neighbor, and made the same dish night after night. She made do with what she had, and my mom tells me how she wishes she could’ve done more. My dad, on the other hand, tells me that he always ate the food lovingly just because he was glad that he wasn’t alone in a different country anymore – now he had his family with him. Now we’re in a much better place financially and we don’t need to eat haleem all the time, but still on rainy days, my dad asks my mom if she could make him some. She just smiles and takes the meat out of the freezer, ready to travel back in time with her husband.
– Farib Khan