Last year Hyderabad celebrated Ramzan without Haleem, and this year even with restaurants opening up, people are hesitant to eat Haleem.
Hyderabad: Covid-19 fear keeps customers away from Haleem. Abhishek, a customer at Altaf’s Haleem, said, “I’m a huge fan of Haleem, but this year I’m hesitating to come out frequently and have Haleem as I’m scared of contracting covid-19. Previously I used to have Haleem three to four times a day, but now, I’m eating Haleem hardly once in a day.”
MD Alatf, owner of Altaf’s Haleem, said, “If compared with every year, sales now are below 50 percent. I think people are scared to come and have Haleem. The other reason also might be the night curfew. As previously a major portion of people used to come and eat Haleem late at night. The amount of wastage this year is also high. Either we have to throw the leftovers or distribute it among family members and neighbors. We are satisfying ourselves with the little amount we earn. Only 10-12 days are left for the Haleem season, and I think this year we will be left with no profits.”
As events stay cancelled, the sale of chicken has hit rock bottom. Afrooz, owner of A1 Lucky wholesale and retail chicken and mutton shop said, “Sales of mutton are stable, but the sales of chicken have decreased. There is no demand for chicken as there are no functions or events taking place. Haleem vendors are coming to buy chicken but the quantity they buy is very less when compared with other years.”
Haleem is made of four main components, grain, meat, spices, and cooking liquid. This dish is slow-cooked for seven to eight hours and then vigorously stirred or beaten with a pestle-like stirring stick. This results in a paste-like consistency, blending the flavors of spices, meat, barley, and wheat.
Shiva, a customer at Altaf’s Haleem, hopes the situation gets better by next year. He said, “I don’t think I’ll get corona because of eating Haleem since it is prepared by cooking for eight hours in the heat. My only problem is with hygiene at restaurants. So I’m being selective in the case of restaurants I eat at. I’m eating very little compared to previous years, I just hope at least by next year everyone can have Haleem without thinking of contracting with corona.”
Mohammed Kaleemullah, Economics Professor at Bhavan’s college said, “They need to maintain hygiene. If restaurants are clean only then the customers are preferring to eat. People are keen about things like wearing gloves, masks and proper packing of Haleem. When it comes to hygiene, places like Pista House and Shadab are good examples for small Haleem vendors. People are going to restaurants only if they trust and believe it is safe. In order to get customers small Haleem vendors should focus more on hygiene and safety precautions.”
Haleem was introduced during the Mughal period. It has become a popular dish in Telangana and Maharashtra. From Hyderabad, Haleem is transported all over the world through a special courier service. Haleem is traditionally cooked in large, wood-fired cauldrons.