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Simply mouth-watering!

Wholesome, nourishing and delicious too! The halim served at Bundu Bhai's shop in the Walled City is all this and much more, says a delighted RAHUL VERMA.

Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

For a taste of the ambrosia! Bundu Bhai's shop serves just that in the name of halim.

IT'S STRANGE how ignorant we are about some dishes that are a veritable part of the multi-hued fabric we call India. We know everything about a chicken nugget or a Hawaiian pizza, but a dish like halim continues to fox us. I thought of this the other day when I was contemplating making a meal out of some good halim. "Where are you going," a friend asked. "I am in search of halim," I replied. "Who's he?" the friend retorted.

I don't really blame people for not knowing about halim - food habits are changing so dramatically that some of our finest dishes are getting lost in the race for globalisation. Thankfully, people who know their halim continue to relish it. But I feel sad for those who don't know - or have never tasted - a dish that is so exceptionally good to eat. Halim is, simply put, a mish-mash of various kinds of lentils, broken wheat and meat cooked with spices.

This is cooked over a low fire and stirred continuously till the mixture reaches a porridge-like consistency. Of course, this is a rather simplistic explanation for a great, mouth-watering dish. The whole process is actually rather long and laborious.

Instant bonding

My first encounter with a bowl of halim took place nearly 20 years ago. It was Ramzan time, and a friend had just come from Hyderabad and brought with him a tiffin box full of halim. My first mouthful led to an instant bonding between us (at least, there was bonding from my side!). I was told that halim is basically prepared during Ramzan, for it's wholesome and nourishing. After I had had my heart's full, I added: and delicious as well.

Since then, I have been in search of a good Halim maker in the Walled City. A friend told me about Bade Mian Halimwallah - a legend of the Lal Kuan-Ballimaran area. But the Ustad was no more, and I - saddened by his departure - went looking for halim in the Jama Masjid area. My first stop was the fish-market, where - after some friendly haggling over a big rahu - I asked about a good Halimwallah. My fish supplier guided me to the steps of the Jama Masjid. I found an eatery selling halim there, but it wasn't up to my expectations - and nowhere near the heavenly dish that my friend from Hyderabad had brought for us. But the best thing about the world of food is that people take care of each other.

Bundu Bhai's shop

Just when I was giving up my search for halim, a friend told me about Bundu Bhai's halim shop. So, one fine afternoon, I reached there, after carefully making my way through the crowd that was all yelling out for Bundu Bhai's halim. In due course, I was given a plate full of halim, for which I paid the princely sum of two rupees. The Mian sprinkled some masalas on top of the halim, and finally garnished it with chopped green chillies, fresh coriander leaves and thin slivers of ginger. It was so delicious and creamy that I happily bid a fond goodbye to the Hyderabad halim. This was like ambrosia. I have been haunting Bundu Bhai's shop since then. I went back there recently, and found that the quality of the halim is as good as ever. Unfortunately, Bundu Bhai is no more, but his sons have not let that legacy down.

To reach Bundu's, you go up to Karim's at Jama Masjid, and then keep going down the same lane (Gali Kababian) till you see hordes of people waiting to immerse themselves into some juicy halim. But, remember, they only serve this at lunch time, so you'd better be there by 12.30 p.m. if you want to get a taste of Bundu Bhai's halim.

I filled up a big tiffin-carrier with Bundu's halim for Rs.20 and then had a lavish lunch with a few of my friends. We literally licked our platter clean - my tiffin carrier had not a morsel in it by the time we finished lunch. It was so clean that I was tempted not to rinse it!

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