Hyderabad is a beautiful old city that's known for its rich cultural heritage, delicious local food, and lively and friendly populace. We were lucky to have the opportunity to explore the culinary scene of this vibrant city during Ramzan when surprisingly the city’s signature dish Biryani makes way for Haleem, delectable wheat, lentils, and meat dishes that the Hyderabadis look forward to in this holy month of fasting. This high-calorie dish is usually had during Iftar because it provides instant energy and nourishment. So in this episode of our gastronomic tour, we have set on to celebrate this labour of love along with our graceful host Sankalp Vishnu, a renowned food critic, and also with the enthusiastic locals.
We tried the dish at two popular outlets in the city-the Lucky Restaurant and Pista House. The fact that each place serving this meaty wonder has its own distinct approach towards its preparation was evident from the noticeable variation in the taste and texture that we registered while trying it at these two places. Primarily it's the difference in the ratio of ingredients that results in such delicious variations. We must agree that both the options were distinctively tasty.
At Lucky restaurant, Sankalp informed us about the background and characteristics of a traditional haleem, over a warm plate of this gooey wonder. He also illustrated how the whole magic revolves around three basic things; the meat is to wheat ratio, the spice mix, and the pounding process.
The next day we went to the makeshift kitchen of Pista House, the stalwart in Haleem business, to discover how this majestic dish is made. It's a labour and time intensive process where a huge quantity of meat, soaked broken wheat, dals (urad, chana and toor), spices, and plenty of ghee are cooked together for 12 hours in huge cauldrons over firewood. The cooking process happens in three stages that include boiling, steaming(Dum), and pounding. The last stage is both crucial and awe-inspiring. Crucial because it’s these continuous long hours of pounding that results in the desired velvety and sticky texture of the Haleem. And awe-inspiring because it involves an enormous amount of human strength and patience to handle those insanely large and heavy wooden mallets for pounding.
After overseeing the process of its making we also tried this celebrated dish which was the reason behind so many happy faces around us. No doubt the taste was superlative. Watching the whole dynamics of haleem’s journey from the kitchen to the counters was truly gratifying. We thank all our amazing hosts for their cooperation and hospitality.