Hyderabad: After the decades in the history of capital city of Haleem, many Hyderabadis thought they would be deprived of the Ramadan delicacy. COVID-19 has played a spoiled sport to the festive Ramadan spirit, and the culinary and economic gloom is palpable. Devoid of the traditional festivities in and around Charminar or anywhere for that matter, social distancing norms rob Hyderabad of the charm that the holy month brings to the city. Be it some established restaurants or the homes, both new hotbeds of haleem have emerged to fulfill everyone’s gastronomic needs.
Whenever one thinks of Haleem Pista House, Shah Ghouse Café 555, Sarvi Haleem readily comes to mind of many city foodies. While the big players are nowhere to be seen, the market is now an open field for home chefs and online cooking schools of sorts to cater to haleem-starved Hyderabadis. Moreover, many lanes and by lanes bestrewn with stalls and folding tables with packed homemade Haleem sold between Rs. 60 to Rs. 100 in the city.Many Haleem recipe videos are going viral this Ramadan. The love and yearning for the dish has turned many into Haleem chefs.
Nazeema, a Doctor who lives in a join family, says “I have 18 members and all of us love Haleem to the fullest and being home-ridden during a time where our beloved dish is not available, I take on the mantle of the chef.”
Similarly, cloud kitchens like Khatija Seema’s Our Food Factor — known for its Hyderabadi delicacies like biriyani, haleem, double ka meeta and sheer khorma — are also making a killing.
Her techie son Mujtaba Irfan, who also helps out with operations says, “We are getting quite a few haleem orders this year, compared to previous years, though we never focused on haleem during Ramzan in earlier years.”
Being a smaller unit they are not being in competition with the bigger haleem makers.
Entering the new market
Arijit Yadav, techie turned foodpreneur, runs his cloud kitchen from a 400-square yards space in High-Tech City.
His friends demanded that he start making haleem instead of the North Indian fare that his flagship brand, Dilli 6, is known for.
Since he already had a Hyderabadi chef on his rolls, from the Old City — who worked in bigger food establishments, has made haleem, huge haleem cauldrons. These are traditionally fired by wood but in this case they are placed on a gas stove and then cooked on a slow fire. For a few hours, the stew is beaten around with long wooden sticks by at least two persons.
“There are no delivery partners like Swiggy, Zomato or Dunzo (which is only being used for essentials) operating in Hyderabad at the moment. So I am personally delivering the items in most cases,” says Yadav.
Of course, he is doing so while respecting curfew timings and the three kilometer radius delivery limit.
“Whe policing becomes an issue, my clients have no problems collecting the haleem at a point equidistant for both of us” shares Arijit.
He has sold close to a hundred kilos of mutton haleem and fewer quantities of biryani. “Food costs are also up, so we are left with no option other than pricing the haleem at a higher, thanks to infrastructural constraints, such as delivery costs and the inconveniences involved,’’ he adds.
Although cloud kitchen people are not exactly in competition but their competitors would be seen in a lot of nooks and corners of the city had it not been for the lockdown.
Despite that, he is selling 40-45 KGs of mutton haleem daily.
But the huge quantities that people used to merrily consume and will have to wait till next year.