iconic restaurant Food

Haleem is in the house

Haleem at Pista House. Photo: K.V.S. Giri

Haleem at Pista House. Photo: K.V.S. Giri   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

Think of the iftar dish and Pista House is the go-to place when in Hyderabad

Mohammed Abdul Majeed, owner of Pista House which is popular for its 'haleem' with his sons Mohammed Abdul Mohsi and Mohammed Mohdis Ali,

Mohammed Abdul Majeed, owner of Pista House which is popular for its 'haleem' with his sons Mohammed Abdul Mohsi and Mohammed Mohdis Ali,   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

It is 8 am and workers are busy cleaning the mess in front of Pista House, a few kilometres ahead of Shah Ali Banda in Hyderabad. The clean-up is from the previous night, when men, women and children came in huge numbers to relish the haleem—a common thing at Pista House every year during the month of Ramzan.

The two-storeyed building in Old City is now a landmark. With LED lights fitted to it, at night, no one can miss Pista House even if they want to.

The men of the Mohammed family are battling sleep but making sure nothing comes in the way of their quality and taste. So come rain or hail, MA Majeed, the owner of Pista House, reaches the spot which they call central kitchen at 5 am. He is a control freak when it comes to offering haleem during Ramzan.

For the others in the family, their day begins late, but they say they also end their day very late. They reach home towards early morning after wrapping up business and coordinating a few things for the next day.

A festive favourite

No one knows when, but Ramzan became synonymous with haleem and haleem became synonymous with Pista House.

But the story of Pista House doesn’t date back to the Nizam period. Surprisingly, Majeed started the joint only recently, and within a span of 10 years since its inception, he was selling more plates than he could count.

“This was a sweet shop when I opened. I slowly started making haleem as an experiment. The secret recipe is from our family. I call it secret, because that is how Pista House’s haleem stands out from the rest,” he boasts.

In the first year (1994), Majeed said he sold 100 plates. “I wasn’t disheartened. I made up my mind to improve my product and get people hooked on to this,” he laughs.

Majeed credits the taste, smell and feel of the food to the recipe which has come from his forefathers. “This is what we always used to eat at home during Ramzan.

But commercially, this was not on the menu. As food, it is highly nutritious and is a must for youngsters.”

An inherited taste

The reason Majeed was sure of the taste is because he claims his forefathers interacted with the Nizams and also dined together with them. And from the conversations of his family elders, he remembers, “Haleem from our house was loved by all.” So what makes this haleem so different? “A formula that is different from others, it’s unique. And don’t imagine that the women of our house have nothing to do with it. They are equally responsible for helping us get this product together. Right now, at home, they aren’t relaxing. They are putting their concoction of spices together for different outlets. The women put the spices together, pack it and send it to various outlets,” says Majeed.

All in the spice

The multi-floored eatery is also famous for its biryani, kebabs and sweets. Does he have any idea how many plates of haleem he sells in a day?

“I don’t think I know that much mathematics. Maybe if you see the bhattis where the haleem is made, you can make a calculation. As far as the meat is concerned, I buy it in several quintals. We do not buy uncertified meat. That means I have to ensure that the meat is stamped. My men take a few hours to cut, clean and segregate the meat,” says Majeed, who was initially in the textile industry.

Since it is not possible for everyone to come to Old City, Pista House has now opened branches in various parts of the city. Their branch in Kondapur is in a sprawling area and spread across three floors.

For those who don’t care much for haleem, Majeed advises them to go to the Kondapur branch and relish the kebabs and biryani. The other famous offering from Pista House is the aflatoon.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 1:58:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/haleem-is-in-the-house/article19055122.ece

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