Hyderabad, March 30: After a year's gap, Haleem, a special delicacy made here during Ramadan, is likely to make a comeback during the holy month beginning mid-April.
After completely missing the lip-smacking dish during the fasting month last year due to Covid-19 induced lockdown, citizens can hope to relish the delicacy this Ramadan.
Though a resurge in Covid cases during last few days created some uncertainty, leading Haleem maker Pista House has decided to prepare the dish at its permanent outlets, duly following all Covid regulations prescribed by the authorities.
"We will make Haleem this Ramadan at our outlets by taking all precautions," Pista House Managing Director Abdul Majeed told IANS. Pista House, which claims to be the largest Haleem maker in the world, has 25 outlets in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Abdul Majeed said they would get Covid test conducted on all chefs and workers engaged in preparation and serving of Haleem. "We will make all arrangements for their stay at our premises so that they don't come in contact with others during the period," he said.
The leading food joint is working out details to ensure sale of Haleem as per the guidelines of the government. "We will ensure safe preparation of Haleem, wearing of masks and social distancing during the sale," he said, adding that protecting staff and people will be their priority. Ramadan 2021: 50 People Can Offer Prayers at Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque During Festival, Centre Tells Delhi High Court.
Majeed, who is also the president of Haleem Makers' Association, said the body would meet on April 1 to take a formal decision on sale of Haleem and work out details in tune with the Covid guidelines.
He made it clear that Pista House will not set up temporary branches and outlets like in the past. He feels this is necessary to ensure adherence to the regulations to contain the spread of Covid.
The famous eatery used to open dozens of temporary outlets across the twin cities and the information technology clusters of Hitec City and Gachibowli. With IT companies remaining closed and their employees continued to work from home, Pista House decided to restrict the sale to its permanent outlets.
Techies employed in hundreds of IT companies used to constitute majority of customers every year. Other leading Haleem makers like Shah Ghouse and Sarvi also used to set up special outlets.
This year, Haleem makers also face a challenge with regard to the pricing. The increased prices of mutton and spices have worried them. In 2019, Haleem by leading food joints was sold for Rs.160 per plate (250-300 grams). There are estimated 6,000 Haleem makers in Hyderabad and other cities. Most of them depend on the business during Ramadan.
Popular joints do brisk business during the season with techies, businessmen, families and even tourists relishing the piping hot delicacy at numerous outlets. Pista House's Haleem business was providing direct and indirect employment to 15,000 during Ramadan every year.
"For last 10 years we were encouraging youth to do the business. Four to five students used to come together and take an outlet to sell Haleem every evening. This was helping them to meet their educational expenses," said Majeed.
The food joint, which secured Geographical Indication (GI) status for Hyderabadi Haleem in 2010, has been selling the dish at over 200 outlets. Besides tying up with Swiggy for door delivery in Hyderabad, Pista House also used to join hands with Gati courier for delivery in other metro cities.
Haleem, a stew of meat, lentils and wheat mixed with spices, is preferred for breaking the fast due to its energising nature, high nutritional value and soothing porridge-like texture.
Originally an Arabic dish, it is said to have come here during the Mughal period via Iran and Afghanistan. The syrupy dish was Indianised with the addition of Indian spices, dry fruits, ghee and the unique style of cooking.
''Bhattis'' or brick and mud ovens used to come up in front of almost every hotel and road-side eatery at least a week before the beginning of Ramadan. The dish gained huge popularity over last two decades thanks to Pista House, the brand which has gone global.
At every eatery, one could spot chefs with their assistants mixing the ingredients and pounding the meat in the vessels with large wooden poles. The pounding ensures that the mixture turns into fine paste. It is served after being garnished with special spicy ''shorba'' (meat broth), carmelized onions, coriander and slices of lemon.
Such will be the popularity of Haleem during the holy month that even the world-famous Biryani, the signature dish of Hyderabad, takes a backseat.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 30, 2021 10:48 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).