Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2016-06-29 14:22 Hyderabadis wait for Ramzan for two reasons. One is for the unmatchable shopping experience near old city and another is for the mouth-watering Haleem. Charminar and surrounding areas stop sleeping as the holy month commences and the shopping frenzy starts. And these outings are incomplete without tasting Hyderabad’s unique Haleem. Yes, Ramzan is the time when one is supposed to try get away from worldly desires, show restraint, and lean towards spirituality. But you can’t beat the festive mood during Ramzan and thus end up shopping, eating, and celebrating. Haleem is the only non-vegetarian dish in India with GIS (Geographical indication Status) thereby becoming one of Telangana’s prized possessions. This means that Hyderabadi Haleem should be prepared only in Hyderabad following prescribed standards. Interestingly, the dish which originated in the Middle East has become so Hyderabadi that it is now being exported to its birth place as Hyderabadi Haleem. Haleem, a dish which looks as simple as a khichdi, is a pasty mixture of wheat and meat with lots of ghee. It is famously known for its 3Gs: gosht (mutton), gehoon (wheat), and ghee. Along with the 3, lots of spices and dry fruits make it a rich food. The dish may look simple, but the process is not. Haleem is prepared in specially built big brick and mud kilns (bhatti) and slow-cooked using firewood. The dish needs to be stirred continuously using wooden paddles. It is a slowly cooked delicacy with a preparation time of up to 12 hours. Almost every street in Hyderabad has these kinds of thousands of bhattis erected during Ramzan time. Haleem is believed to be introduced to Hyderabad during Asif Jahi rulers; and this Arabic dish became very popular during the rule of 7th Nizam of Hyderabad Mir Osman Ali Khan. It took many forms by adding local flavors and finally became Hyderabad’s coveted dish. Initially haleem was popularly served during wedding and other celebrations. Later, because of the dish’s high calories and its ability to give instant energy haleem became famous as Iftaar food, eaten to break the fast during Ramzan. So in order to get the dish ready by evening, cooks start the painstaking process by 3am. Hyderabadi Haleem is not restricted to treat the tastebuds of Hyderabadis. It travels beyond city, state, and even country. Hyderabadi Haleem is in huge demand in cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai. So famous haleem makers of Hyderabad have started to set up temporary kitchens in these cities and cook haleem locally and serve in many outlets during Ramzan. Canned haleem gets exported to more than 50 countries including US, Europe, Canada and Gulf, thus making it a global delicacy. Haleem preparation and selling has grown into an Rs100 crore business now, with a major part of the business being done during Ramzan. During Ramzan, more than 6,000 haleem makers and vendors sprout in Hyderabad, giving direct employment to nearly 30,000 people. The famous Pista House of Hyderabad, which claims to be the largest haleem exporter in the world, has become synonymous with haleem and was responsible for Hyderabadi Haleem’s GI status. Though the main branch of Pista house is in Charminar, it has opened 200 dine in and take away outlets in the city for the Ramzan season. They have localised the preparation and have opened outlets in Bengaluru and Chennai. They also deliver their fresh branded Haleem in almost all major cities of the India. Pista House sells more than 10 tonnes of Haleem during Ramzan. You can buy their Haleem online and get it home delivered. Though originally made using mutton, haleem now has many varients. You get Chicken haleem, vegetarian haleem, sweet haleem and diet Haleem as well. This year Pista House introduced organic Haleem as well. If you want to be part of this ‘Haleemmania’, then Ramzan is the best time to visit Hyderabad.