Biryani may be Hyderabad’s signature dish, but even the world-famous delicacy takes a back seat during the holy month of Ramadan in favour of haleem, a porridge-like dish made of wheat, lentils and meat.
Such is the preference for haleem during Ramadan that no other dish even comes close in terms of popularity, taste and sale. To just give you an idea, the sale of haleem during Ramadan last year fetched over Rs 500 crore.
Though the mouth-watering dish is a regular on the menu in many Muslim weddings and is also available round the year at a few city hotels, it’s only during the fasting month that it is in great demand.
It’s not just the Muslims but people from other communities as well eagerly await Ramadan to relish their favourite dish.
Young techies can be seen savouring the delicacy at many outlets of major hotels. Thousands of customers throng outlets across the city from around 5 p.m. till well past midnight to taste haleem.
Those travelling abroad or to different destinations within the country don’t forget to pick up a few packets of haleem for their relatives and friends.
‘Bhattis’ or brick-and-mud ovens in front of hotels across Hyderabad are a common sight during the holy month. And so are chefs engaged in the laborious process of making the sumptuous dish in large vessels cemented on the traditional ovens.
They can be seen pounding the meat in vessels with large wooden poles. The entire cooking process, which takes 10 to 12 hours, is done on firewood.
Haleem is originally an Arabic dish, which is said to have come to India via Iran and Afghanistan.
“The Legendary Cuisine of Persia”, a highly acclaimed cookbook, traces the origin of haleem to the 6th century Persian king Khusrow.
A chef from Yemen is said to have first prepared the dish, also called “harees” or “harissa” in Arab countries, for the then Nizam of Hyderabad in 1930. Subsequently, some Irani hotels started selling it here.