Haleem is Hyderabadi now. The delicacy prepared during Ramzan recently got a geographical indication (GI) tag. This implies that haleem makers in other parts the country cannot use the Hyderabad tag.
“It is the cooking that we had applied as the criterion for being recognised as Hyderabadi haleem,” says MA Majeed, president of the Hyderabad Haleem Makers Association and owner of Pista House, which is the largest seller of haleem.
There are over 6,000 haleem makers in the city, who have come together to form the association to ensure that the legacy of haleem making is preserved.
“Haleem preparation is a lengthy process, which begins at dawn and goes on till dusk. The timing of mixing the ingredients is the key that determines the taste,” he says.
There have been instances of haleem in other major cities being sold under the label of Hyderabad haleem, he says, claiming that haleem is the first GI tag for Hyderabad.
The festive season is also the benefactor for many other sectors. It is said that about 6,000 goats/sheep go to the guillotine everyday of the holy month. Most of the sheep are brought to the city from the neighbouring districts. It is estimated that the haleem sale is valued around Rs 4 crore a day, making it a Rs 120-crore industry in the city alone.
The season also heralds a new economic cycle — the prices of goat and sheep go up during Ramzan and that becomes the benchmark for the rest of the year. Chicken is also used to make a variant of haleem. Wheat and spices, which many say are imported from Iran, are the main ingredients.
According to Majeed, the festive season provides employment to about 25,000 people directly and many more indirectly — for logistics and all.
K Subodh Kumar, head CII (IPR) and representing the Andhra Pradesh Technology Development and Promotion Centre, says haleem has distinctive characteristics and the chefs have perfected the technique over a period of time.
Majeed is one of the few organised players to export haleem, mainly to the US and West Asia. He takes orders online and ensures that they are door-delivered within 14 days. “We certify that the product is safe to consume even after one month,” he says, adding haleem has a shelf life of as long as one year.
Pista House has also tied up with Gati for delivering haleem parcels. For domestic orders, the haleem is made ready by 2 pm, packed and sent by 4 pm to the airport and delivered by 11 pm the same day. Pista House plans to set up 26 centres in the US, Australia, Canada and others in two years.
AP has GI certifications for Pochampally Ikat, Kondapalli toys, Karimnagar filigree, Srikalahasti handicrafts and the Tirupati laddu.