It is the season for haleem hopping and long debates into the night about which one is the best. No resting on last year’s laurels in Hyderabad. Oh BTW, we consider haleem as haleem only if it is whipped with goat meat and not beef or chicken.
Here are our favourites for this year:
1. Shah Ghouse: 98%
Arguably the best. Don’t trust us? Go in the night at 1:30 a.m. to the Toli Chowki outlet or the one near the Biodiversity Park or the original Shahalibanda spot and the crowds show no signs of thinning. Voting with their feet, the stoppersby cannot have enough of the stuff being dished out at all their outlets. This year, huge insulated milk jars have been transformed to transport haleem. Spicy, meaty, not too many bones and cooked to perfection. This is the one to have this year.
2. Cafe Bahar: 96%
Absolutely up there is this restaurant’s version of haleem. Everything is just right and the best part is it is not soaked in the flavour of over-whelming ghee. For 100 bucks and a free Pepsi to boot, this is a steal.
Without too many bones and just the right quantity of whole spices, this is one heck of a haleem.
3. Shadab: 95%
Doesn’t disappoint. Be it the one near the Badshahi Ashoorkhana or the one wedged between Shah Ghouse and Pista House. It is a delight. It is subtle without being overpowering. The restaurant is not trying too hard and it shows with the presentation. Best part is you can sit down and eat.
4. Pista House: 94%
Trailing by a wide margin, only the marketing savvy has pushed this also-ran haleem into the fourth position. The trademark oodles of ghee is there. But where is the meat? Why are there so many bones? These are the questions haleem eaters are asking once they dip their plastic spoons into the haleem. The quibble is not just about quality but about the feeling of being let down.
5. Hyderabad House: 94%
A safe bet. You won’t go wrong with this. Skimps on the ghee but that’s how you get to savour the real fare. The Zaiqa-e-Ramzan which opens at 5 p.m. and goes on till 5 a.m. is one way to get a real feel of Ramzan delicacies. But the haleem stands out. But we should say an increase in the proportion of meat won’t do much harm to the taste of this.
8. Bawarchi: 93%
Kya baat hai. This RTC Crossroads joint known more for its biryani and the difficulty for finding a parking lot, has the most amazing concoction. Not too sticky, not too gooey and with the right proportion of meat, wheat and whole spices. A ladle-full of ghee on top adds a different tang to the texture. But definitely a winner.
And yep. It is just 100 bucks.
6. Bombay Hotel: 90%
When family men from the surrounding areas walk in with small steel cans and take parcels, then be assured the haleem is good. The topping they put is not a ladle of ghee but the oily broth called shorba.
Heck, it is not even red in colour. There is no sprinkling of cashew nuts or sprigs of mint, but only of specks of oil. Served in bone china bowls, it has an old world charm to it.
7. Sarvi: 85%
Arrey, yeh bhi haleem hai? That would be your reaction when you taste this one. It has been quite a fall for this haleem this year, considering it was one of the top destinations last year and the year before that.
Highly commercial but lacking the kick that is required to be a winner.
9. Mohini: 75%
Unsung and almost missed. This one flew under the radar. It is moderate in every sense and tastes just right. Minus the hungama of salesboys, the noise and the clang of cauldrons, the haleem looks like any other but is a standout due to its understated texture and taste.
10. Paradise: 60%
Never a legend, now an also ran. This haleem is better labelled a spicy wheat porridge rather than what the restaurant is calling it. An absolute let down considering the reputation and the resources the restaurant has.