Hyderabad is famous for the Charminar, Salarjung Museum, Biryani and IT companies -- and the Hyderabadi Haleem is now all set to join the vaunted list.
The famous and nutritious dish available during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will soon get the Hyderabadi tag akin to Darjeeling Tea, Banarasi Silk and Tirupati Laddu.
Once the Geographical Indicator (GI) tag is granted, Haleem makers outside Hyderabad will not be able to sell their product as Hyderabadi Haleem and even those within the city can claim the GI tag only if they meet the quality standards.
"We are hopeful of getting the GI tag before the end of this Ramadan as we have qualified for the same," said S Ravi, patent manager and Intellectual Property consultant of Adhikari IP Consultants.
According to Ravi, who filed the application on behalf of the Haleem Makers' Association of Hyderabad, the GI Registry of India office in Chennai carried an advertisement in its journal calling for objections, if any.
"Since no objections were filed during the given time which ended August 29 we have qualified for the GI tag," said Ravi.
The GI tag is granted under GI Act 1999 to protect traditional products. It is different from trade mark which is granted to individual companies.
The consultant said the members of Haleem Makers' Association or any other Haleem maker in Hyderabad can claim GI tag only if they fulfill the quality requirements.
"There are six quality measures right from procurement of the ingredients to the 12-hour cooking process," he pointed out.
It can be called Hyderabadi Haleem only if the maker follows the prescribed standards. "For example, it has to be goat meat, cooked in pure ghee and the cooking has to be done over firewood for 12 hours. You can't cook on gas and claim the GI tag," said association president Mohammed Abdul Majeed.
Majeed, whose Pista House food joint is the largest Haleem maker in Hyderabad, hopes that the GI tag would help protect the popular dish. "We filed for GI tag as we felt the need to check the misuse of the name Hyderabadi Haleem. People in other places are making the dish in this name without even following the basic quality standards," said Majeed.
The association presently has only 15 members but Majeed hopes that many more would join once they understand the importance of the GI tag.
"It is very difficult to make other Haleem makers understand its importance," said Majeed, who has 246 outlets in Hyderabad selling the mouth-watering dish.
Pista House this year tied up with leading transport company Gati to make Haleem available in all major cities in India and even in the Gulf countries.
Haleem, with ghee, meat and wheat flour as its main ingredients, is as popular in Hyderabad as the famous Biryani. For many, Ramadan is incomplete without Haleem. Even the non-Muslims relish it at thousands of hotels and eateries across the city.
It is estimated that during Ramadan, the eateries in Hyderabad sell Haleem worth Rs.one billion. The dish is available in a number of varieties like beef, mutton, chicken and dry fruits with different other ingredients. There is also a vegetarian Haleem.
Available in a price range from Rs.35 to Rs.80 per plate, Haleem is preferred by Muslims to break roza
or the traditional dawn-to-dusk fast. In the centuries-old markets around the historic Charminar and in the rest of the city, the tandoor
(brick kiln) in front of every hotel is a common sight during the holy month.
Chefs and their assistants stand for hours around the huge cauldrons placed on the kilns to prepare the dish through a painstaking process.
Originally an Arabic dish, made of meat, wheat flour, spices and ghee, it is said to have come to Hyderabad during the Mughal period via Iran and Afghanistan.
Irani Haleem, made by dozens of Irani restaurants here, stands out in its taste and is claimed to be the real Haleem by its makers.