Hyderabad: The haleem capital of India, especially during the month of Ramadan, has been deprived of its culinary and festive sheen during this year’s festive month due to the COVID pandemic. Yet, the plight of Hyderabadis who devour the dish at small outlets and big chains pale in comparison to those whose livelihoods have been robbed by the resulting lockdown. The fact that people are not flocking to crowd haleem stands and shops — as is the ritual during the month — due to social distancing norms affecting those who are in the business of making this delicacy.
The rush towards the haleem bhattis (Ovens) and the hotels is nowhere to be seen this year.
“This year having haleem is surely not possible, for the precautionary measures the lockdown continues throughout the month and having one of the special dishes of Ramadan will be missed,” said Shaik Majid.
He also adds that while the dish is available during the Muslim marriages and functions, the sheer delight of the auspicious holy month lends a special taste to it.
Losses incurred during for haleem businesses, especially for small haleem bhattis
The seasonal demand for haleem has helped this business blossom into a multi-crore enterprise during Ramadan. As the season approaches, around 2,000 restaurants and hotels across began preparations for the cooking and selling of different types of varieties. Every road and by lane across different areas would be bestrewn with haleem bhattis, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has rendered them non-existent.
This small haleem maker sells the delicacy sells beef haleem at for Rs. 30, Rs.50, and Rs. 80 whereas the mutton one is pricier at Rs. 100 and Rs. 120.
According to many of those would run these enterprises, they wait for a long 11 months to earn some good money during Ramadan. However, due to this crisis they are resorting to other means of income to make ends meet.
One haleem bhatti owner laments, “We are experts in preparing haleem and this provides us with the soles means of income during Ramadan. Despite the stiff competition and struggle among small Bhatti makers, we still earn enough money. This year, we are selling vegetables due to this dilemma.”
Unlike today, in previous Ramadan seasons they sold around 300-400 plates a day.
Hundreds of people also find full-time of part-time employment for a month via this annual seasonal industry. They too have switched to other alternative lines of works and trades that are permitted during lockdown. Some even remain idle at home.
Many streetside merchants also sold snacks like mirchi, bhaaji, dahi-wada are in the same boat as haleem sellers. Mohammed Aslam, who would have been running his snack stall during Ramadan through which he used to sell different vegetarian and non-vegetarian snacks for a month, mentions “My snacks used be sold be sold out before iftar and then I sold Gahwah to earn some money.”
“But not this year,” he categorically states.
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