Big restaurants start preparations, smaller ones far from confident
Haleem will be back on the menu in Hyderabad during this Ramzan. A year after their business plans were wrecked by COVID-induced lockdown, restaurateurs in the city are rolling up their sleeves to create the Hyderabad patented dish that has a geographical indication tag.
“We may not have many franchisees as we used to, but we are definitely going to make the dish and sell them from all our locations. We are raising the sanitation game and are getting the staff tested for the SARS-CoV2 virus. We will keep them on the premises so that the risk of them catching the virus is lowered,” said M.A. Majeed of Hyderabad Haleem Makers’ Association.
Outside Pista House restaurant in Shalibanda, workers were creating the earthen oven-like structure in which the thick meat-wheat-cereal stew topped with clarified butter is cooked for 12 hours before it is served to customers during Iftar. However, there have been no billboards put up by restaurants about the countdown to the first day of Ramzan when Haleem is served.
“People missed Haleem last year. They have been calling and texting and asking for it at our restaurants. We are going ahead with normal plans for haleem at our facility in Gachibowli this time. We are cleaning up the place and will maintain high standards of hygiene,” said Mohammad Rabbani of Shah Ghouse Cafe, one of the bigger haleem makers in the city.
‘Boost to economy’
According to industry watchers, the haleem business is worth a few hundred crores in the city that happens within 30 days of the Islamic calendar month. “The meat comes from different parts of the country, including interior Telangana. The wheat comes from Punjab. We get the best spices from various parts of the country. Though Haleem is locally popular, it helps the economy nationally,” says Mr. Majeed.
While the two big haleem makers were gung-ho about their business plans, the smaller restaurant owners were not so confident. “It looks like a gamble. We cannot invest a lot as the police can easily force us to shut down if a large number of people turn up. We haven’t even set up the oven which we used to do around Shab-e-Barat,” said a restaurant owner near Kalapathar.
The Telangana government has promulgated GO M.S.no 69 with guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19 infections that are surging again. “Congregations pose considerable threat of rapid transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, it is decided that religious celebrations/observances should not be allowed in the state during upcoming religious events like Shab-e-Barat, Holi, Ugadi, Rama Navami, Mahavir Jayanti, Good Friday, Ramzan etc till April 30,” says the order.
With the announcement of Ramzan likely to be announced in under a fortnight based on the sighting of the new moon, it remains to be seen how the Haleem gamble pays off.
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