Hyderabad Haleem a 500cr business this year
Once a rare Iftar treat that you’d find only in the Old City, now it’s everywhere.The kind of euphoria that surrounds haleem in Hyderabad can’t be seen anywhere else. According to the Haleem Maker’s Association, it is a Rs 500 crore business this year.
Haleem stalls, most of them temporary set-ups for Ramzan, inundated the city with their sidewalk bhattis and eye-catching signs – there are almost 6,000 this year, which means haleem is just a short walk away from virtually anywhere in the city. People travel to Hyderabad specifically to eat haleem. Pista House was the one to really push haleem, setting up kiosks across the city. Today, if anybody talks about biriyani, they talk about Paradise. For haleem, it’s Pista House.
Pista House, which opened in 1997, operates as a modest bakery on every month of the year except during Ramadan, when it aggressively tries to make itself synonymous with Hyderabad haleem. The business trademark idea was to ship parcels via parcel service to doorsteps around the country. MA Majeed, its founder and present owner, also successfully led a push to give Hyderabadi haleem a Geographic Identification tag, a distinction that the brand proudly advertises on its take-home containers.
Seventy years ago only the Madina Hotel served haleem and a bowl of it would cost 50 paise and gave you a full stomach. In 1953, a man named Hussain Zabed became the first person to start commercially selling haleem in the city, using a modified recipe from his native country of Iran. The caloric, protein-rich meal from Zabed’s Madina Hotel only steps away from the 400-year-old Charminar monument caught on as a tasty addition to iftar, the evening meal with which Muslims break the Ramzan fast.
Mutton haleem is preferred by foodies, but these days one can also find chicken, vegetarian, fish and even emu versions, all meant to accommodate a wider range of city diets and budgets. Especially with sales of chicken haleem soaring, the trend has caused haleem traditionalists to bristle and worry.There are two basic reasons why chicken haleem has gotten popular- one, a lot of non-Muslims worry about mutton, since you can’t tell if it’s been mixed with beef and secondly, we have a lot of neo-non-vegetarians now, people who just started eating meat. They’re comfortable with eating chicken, but can’t quite handle red meat.