Haleem: A Hearty Helping Of Hyderabadi Heritage
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AMONG the highlights for foodies in Hyderabad during Ramzan (although it is available year round at some places in the city) is undoubtedly the haleem. Haleem is often the preferred way to break the day-long fast as it is very filling, rich in protein, and easily digestible. Its first recorded appearance in India was in the 16th century, as it was mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari.

Hyderabadi haleem, which has the prized GI tag as its crowning glory, was the first non-vegetarian dish to be given the label. The haleem cooked here needs to adhere to stringent stipulations to qualify as Hyderabadi haleem, which include the time needed to cook the dish, quality of the mutton, and the use of tamarind wood (for a uniform texture) as only a few of those.

Last year, Hyderabadis ordered four lakh servings of this dish on food apps alone, not counting the numerous stalls that spring up across the city. While each person has his or her own addas for haleem, Slurrp rounds up the most popular ones.

Hotel Nayaab, Chatta Bazar: This renowned Hyderabadi haunt is famous for many of its offerings, including Osmania biscuit and biryani, with people queuing up as early as 5 am. The haleem here has a following that is unrivalled, and over the past three decades, they have perfected the art of preparing the Hyderabadi variant that’s a favourite among the denizens of the city. Renowned for its exquisite texture, flavorful spices, and generous meat portions, Nayab’s haleem stands as a testament to their culinary expertise.

Pista House: The late thespian Dilip Kumar used to order from here, and today, with over 25 outlets spread across the city, it is impossible to miss Pista House’s haleem, which is even sent all over India and the Middle East during Ramzan. What makes the dish a specialty here is the rich and succulent meat that is treated with ghee made in-house! Also known for experimenting with their offerings, try their in-house specialty, badami haleem. Fun fact: Pista House is the biggest seller of haleem in Hyderabad, with a master kitchen that can cook up to 2,00,000 bowls each day.

Pakwaan Grand, Gachibowli: One of the few places in the city to serve the renowned Mashhad haleem, Pakwaan Grand's flagship dish is inspired by the flavours of the Mashhad city in Iran. How is it different from the other varieties in town? It is distinguished by its unique recipe featuring hearty mutton chunks, cream, dried fruits — and even Chicken 65! This variant has earned favour among numerous gourmands, particularly within the newer parts of town.

Grill 9, Karkhana: There is haleem, and then there is Baahubali haleem at Grill 9. Started in 2017 after the movie’s success, it packs quite a punch with its offering that includes chicken kebab and bone marrow, whilst being topped with another of Hyderabad’s favourites, patthar ka gosht. They also make a regular haleem, which is a hit as they use “poatle ka gosht” (male goat meat) to achieve a rich pinkish colour and flavour. Another fun fact: Actor Prabhas is, unsurprisingly, a fan of the Baahubali haleem!

Lucky Restaurant, Santosh Nagar: An Irani restaurant tucked away in the alleys of the older part of the city, Lucky draws dedicated haleem lovers during Ramzan. Prepared flawlessly and adorned with finely chopped coriander, crispy fried onions, and a squeeze of lemon, Lucky’s dish is guaranteed to immerse you in pure culinary bliss.

Biryaniwalla & Co, Banjara Hills: Popular with office-goers looking to sample haleem after a day’s work (given its location), the version here is filled with an abundance of dry fruits, tender chunks of mutton, and a perfectly boiled egg. The harmonious blend of flavours and its comforting, homely taste have garnered it a dedicated following.

Hotel Rumaan, Charminar, and Tolichowki: Iconic and boasting a steadfast clientele, this is one of the most favoured destinations in the city for its haleem. The price here is more reasonable than in other places, as you have a choice of different meats. What makes the haleem here a superstar is its consistency; with its robust flavour and just enough ghee, it hits all the right spots.

Mom’s Homemade Food by Zarina Sha: Zarina Sha’s haleem harks to a time when this dish was made at home by members of the family in large deghs.  While every nukkad and street corner in Hyderabad boasts stalls of this ubiquitous Ramzan dish, at Sha’s it is elevated to an art form with its richness, consistency, and flavour. Sha even had a stall at the Hyderabad Literary Festival, which had booklovers turning into gourmands thanks to her delectable dishes. A true culinary star whose fame spread only by word-of-mouth, the haleem here is excellent and redolent of your grandmother’s haath ka khaana!

GreenPark: For those who like to eat their haleem with a star hotel ka tadka, GreenPark is the place to be. Their slow-cooked mutton haleem brings together myriad delicious flavours. With fried cashews and rogan, this haleem is creamy and ghee-loaded. Ideal for those impromptu midnight plans with friends! P.S. The place is a hit with Tollywood stars too, post-midnight!

Shah Gouse: With multiple branches across the city (Tolichowki, Shalibanda and Raidurgam), it is impossible to miss Shah Gouse’s haleem during Ramzan. A perfect combination of crunch and tenderness, the well-cooked meat, the subtle spices, crispy fried onions, and cashew nuts make this manna indeed!