HYDERABAD: Any Hyderabadi worth his/her salt knows that Haleem is the star of the culinary crew during Ramzan. This year, SodaBottleOpenerWala in Jubilee Hills not only has a platter of six varieties of Haleem, but also has dishes like Chicken Shish Taouk which is eaten at this time of the year in the Middle-East.
As you dig into the Haleem platter, you will be amazed by the creaminess of the Persian Haleem which is served with a generous helping of cream. But as Chef Aneesh revealed later, the secret behind the smooth texture of the Persian dish is not the cream, but chickpeas! “The Persian Haleem is subtly spiced with cloves, nutmeg and lemon powder made from dried lemons,” added the chef. With great difficulty, you shift your focus to the other variants in the platter.
The chicken Haleem and special chicken Haleem are the same, but the latter is garnished with succulent pieces of Talawa Gosht and cashew nuts. The Haleem is meatier than the Persian one and scores higher on spice level. There is a vegetarian Haleem too which is the Persian dish Haleem Bademjan, sans the beef. It is made from brinjals and whey sauce and tastes a bit like our own Baigan Ka Bharta. The mutton variants (normal and special) were aromatic and totally free of bones. The pudina sprigs and the birista took the taste quotient of the dishes several notches higher.
The Chicken Shish Taouk was the first dish from Middle-Eastern fare to make an appearance on the table. It’s a Lebanese chicken dish cooked on skewers with pickled chillies and spices. The chicken pieces, served with a garlic dip and naan, were very flavourful and slightly tangy due to the pickled chillies. There was a Mezze platter for vegetarians which included bell pepper Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Falafel, olives, Tzatziki and Pita bread.
Rice lovers need not despair as there is an Irani Raan Pulao, made of spiced lamb leg and flavourful rice. However, the best of the lot was the lamb Arayes, which is pita bread stuffed with spiced minced lamb, onions and peppers. It’s a lot like a kulcha, but softer, lighter and better. The stuffed bread, served with pickled vegetables and garlic dip, is a filling meal in itself.
The desserts - Umm Ali and Kanafeh - deserve a special mention. With every stroke of the spoon, the puff pastry in Umm Ali broke away and got dipped in the warm, dry fruit-flavoured milk, hitting all the right notes. The Kanafeh was good too, though the cheese was a tad too sour for my taste. The Ramzan special menu will be there till June 5. Prices range between Rs 175 to Rs 395