Friday, August 28, 2009

Pista House's Haleem - Divine Gastronomy

This post has a very high probability of wandering into the realms of exaggeration, and if some of you have gathered such from the title I don't blame you. However, hand on foodie heart, I shall try and be as objective as is practically possible writing this piece after having a plateful of it, three to be precise. The 'it' is obviously the haleem from Pista House, Hyderabad.

To get everyone on board I think we should know the basic facts right.

Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان‎, pronounced: /rɑmɑd̪ˤɑːn/) (also written Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan, Ramdan, Ramadaan) is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until sunset [Source: Wikipedia]

It is during this time that many Muslims break their day long fast by the dish, the protagonist of this post, Haleem.

Haleem "is a type of stew made from pounded wheat and mutton (or beef) made into a thick paste. It is the mainstay during the Holy month of Ramadan. It is a tradition to break the daily fast (roza) at Iftar with a plateful of haleem." [Source: Wikipedia] Detailed recipe here.

Okay, now that the basics have been covered, time for the details.

Think of what Sachin Tendulkar is to cricket, Ustad Bismillah Khan to the flute or Madagascar to vanilla. Now, that is what Pista House is to Haleem.

We are in the month of Ramadan and having spent a year in Hyderabad I had this craving for Haleem earlier this week. After a few tweets and status updates, God in the guise of Pratyush Prasanna told me via a Facebook comment that Pista House in fact delivers Haleem to quite a few cities of India (research tells me they are - Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad Coimbatore & Pune) and what's more they also accept orders and payments over the internet using credit/debit cards! Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson confirmed it. The minimum order has to be 1 kilo, which comes at a very reasonable 320 INR and is usually shipped within 1-2 days, the package will arrive between 8-11 PM if you are outside of Hyderabad.

I did what I was ordained to.

A bad thunderstorm in Hyderabad and some logistical difficulties tried to stand between my destiny and me, but only for a day. Around 10:30 PM tonight our doorbell rang and Veni came rushing to tell me it was The Haleem!

I leave you with a thought and some pictures. There are very few food items that make you, urge you to live that bit longer just so that you can taste it one more time, Haleem ranks right at the top of the chart. The other of course being Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani. On second thoughts, the culinary God's seem to have been a bit too blatantly biased towards the city of Nizams! God bless Hyderabad, God bless Haleem!

 The package has arrived on our dining table

The famous Pista House emblem

And we are one step away from the first look.

 Nothing has looked more deceptive than a kilo of lumpy haleem.

And there it is, in all it's glory after being heated for 3 minutes. The aroma of meat, ghee and a hundred spices filled our dining room and I guess and hope will not leave it in a hurry!
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