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Hyderabadi Haleem to go global, outlets in US planned (Business Feature)

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Hyderabadi Haleem, a delicious stew of meat, lentils and wheat, is all set to go global with Pista House, a famous chain here, planning to open 20 outlets in the United States this year.

Pista House, which has become synonymous with Haleem, has joined hands with Raghuveer Reddy, an Indian American businessman, to open its restaurants to serve the delicacy.

"We will start with Dallas, where we will open our first restaurant in August. We plan to open a total of 20 outlets in the US this year," Pista House managing director M. A. Majeed told IANS.

He is also exploring the opportunities in London. A London-based businessman recently visited Hyderabad and evinced interest in a tie-up with Pista House, which claims to be the largest Haleem seller in the world with daily sales crossing 10 tonnes during Ramadan.

The joint has already set up its outlets in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Originating as an Arab dish, Haleem for many decades has been staple food during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The syrupy dish has been Indianised with the addition of Indian spices, dry fruits, ghee and the unique style of cooking.

The dish became hugely popular in the last 15 years with Pista House setting a new benchmark with its high quality ingredients and preparation. The irresistible delicacy is preferred for breaking the fast due to its energizing nature, high nutritional value and soothing porridge-like texture.

Within the country, Pista House expanded its operations to Bangalore this year. It has similar plans for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta.

In partnership with Gati Ltd, it is already supplying Haleem to various cities in India. "Our Haleem gets ready at 1 p.m and we send the same to other cities through flights between 3 and 4 p.m. We try to ensure that it is delivered at the customer's doorsteps by 8 p.m," said Majeed.

This year, a plate (350 grams) of Haleem is priced at Rs.120, up from Rs.95 last year. For customers in other cities it is delivered for Rs.585 per kg. Majeed attributed the hike to the increase in prices of meat and other ingredients.

There are an estimated 600 Haleem makers in Hyderabad, who do business of over Rs.100 crore during Ramadan.

Majeed, who is also president of the Haleem Makers Association, got a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Hyderabadi Haleem in 2010. "This tag means Haleem is Hyderabad's property and symbol. One selling Haleem with the name Hyderabadi Haleem will have to meet the standards set by us," he said.

The quality measures include use of copper vessels and cooking on wood fire for 12 hours. Almost every hotel and road-side eatery set up brick and mud kilns during the holy month for preparing the Haleem, a painstaking process. Two or more men mix the ingredients with large wooden sticks for many hours.

The dish is topped with a ghee-based gravy, pieces of lime, chopped coriander, sliced boiled egg and fried onions as garnish. For many, Ramadan is incomplete without Haleem. Non-Muslims too relish it at hundreds of eateries across the city.

There are some hotels in the city which serve the dish throughout the year. It is also a popular dish in Muslim weddings, usually served as a starter.

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at m.shafeeq@ians.in)

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