Andhra Pradesh

Continental cuisine expert brings home ‘Haleem’ ahead of Ramzan

Marasani Mahesh Babu, chef de partie on Princess Cruiseliner, cooking haleem at Damalcheruvu in Chittoor district.

Marasani Mahesh Babu, chef de partie on Princess Cruiseliner, cooking haleem at Damalcheruvu in Chittoor district.  

Mahesh, who works on a cruise liner, is stuck in Chittoor owing to lockdown

He may be a trained hand in Continental dishes, but the ‘Haleem’ he prepares on Ramzan-eve is titillating the local taste buds. For the first time, the rural pocket of Damalcheruvu having a sizeable Muslim population got the rare opportunity to savour the coveted delicacy.

Marasani Mahesh Babu, a native of Manginayanipalle near Damalcheruvu town of Chittoor district, works as ‘Chef de partie’ on Princess Cruise liner that travels from America to Asia via Europe. He came home on a holiday in March and had to stay back due to the lockdown. Finding an ‘opportunity in adversity’, he started preparing the famous recipe, which became an instant hit in the vicinity.

As a primary school boy, Mr. Mahesh mistook a local pond for sea, but was awestruck when his father took him to Puducherry to show the ‘real’ sea, which developed interest in him on seafaring. His tryst with the frying pan and ladle started a few years later when he served breakfast for his father working as a desk journalist and mother employed as a hotel housekeeping supervisor.

He finished hotel management course, worked in two star hotels in Hyderabad, Palm Atlantis and The Marriot in Dubai before joining the cruiseliner. “It all started when I cooked Haleem as a surprise Iftar gift to my childhood friend Imran. The delicacy gained acceptance in nearby towns”, Mr. Mahesh told The Hindu. Though he first started making Haleem during college days, he is now more into European dishes like grilled meat, pasta, soups and sea foods.

People from Pakala, Penumur, Piler, Patoor and Irala, located within 25 km from his town, are vying to get the pack. “The dish is quite authentic and tastes amazing”, says Sai Kumar Reddy of Rompicherla, who purchased eight packets to gift his friends. “The pricing is reasonable at ₹100 for a 250 gm pack”, adds Lakshman Rao, who travelled all the way from Tirupati to buy the delicacy.

Though Mahesh could cook Haleem in chicken, mutton, beef and vegetarian versions, he confined to chicken in view of the affordability in the predominantly rural market. There are phone orders from places as far away as Chittoor and Madanapalle, but the absence of transport due to lockdown is a stumbling block.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 1:46:13 PM |

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