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September 22, 2008 / lazybug

The Hyderabad Haleem Review – 2008

What’s the best thing to do when the evening’s cool, you’re heading back home and and the tummy’s rumbling? For a Hyderabadi, the answer during any other month of the year could be anything from Burgers to Masala Dosas, but in the holy month of Ramzaan (Ramadan elsewhere), it has to be Haleem.

The thick paste made of Wheat, goat meat and spices has become as much a part of the idea of Hyderabad as the Biryani and the Charminar. That, of course has taken almost a decade but rest assured, it’s here to stay. I still remember going to Hy-Line at Ramkote in 1999-2000 to taste the Haleem for the first time with my cousins. It used to cost Rs 10 back then. A lot has changed since. Here are some of my observations about the scene out there this year:

  • No freebies. The good old 200 ml soft drink is nowhere to be seen.
  • Price disparities galore. Never have the prices between close competitors varied so much. The cheapest being Rs 45 and the costliest being Rs 60.
  • Reduced quantities. Either that, or my appetite has gone up a few notches. The servings this year have been smaller than ever before.
  • Bawarchi’s back. After a disappointing absence last year, Bawarchi at the RTC X roads, is back.
  • Madina’s gone. The good old restaurant seems to have gone for good. And with it, a tasty Haleem too. RIP.
  • Pista House everywhere. The eatery that often gets the credit for popularising Haleem seems to have spread its wings everywhere in the city through franchises.

Indeed, the rising cost of meat has meant that the price of Haleem has gone up steadily over the years. And this year was no different. Prices went up over the previous year from Rs 5 to Rs 10. That’s a huge rise, and I must admit, I don’t find it all too justified. But like I have mentioned earlier, there are surprises in store on this front in 2008.

I was accompanied by Santhosh and my cousin Gautam on most of the sojourns, and here’s what I thought of the various Haleems this year:

Bahaar, Hyderguda: A consistent favourite over the years, it surprised me by not increasing the prices at all (Rs 45, the lowest among the big outlets). However, it disappointed on the taste front by serving an uncharacteristically bland Haleem. But, like last year, it remained open on the Ganesh Visarjan day.

Garden, Secunderabad: The best Haleem on the other side of Tank Bund did a consistent job this year as well. Very spicy and left a taste to remember.

Pista House, Charminar: Didn’t have to travel too far to get the most popular Haleem in Hyderabad. A franchise outlet at Babukhan Mall, Somajiguda served it. Not much has changed as usual, but at Rs 70 (Rs 10 going to the franchisee), it’s the costliest of them all. I was a little disappointed on the quantity front though. Blame them goat meats for it!

Hy-line, Ramkote ‘x’ Roads: No change! It’s like what it was last time. Low on quantity, has lost a bit of its taste and at Rs 60, is only advised in case the other outlets are closed.

Niagara, Chaderghat: The biggest shift in terms of taste happened here. Last year the Haleem was thick, on the lines of Pista House, but this year it was thinner, a la Bahaar and Garden.

Niagara, Hyderguda: Not much to say. The worst Haleem I’ve ever tasted. As luck would have it, I got a scrapping from the bottom of the container and it turned out to be sour! The only way to get rid of the taste was to have another one elsewhere, so I headed over to Hy-Line.

Shadaab, Charminar: First it was the parking fees of Rs 10 for a two-wheeler (murder! murder!), then the guys at the counter who served the Haleem as if we were one of those prisoners in a Hindi movie, and then the server who reminded me of Papaji ka Waiter. He took 15 mintues to take an order for a cup of chai and returned with a Haleem instead, and went on to defend himself with impunity when asked why. That experience cannot take anything away from the Haleem though, which was excellent.

Paradise, Secunderabad: A huge improvement over the previous year on the taste front. Nice and spicy it was.

Sarvi, Banjara Hills: Had their Haleem for the first time. Went there ‘coz Pista House was not available, and were not disappointed. The Haleem was well cooked and spice was just right. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Will go there again, at least once more.

Bawarchi, RTC ‘x’ Roads: This was my favourite a couple of years back, and this time around as well it did not disappoint. What’s more at Rs 50 it was certainly better than some of the other higher-priced Haleems. I went there in spite of severe neck pains. It was well worth it.

So, there it is, a mixed but mostly positive experience for us Haleem buffs this year. I won’t go on to rate one of them as the best. Each has a distinct taste and while some are outright bad, the others mostly vary on a small margin.

I hope the prices stabilise next year. Higher meat prices might encourage people to move to the not-so-popular-yet Harees (Chicken Haleem) in the coming year, but that’s a long way away. If and when it does happen, us connossieurs of Haleem will be there to review it.

Related reads: Vote for your best Haleem | Haleem Review 2007

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19 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Chittaranjan / Sep 22 2008 7:15 pm

    >>What’s the best thing to do when the evening’s cool, you’re heading back home and and the tummy’s rumbling?

    Have a Digene? 😐

    Good Reviews those. None of a Veg. haleem tho 😦

  2. Shashank / Sep 22 2008 7:18 pm

    Hey Akhil, Your presentation was cool man… being a hyderabadi and being away hurts. Your description reminded me of taste from all outlets.. The best among al.. 2 years before was bawarchi and still that should be no. 1… PH is just on name on its innitial years and the marketing and availibilty which makes it famous… Haleem khana toh bawarchi mein khana…

    Chow… Good show !

  3. Liju Philip / Sep 23 2008 12:54 am

    man….am salivating. its so many years since i tasted haleem. is there any place in hyd who sell haleem thru the year?

    last year i came to your blog searching for haleem. ek saal ho gaya yaaro. mubarak ho 😉

  4. Apoorv / Sep 23 2008 2:53 am

    Being put up in KPHB limits my options to try out all these haleems 🙂 . I have been to Pista House , ToliChowki and Saarvi among the ones you have mentioned above . of all the haleems i have tasted over the years , I think Pista house takes the cake !!

  5. Sherry / Sep 23 2008 6:32 am

    Mere gharpe khao haleem! x-(

  6. Prasanthi / Sep 23 2008 6:55 am

    Good review Akhil! U know wt…….? I have been to Pista House yesterday. [;)] hahahaha… But , I am sorry that you were in your home doing nothing! [:(] while I was having haleem [:)]. But, the haleem was really very tasty. [:)]

  7. Omer Ahmed Siddiqui / Sep 23 2008 9:09 am

    Hi Akhil,

    Cheers to ur memory and tastebuds, you could remember so many tastes hotel wise. These hotels just increase the cost of haleem every year to benefit from the huge demand and the rising cost of meat…their best excuse, which is unquestionable.

    Even though the cost of meat has increased, but considering the amount of sale and the quantity of meat these people put in haleem, I strongly believe the increase in the cost of haleem is not justified.

    If you observe, the same thing happens during bakrid, the cost of goats touches the sky on the first and second day of the festival, while the goat sellers drastically decrease the price on the third day of the festival, as they have to bear the cost of carrying back the unsold stock back to villages.

    The rise in cost of meat, and on similar lines beef (rise in cost of beef always follows a price hike in meat, irrespective of the rise in cost of cattle)can be attributed to the greed of the brokers who purchase cattle from the villagers on wholesale basis and sell the same at a quadrupled cost.

    Its high time for some regulatory body to become active and check this exploitation, before meat, or in this case haleem becomes a dish which only the rich class could afford.

  8. Arul / Sep 23 2008 5:48 pm

    My brother wanted to get haleem from the store at the Philadelphia/Delware border. Unfortunately they only serve it on Fridays, so he wasn’t able to get it last weekend.

  9. saamy / Sep 24 2008 5:31 am

    Garden haleem is the waste of all

  10. Abdul Haleem / Sep 24 2008 6:58 am

    Hey Akhil,
    After reading ur blog we tried Garden but its tastes was not at all worth the price.

  11. Abdul Haleem / Sep 24 2008 7:08 am

    PH, Niagara Chaderghat, Bahaar and Paradise are worth trying.
    I shall try Sarvi Banjara Hills and Hy-Line

  12. chirax / Sep 24 2008 8:13 am

    Haleem is great and Bejha Fry even better 🙂

  13. RD the cousin...(comment moved) / Sep 25 2008 5:42 pm

    Maybe you already did, but a post on best biryani in Hyd? if you already did, let me know…..

    Recently read the review of “Bahaar in OutlookIndia (outlookindia.com)
    -Incidentally, they mention patrons exporting biryani to relatives abroad…so….eagerly waiting…..kab bhej rahe hai? 🙂
    …..

    Cafe Bahaar
    Hyderguda, Hyderabad.
    Tel: 23243798
    Meal for two: Rs 200

    Where do you get the best biriyani in Hyderabad? Most people automatically say “Paradise”, but that’s just great branding, not necessarily great cookery. Those who really know their food would quietly point you, instead, to Cafe Bahaar.

    Cooking biriyani is a fine art, as the meat has to be cooked inside the rice itself—and that calls for great skill and judgement. The biriyani here is near-perfect: rich but not greasy; spiced just right; the meat tender, pink and moist. It’s best eaten with just dahi ki chatni. But make sure you order mutton biriyani (chicken biriyani ain’t the real thing). If you’re brave you can also try their bheja fry or gurda masala.

    We once made the mistake of asking what their specialities were, and were admonished by the waiter, “Dekho saab, yahaan jo bhi milta, sab special hota”. The best way to end your meal is with a tiny cup of sweet, creamy ‘pouna’ chai (death for diabetics!). Their takeaway counter does brisk business, especially these days, during Ramzan. According to the Bulooki family, who run the place, people send their biriyani parcels to foodie friends and relatives in other cities—or, sometimes, even abroad.

  14. almostinfamous / Sep 30 2008 9:01 am

    would you be interested in doing a video version of the haleem review?

    this sounds very promising 🙂

  15. Yashashwini Y P / Oct 1 2008 3:46 am

    You must try Astoria’s Haleem next year. It stands beside Bawarchi at X roads.

    Last week we went to Mohammad Ali (Mumbai) at 2 am with some silly hope of finding Haleem. We didn’t obviously, so I rushed back to Hyderabad! 😀

  16. Sherry / Oct 2 2008 12:39 am

    I just had some from Al Saba cafe (near Shanti nagar Andhra bank), and it is the closest yet to home-ki-haleem…

  17. Naveen / Oct 2 2008 4:25 am

    You should have tried 555 in Masab Tank. It is still one of my favorite places for Haleem in Hyd.

  18. Cleveland / Jan 26 2015 10:54 pm

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