Monday, June 29, 2015

This Ramazan, Go 'Haleem Hopping' With Fun, Joy & Taste!

By Sheena Shafia in Hyderabad
Once it is limited to the old city, Haleem frenzy has caught on with foodies in the IT land. scores of `Bhattis' have been propped up almost overnight in Hi-Tec city, even as Haleem walks and get-togethers are bringing people closer. restaurants too have introduced customised Haleem dishes to cash in on the fad.

Pious prayers, flashy neon lights, late night adventures and an air thick with sinfully delectable aromas ­ Hyderabad, during the holy month of Ramzan, comes alive in a way that's distinctly different from its other avatars.
What stands out most prominently though is the blurring of ideological and religious differences within communities, as people from across faiths set out together on a gastronomic expedition ­ ironically synonymous with the 30 days of fasting.Their one common love: Haleem.

Restricted to the jam-packed streets of the Old City until a few years ago, the haleem frenzy has, with time, spread far and wide, particularly along the stretches of `hi-tech' Hyderabad. Such is the craze among the laptop-toting populace that many of them wait impatiently all year long for the moon to be sighted and Ramzan to finally begin. From then on, it is a continuous cycle of `Haleem Hopping' that takes over, ending only with Eid.

Not surprisingly, a host of popular makers of the savoury dish have now made their way into the by-lanes of Hi-Tech City, Madhapur, Kondapur and Gachibowli.They have even tied up with upscale IT offices to deliver that box of piping hot haleem right at the desk of its employees. In fact, companies like Deloitte, TCS, Google, Microsoft and Wipro have gone a step ahead and brought the `meaty meal' straight into their private food courts to pamper their staff with the seasonal delicacy .

If that's not all, rows of makeshift `bhattis' preparing this aromatic concoction of pounded meat and lentils ­ doused in pure ghee ­ have sprung up in various parts of the IT hub.

“Only three years ago, the situation was entirely different. We had to go a long way to find haleem. Now, we can get it de ered at our doorstep in a jiffy,“ said Rahul Basu, a web developer and one of the moderators of Hyderabad Foodies -an online network of food lovers. He agreed that this hoopla around haleem has become an irresistible annual phenomenon.

So much so that techies now organize social gatherings ­ much on the lines of iftar parties ­ to share the joys of eating haleem with friends and family . They also conduct haleem walks and engage in relentless rounds of debates and discussions over the best haleem outlet of the year! Ship ping crates of this interna tionally-recognized Hyderabadi `khana' to other parts of the country too has become a common practice among these professionals.“Last year, my friends from Delhi were in town during Ramzan and I happened to treat them to haleem.They loved it so much that this year I ordered for a few boxes to be delivered to them there. They said it was as tasty as the last time,“ said Pranay Joshi, a marketing executive living in the city for the past five years.

Given this haleem `madness' among the city's migrant popu lation, restaurants in the area have now started to experi ment with their recipes and incorporate the Ramzan flavour into their menu cards. One such example is Cinnamon Fusion, located bang in the middle of Hi-Tech City.The joint ­ which as the name suggests specializes in the `mix' and `match' of cuisines ­ has given an Italian twist to the desi dish. The `Haleem Pizza' here comes for Rs 100 a plate.

“We constantly experiment with different cuisines. Haleem pizza has grown to be one of our customers' favorites. We opened a counter at Infosys to promote the same and it became a huge hit among people looking to grab a quick bite in between work. We'll soon introduce other haleembased dishes,“ said Jaideep Singh, the hotel's manager. While permutation and combinations like these have enhanced the excitement quotient among food fanatics in the IT zone, there are some who still cannot think beyond Old City every time they think of haleem or even Ramzan for that matter.

“During Ramzan, Old City is a spectacle you cannot miss. The place is lively and buzzing till 4 am. Everyone is a part of the festivity,“ said Harshit Jain, an SAP consultant with Infosys.

Software engineer and selfconfessed foodie Madhurima Niyogi couldn't agree more. While the cropping up of haleem counters closer home has definitely given her reason to be happy, trips to the stalls near Charminar, she insists, have a charm of their own. “Even a small vendor there serves tasty haleem. That's the pleasure of being there,“ the techie confessed.

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