Food Lovers Look Forward to the Haleem Season during Ramzan

Ramzan is the month of prayers and fasting for the devout Muslims, but the food lovers in the city look forward to a special delicacy which is best relished during this period. Haleem, the wheat and pounded meat preparation rich in ghee as well as select spices and lentils are typically consumed in the evening, breaking the day-long fast after Iftar prayers.  A complete food, it helps to gain strength and energy after a long period of fasting. The dish has its origin in Central Asia. In Ain-I-Akbari, Abul Fazal mentions about the dish being served in Emperor Akbar’s court. Haleem came to Hyderabad with the Yemeni soldiers in the Nizam’s army and has over the years become one of the most popular dishes from the Hyderabadi cuisine.

Cafe 555

Haleem is reputed to taste the best during the Holy month of Ramzan. During this period, this delicacy is available at every nook and corner, and well-known Hyderabadi food outlets set up special counters which are thronged in the evening by large crowds from all communities to get their favourite bowl of haleem.  Much before the start of Ramzan, you see haleem bhattis made of brick and mud being set up near cafes and restaurants. Over the whole month, food lovers sample haleem from up to a dozen different places and compare their taste in animated social media discussions. The wheat and meat ratio, smoothness of taste, number of bones in a plate and the amount of ghee and type of spices are all parameters on which a particular haleem is judged.

Pista House

A trend that has started in the last few years have select well-known Irani outlets starting their haleem sale a fortnight before the start of Ramzan. Café Bahar (Read Here) at Basheerbagh and Café 555 (Read Here) at Masab Tank has started serving haleem right from the middle of the Islamic month of Shaban.  Though a few thousand outlets in Hyderabad sell haleem during Ramzan, only a few places are crowd pullers from all over the city. The top brand for this delicacy, Pista House (Read Here) has an arrangement with a leading courier company to deliver haleem to major cities in India. Shah Ghouse (Read Here), Paradise (Read Here), Sarvi (Read Here), and Shadab (Read Here) are some others who are known for their preparations.  Mutton Haleem is generally preferred by traditional connoisseurs, though the chicken and beef variants have their fans too. Some places experiment with fish and even vegetarian versions of the dish.

Green Park Hotel
Grill 9

Differentiation is made on other parameters too. Green Park Hotel (Read Here) , Zaiqa-E-Hyderabad, and The Park Hyderabad are traditionally known for their boneless mutton haleem. Café 555 is fancied for its variations such as special haleem with chicken 65 and zaban, or goat tongue in it.  Pakwaan Grand near Raidurgam prides itself for its Mashad Haleem, which is a version from Iran laden with dry fruits and cream.  SodaBottleOpenerwala offers a Persian variety of haleem during the season, apart from their Special Mutton Haleem topped with Talawa Gosht. Grill 9 near Trimulgherry is another favoured destination for its haleem which has nalli, and patthar ka gosht in it. If you want to try the offbeat Fish Haleem, head to Ocean’s Basket in Banjara Hills. While the focus of most haleem makers is taste, some even work towards a healthier option, with lesser ghee and masala.

Ocean's Basket

A recent trend is to try out the haleem offered by some of the reputed home chefs of Hyderabad. Zarina Sha, Naaz Anjum, and Sara Ansari are some of names in this segment whose haleem is in great demand. For vegetarian haleem, you can turn to Dinesh Purushottam.

Sara Ansari's Kitchen

A general consensus is that the taste of haleem from the outlets is at its best around a week after the start of the month, as these places stabilize on their preparation process by that time. As Eid approaches, there is a tendency that the amount of wheat and bones go up compared to the meat, especially in smaller outlets who try to make a quick buck at the end.

Note: This is an updated version of the article originally published in New Indian Express Hyderabad on 12th June 2018.

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