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Taste of tradition

Ramzan is the time to indulge in authentic Hyderabadi cuisine


DURING RAMZAN chop suey, pan pizzas and foot longs take a back seat and the die hard burger and cola aficionados are hooked to haleem and faluda. Traditional cuisine, like the distinctive Dahi badey, Chaney ki dal and season-specific delicacies, which are forgotten during the year, surface in this month-long period.

"Ramzan follows the lunar calendar, which is shorter than the Gregorian calendar. It does not fall in the same season every year. When Ramzan falls in winter, nehari, the lamb trotter delicacy, is preferred, while Nishasta (faluda made with wheat milk instead of china grass) is served with balanga sherbet in summers as coolant. Also chaney ki dal is seasoned variously during the different seasons with green chutney and lemon juice, salt and crushed pepper corns in winters and kairi (raw mango) ki chutney in summers. And one thing that is made during Ramzan come rain or shine is haleem prepared with the four Gs— gehun (wheat), gosht (meat), ghee and garam masala," says Mumtaz Khan, a sine qua non when it comes to Hyderabadi cuisine. Apart from spicy delicacies, fruits find place on the tables. Topping the list are the dates. The delectable platter is all about health - haleem makes for a nutritious fibre rich porridge, chaney ki dal brings a protein rich fare and dates are favoured to break the fast owing to the high mineral and energy content. While taste and energy matters, the presentation makes for an important component of the feast. The red dastar khan unfolds on which special kaanch ke bartan - katoris and glasses are arranged for the iftaar parties (supper) where friends from various religious faiths are invited over. And if the iftaar parties are not enough, the Old City presents a food carnival. Restaurants such as Shadab, Madina and Niagra have people queuing up in the wee hours to try the kebab and haleem. "You have to go to the Old City during the season. There is nothing to beat the place when it comes to haleem, served with a rich layer of ghee especially in winter," says Prasoon.

The nip in the air and the aroma of delicacies wafting into the winter night from Charminar, makes it the right time to indulge. So the next time you spot an autowallah, it wouldn't be a bad idea to ask him chalte kya Charminar?

SYEDA FARIDA

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