Hyderabad: Come Muharram and there are revenue spikes for bakeries in Hyderabad. They live out their best dreams as 'Dum ke Roat', the snack of the month, is up for grabs. The crunchy cookie is the fastest moving eatable during the season. Though it is mourning time for Shias, there is a sweet side to Muharram as well. Dum ke Roat swamps the market with the dawn of Muharram and the demand peaked on 'Youme Ahsoora', the tenth day of mourning on Tuesday.

As the historic 'Bibi ka Alam' procession wound its way through the Old City, huge rush was seen at bakeries across the city. The Dum ke Roat trail leads to numerous confectionaries. But heavy footfalls are seen at popular joints like Subhan Bakery, Karachi Bakery and Pista House.

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Time was when Dume ke Roat used to be prepared by women at homes during Muharram. Now bakeries have taken over the task and specialised in making this traditional cookie. Interestingly, this sweet-baked treat is the most secular eatable - although there is a religious significance to it. Irrespective of religion and cast people indulge in Dum ke Roat just for its flavour since it is purely a vegetarian cake. According to Shia scholars, the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, is believed to have offered Roat to the 'Nala-e-Mubarak' Alam near Charminar for the safety and protection of his grandson, Mukarram Jah Bahadur. Even now the practice continues and people who take such a vow for the well being of their wards break the Roat on the Alam and distribute it to others.

What is Roat all about? Well, a large number of things go into its making. The main ingredients are: wheat flour, sooji (semolina), vegetable oils, sugar, honey, clarified butter, salt, cardamom and milk products. For added flavour, it is decked with dry fruits such as almonds, cashew nuts, pista and saffron. "But getting all these in the right proportion is the most important aspect", says Syed Irafan of Subhan Bakery.

What Haleem is to Ramzan, Dum ke Roat is to Muharram. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Why not get a mouthful and let your taste buds tickle.

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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