|Shahi Mutton Haleem|
I grew up eating the biryani from Shiraz, and as soon as I hit college, the Haleem would be a staple after college during the auspicious period of Ramadan. It was here I would see the huge handis of haleem serving hundreds of people every day. So, when I found out that they are serving different types of haleem, imagine my happiness. I had a list of posts about haleem eating last year, and I intend to put up a few this year as well.
|Best Chicken Kabab Kolkata|
What exactly is haleem? Well, it is a mixture of broken wheat, meat, lentils and spices – cooked together till everything sort of melts and becomes homogeneous. I have had it from different places around India, and I have to say, Kolkata’s version is different. The one made here is runny, and soupier than the Hyderabadi version, which is thicker, with a higher ratio of wheat to meat, and topped with fried onions, lemon juice and herbs. The Kolkata version veers more towards the Nihari, and is topped with herbs, chopped chillies, and lemon juice. I love both, and often miss the Haleem at Cafe Bahar or Pista House from Hyderabad (I hear Pista House now delivers to Kolkata, and their website has crashed, so I cannot confirm the news).
|Atiqur Rahman, Shiraz Golden Restaurant|
I spoke to Mr. Atiqur Rahman, one of the owners of Shiraz Golden Restaurant, who spoke about the festival. Technically, the haleem made here is a version suited to Kolkata’s humidity, and although it is spicy, it is more soupy, because that is more suited to the climate here. The haleem has many fans – people come all the way from the outskirts of the city to sample it, and take it away. When I stood outside, I saw the brisk business the restaurant made – cans and pots were filled and taken away steadily.
|Chef who makes haleem at Shiraz Golden Restaurant|
The chef who is an expert in making Haleem is soft-spoken, and he says very little. The signature mutton shahi haleem here contains a series of secret spices, and a little peppery after taste. The key here is the cooking time, which is a long and tedious process, and must be overseen through the night and the better part of the day.
|Shiraz Golden Restaurant Haleem|
The Shahi Gosht Haleem is their old favourite – Shiraz has been serving this for a long time, and the thick, peppery soup, with lentils and wheat cooked with chunks of meat overnight make sure that every scrap of flavour from the meat is rendered out. A generous layer of fat floats on top and when serving, the server puts some of it on top, because what’s life without a bit of golden fat on top? They also have a chicken version
I tried the Hyderabadi style haleem, which was more like a paste, but when compared to a place like Pista House, the texture is still MUCH more runny here. But the taste is not dissimilar, and the use of wheat is considerably higher, lending the mixture an almost khichda-like texture, which is a good thing for me. It is topped with a generous helping of fried onions, herbs and a slice of lime before serving.
|Eat Hyderabadi Haleem in Kolkata|
I particularly like the Afghani Haleem, which consists of little miniature koftas, which is cooked with the haleem. The koftas are soft, and they retain their shape perfectly. This style is entirely boneless, and those who do not like getting pieces of bone in their haleem, this is for them.
|Afghani Haleem Kolkata|
The Irani style of Haleem is quite nice – boneless meat is added, rather than smaller pieces, and this is spicier than the rest. The meat melts on your tongue, and the soup is thick and rich. This time, Shiraz is running an offer of providing a bottle of coke to the people who are getting two portions of haleem as takeaway, and those who are sitting down to relish their dish will be served a 200 ml. coke on the table, as part of their meal. They will be serving haleem between 3-6 pm until Eid, so go then, otherwise, you won’t get it.
|Irani Style Haleem Kolkata|
But well, naturally, why miss out on the Mutton Biryani from Shiraz? According to me, this place makes one of the top places for biryani in Kolkata, and although the mutton was not as soft as I would want it to be, the potato and the rice were wonderful and soft. The addition of egg to their special mutton biryani is recent, but as I am a major fan of eggs, I don’t mind.
|Shiraz Mutton Biryani Kolkata|
Ah, the vision! How it taketh me!
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to Shiraz Golden Restaurant to sample the special Haleem menu by the management.