Living Vizag Food

Know why this haleem stall is a favourite in Visakhapatnam

Sheikh Zuber and ‘master’ Rasool Bhai describe the Ramzan-special haleem they cook that has earned them considerable fame

Through the cacophony of Jagadamba Junction one can still hear the call to prayers from the Macca Masjid. I am standing at the ‘Dil Se Hyderabadi Haleem’ stall where Sheikh Zuber and Rasool Bhai with two big wooden ladles stir something aromatic in the two huge cauldrons. It’s the holy month of Ramzan and in less than an hour’s time this stall will be teeming with people, waiting to be served one of the the most sought after haleems in the city.

Know why this haleem stall is a favourite in Visakhapatnam

In the 10 years it has been here, the demand for haleem has only gone up, says stall owner Sheikh Zuber. “We make haleem with 25 kilograms of mutton and 70 kilograms of chicken every day,” he says as he prepares to ladle the creamy haleem from the cauldron into small aluminium containers.

The process of making this Ramzan special dish is laborious and time-consuming. It requires physical strength and an ability to tolerate the fiery heat generated by the cooking food.

Know why this haleem stall is a favourite in Visakhapatnam

When Sheikh first set up his stall, it was not even half the size of what it is today. He says, when he started, all he wanted was to bring the flavour of the authentic Hyderabadi haleem to Visakhapatnam. In the initial four years, he offered just chicken haleem as it was more economical. “I hardly used more than 20 kilograms of chicken every day. At that time the city had just about a handful of haleem stalls. But over the years more stalls came up,” he says. Today, the bylanes around Jagadamba Junction have a festive feel during Ramzan and the celebrations are centred around this delicacy.

Sheikh attributes the magic of his haleem to haleem master Rasool Bhai who always “wields his magic”. Growing up in Hyderabad, Rasool learnt to perfect this dish from an early age. Even after three decades of experience he is never complacent. His job begins at midnight once the cauldrons are cleaned and prepared for the 28-hour cooking process. Assisting him are two other junior haleem masters and a team of workers who work through the night.

Mutton and chicken, sourced from local vendors, are put to boil with the potli masala in the cauldrons. “The secret to the best haleem flavour is trapped in this masala,” shares Rasool. Each haleem master has a potli masala, which includes cardamom, black pepper, shah jeera, rose buds and other ingredients.

Best flavours in town
  • Dil Se Hyderabadi Haleem - Jagadamba Junction
  • Nawabi Haleem - In front of Macca Masjid and Siripuram (opp. HSBC)
  • Nizam’s Kitchen Haleem - Jagadamba Junction
  • Ramzan Specialities - Hotel Green Park

The meat is boiled for about 24 hours and then put on ‘dum’ for a couple of hours. This is accompanied by periodic rounds of breaking up the meat with the wooden ladles. Sheikh and Rasool keep a watchful eye on it and even take turns with the ladles. Once the creamy meat is ready, it is served with a garnish of caramelised onions and cashews. “It is worth all the hard work when we see the satisfied smile on our customer’s face,” says Sheikh. His stall draws people not just from across the city, but even from neighbouring districts. Krishna Chaitanya, an engineering graduate who is a regular at Sheikh’s stall describes it as a “rich and deliciously spicy dish that makes it a great evening snack.” The haleem is served from 4 pm onwards and on most days it is sold out by 7 pm.

Sheikh also serves paya roti in his month-long Ramzan menu and kaddu ka kheer.

(Living Vizag is a weekly column that profiles people who make the city special, and explore it through their eyes.)

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:46:41 AM |

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