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Hyderabad’s ‘haleem’ a favourite during Ramadan


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.

Over the decades, the syrupy dish was Indianised with the addition of local spices, dry fruit, clarified butter or “desi ghee” and the unique style of cooking.

From star hotels and popular food joints to small eateries, almost everyone prepares haleem, which is preferred for breaking the fast due to its energising nature, high nutritional value and soothing porridge-like texture.

Cooks say the extensive preparation that goes into making of the delicacy starts early in the morning. After meat mixed with chillis, garlic, and ginger is tenderised by cooking, wheat is added, followed by lentils, spices like cardamom and cumin, cashew nuts, almonds, cooking oil, desi ghee and other ingredients.

As the “Iftar” time approaches, dozens of workers start packing or serving piping hot haleem garnished with special spicy “shorba” or meat broth, caramalised onions, coriander, and slices of lemon.

While haleem was originally made with mutton or beef, it’s now available in other variants — chicken, fish, and even vegetarian.

From old hotels like Madina in the old city to Sarvi, Paradise, Shah Ghouse, all claim to have their own unique taste.

Hyderabad residents say the credit for reviving the popularity of haleem goes to Pista House, a bakery which made a modest beginning in the mid-90s. With aggressive and innovative marketing, it became the biggest maker of haleem in the city. The brand has since gone global with outlets in the United States, Oman and Dubai.

In 2010, it succeeded in getting Geographical Indication Status (GIS) for Hyderabadi haleem, making it the only non-vegetarian Indian dish to get this recognition.

Priced at Rs 160 per plate (300 gram), Pista House’s haleem this Ramadan is available at over 225 outlets across Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Vijayawada, and Kadapa, besides all major towns in Telangana.

Pista House, which also offers an innovative “diet haleem” and “organic haleem”, was this month invited by the European Union Intellectual Property Office to showcase Hyderabadi haleem at the Thailand Food Exhibition ‘THAIFEX 2017’ in Bangkok.

“It is a rare honour and great recognition for us,” Pista House owner M.A. Majeed said.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Go Gaga Over Haleem


  Set in the midst of southern part of India, Nawabi City Hyderabad is not only famous for yummy biryani, Irani chai and pearls but even for its uncompromisingly delicious Haleem. Available only for forty days, in Ramzan season, Haleem is an important dish that paved way into the hearts of hardcore Hyderabadis.

A general walk in the bustling streets of Hyderabad in the evening hours will introduce you to small illuminated tents erected on big ovens. Usually found in every nook and corner of the city, these are places where you get the yummy Haleem.

If you are wondering what Haleem is all about, then let us tell you that it’s a non-vegetarian Hyderabadi dish  prepared with chicken/mutton, wheat flour and lentils. The crushed meat is put into the oven and cooked for nearly ten hours while adding up the spices and flour. Haleem specialists beat this dish with logs while its under preparation to ensure that the meat is mixed with flour and mentils. After properly cooked, it becomes a porridge. Fried onions and shorba (thick soup) are added to make the dish even more tastier. 

How did Haleem enter Hyderabad?

The origin of Haleem came from the term Harissa. The latter is a middle-eastern dish that was apparently a favourite dish of Prophet Mohammed. Harees (Harissa) and Haleem are more or less similar just that extra pinch of masalas and lentils go into Haleem to make it distinct.

When Bahamanis (Qutub Shahis) invaded Golconda and defeated Kakatiyas in 11th century, they constructed a fortified wall around Golconda Fort and made Hyderabad (Chechalam then) their home. It was then, they brought along n number of delicacies with them out of which Irani Tea and Haleem are quintessential habits they introduced to this part of India.

After the fall of Bahamanis, Asaf Jahis (Nizams) ruled Hyderabad. Haleem was made popular by Nizams, especially during the seventh and last Nizam—Osman Ali Khan’s regime.


While meat itself is considered to be a healthy dish with sufficient proteins in it, when it’s mixed with ground wheat and cooked with lentils and masalas for nearly ten hours—the amount of proteins that will go into this dish is unimaginable. It’s predominantly cooked during fasting season so that people who fast in the day time can boost their adrenaline levels. 

Ideal places in Hyderabad:

Given the popularity of Haleem, which is fast catching up amongst people of all ages and regions, all top notch restaurants serve Haleem.

However, there are some unique places where you pamper your taste buds without hurting your pockets. 

Shadab Hotel, near Charminar

Madina Hotel, Charminar

Pista House, Charming

Bahar Cafe, Basheerbagh

Niagara Hotel, Malakpet

Y2K Restaurant, Punjagutta

Shah, Moosarambagh

Sarvi, Banjarahills

Rumaan, Tolichowki

Shah House, Shalibanda

Paradise, Secunderabad

Deccan Emu Haleem, Golconda

Fish Haleem-Saleem Function Hall, Lakdikapool

Apart from these Haleem specialists, hundreds of outlets popped up everywhere in the city do serve this chicken porridge. While a single serving will cost you around hundred bucks, you can get a family pack for Rs. 500.

So, don’t miss Haleem when you happen to visit Hyderabad during Ramzan because it’s said ‘your trip to Hyderabad is incomplete without tasting Haleem!’

(Phani B)

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.



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