Hyderabadis are likely to miss the much sought after dish, haleem, this Ramzan. With the month of fasting commencing during the lockdown period on April 25, chances of the seasonal flavour making a comeback are pretty slim. Over the years, haleem has become synonymous with Ramzan with everyone rushing to sample the syrupy dish after ‘iftar’.

Normally the city would have been busier than a beehive this time of the year. But with Corona scare looming large, the hustle and bustle associated with Ramzan is missing now. With the lockdown extended up to May 3, uncertainty persists and none knows whether business establishments and hotels would be allowed to open after this period.

Haleem is a big business during Ramzan but its makers are now caught in a catch-22 situation – whether to prepare the dish or to drop the idea altogether. By the time the present lockdown is over, first ten days of Ramzan would be over and therefore selling haleem for the remaining 20 days doesn’t make sound business sense, it is felt.

“Nearly two months preparation is required to make haleem. And now hardly a week is left for commencement of Ramazan. Even if we get the necessary permission from authorities it is very difficult to start the business”, said S.G. Rabbani of Shah Ghouse chain of hotels.

The same view is expressed by Aziz Zafar, President, Twin Cities Hotel Owners Association. “Getting the labour, raw material and meat under the present circumstances is very difficult. Personally I am of the view that we should skip haleem this season”, he remarked. About 4000 small and big hotels are covered by the Association.

“In consultation with other haleem makers we will take a call on the matter in two days”, Mr. Zafar said.

Pista House, which has the largest chain of haleem outlets, is also faced with the same quandary. It is expected to go about the decision taken by other haleem makers in the city. At the same time, Pista House proprietor, Abdul Majeed, is toying with the idea of launching parcel service to provide haleem to its customers. He plans to prepare the dish in clean and hygienic environment and supply the same through Swiggy or Zomato food chains. Orders will be received on line and haleem will be supplied through delivery boys since there is no bar on take away service, it is said.

Pista House plans to engage a function hall at Pillar No. 210 in Attapur for preparing haleem while adhering to the social distancing norms. The take away centres will be established at different parts of the city so that it is easy for the customers as also the delivery boys to distribute the haleem packets. The online service will be available only up to 5 p.m and no orders will be entertained after iftar, it is said.

“Everything will be done in consultation with the authorities. A final decision will be taken in a couple of days”, Mr. Majeed said.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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