The Special Ingredient Is Patience
“As Ramzan month nears, my children start demanding Haleem,” says Indu Shridhar, a homemaker. During this one month, people head to the restaurants and street vendors around the city to satisfy cravings for this special dish.
An Arabic delicacy, popularised and tailored to the Indian palate by the people of Hyderabad, Haleem is now popular in Bangalore too.
Taste of Hyderabad
Shahid who runs Hotel Fanoos at Johnson Market says, “Haleem is not new to us as our mother is from Hyderabad. In 2000, we decided to serve it at our hotel too.”
Syed Kazim, lecturer at Kristu Jayanti College, says, “Living in Bangalore, I did not know about Haleem until I was introduced to it by a friend whose mother is Hyderabadi.”
Haleem is prepared from wheat, meat and around 30 different kinds of spices. This dish of porridge consistency is served with crisp fried onions and a dash of lemon juice. But, says Shaikh Ayyub, a cook at Fanoos, the key ingredient in the dish is “patience”.
According to Abdus Samad, a student of Arabic studies, this makes the dish stay true to its name. “The word Haleem means highest patience combined with wisdom and forgiveness,” he explains.
It needs eight to 12 hours to cook, and involves constant stirring to achieve its pasty consistency.
Supriya and Murali who prepare Haleem at Dakhani Degh in Tilaknagar say, “Haleem digests slowly too.”
It is supposed to be savoured at the end of a day of fasting. As it is not wise to break a fast with food that digests quickly, releasing too much sugar into the bloodstream in limited time, this dish is considered a good option.
Waqar, who is from Kashmir, believes the Haleem here tastes similar to the Kashmiri variant called Harisa.
But, it is the Hyderabadi variant that has a cult following here. New Hilal restaurant in Shivajinagar sells a Kolkata version of it.
Russell Market and areas around Hajee Sir Ismail Sait mosque on M.M. Road, Fraser Town are popular places to find stores and roadside vendors selling Haleem.