Food

Simmering summer

M. Anwar working on a ghotni, a wooden hand masher used to muddle meatand wheat while cooking haleem until it becomes a thick paste. Photo: G Ramakrishna

M. Anwar working on a ghotni, a wooden hand masher used to muddle meatand wheat while cooking haleem until it becomes a thick paste. Photo: G Ramakrishna   | Photo Credit: G_RAMAKRISHNA

The past month provided RAHUL VERMA some great opportunities to savour haleem

It’s been a good month. For, despite all the blues of infections and other such petty grievances, I have had my share of haleem this season. That doesn’t mean that I’d say no to a plate of freshly cooked haleem, topped with slivers of ginger, chopped green chillies and fried onions. But for the time being, my haleem hunger has been sated.

Since Eid was in the air, I was going here and there in search of good Muslim food. Readers may remember my sojourn in Zakir Nagar, from where I returned with a bag full of goodies, including some delicious haleem from a restaurant called Purani Dilli. Then, soon thereafter, I ordered three tubs of haleem from a well-know haleem maker in Hyderabad called the Pista House.

Haleem is not an easy dish to cook. For several hours — often seven or eight hours — you have to simmer a broth of cracked wheat, meat and sometimes lentils together with a combination of spices, mixing it every now and then with a big ladle. The haleem that I got from Purani Dilli had been mixed beautifully, and was spicier than the Pista House one, which was delicious in its own way.

I had ordered online from Pista House (pistahouse.in). I am told that haleem lovers from across the world order the dish during Ramzan from Pista House. Incidentally they have the geographical indication for Hyderabad haleem. My friend Srini, who lived in the city for a while ostensibly for work, but actually for its haleem, says that the dish is cooked in industrial quantities during Ramzan. The ladle used to mix the haleem is as big as an oar, he says. Apparently, the chief cook who is brought in only for the season is paid an astronomical amount running into several lakhs of rupees.

Hyderabadi haleem is different from the Delhi haleem. The consistency of the former is thicker, and the taste is milder. In Delhi, the haleem differs from place to place. I love the gooey haleem that you get at Bundu’s in Gali Kababiyan, which is the lane that houses Karim’s. The haleem at Shakir Bhai’s — at the corner of Churiwallan and Matia Mahal in Old Delhi — has little pieces of meat in the gruel, which adds to the taste. My friends from Calcutta tell me that the city’s haleem is also a bit like that.

Another place which has been doing excellent haleem is Varun Tuli’s catering outfit, Food, Inc. Tuli’s haleem — a delectable creamy concoction with just the right spices — costs substantially more than the other haleems in the city. But then it’s a high-end place.

The Pista House haleem is for Rs.575 a kilo for those ordering from Delhi. It comes well packed in a sealed aluminium packet inside a sealed plastic tub. They promise to deliver within a day. I got mine late at night, and had it the next day. I enjoyed it immensely, especially after I had squeezed a piece of lime over it. But I still think I prefer the Delhi haleem, which is a bit more runny and, as I said, spicy.

All in all, it’s been a good haleem season. And now for some ghewar.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 5:36:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/simmering-summer/article5012738.ece

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