Flavours and scents of Ramzan


Sawdey road. Predominantly ghettoed street that starts after the curve around Mission Hospital ends. The names of shops here are mostly mere abbreviations or even terms. They range from GM Mechanics, Star Repair works to NMM Enterprises, and heavily guarded Lakshmi Gold and Bankers seeming like an odd man out, the road has its own character, charisma and an aroma that’s distinct.

And yes, perhaps the lone bar on the road has partially downed its shutters, again seasonal.

The road that seems to work according to some unforeseen rhythm amidst self-originated chaos, changes into a different costume at the call for aazaan. The month of Ramzan adds varied character to the road, and its people. Day long fasting, and prayers later people – men – spill on to the streets drinking in the aroma of food, adding to the imagery that’s getting formed in the evening. Parts of the street is lined with high calorie, tasty food items – fried, baked, boiled, spicy, bland, munchy et al.
The apparels stalls will come in too, later during the month.

Haleem special
Hyderabadi Haleem stall on Sawdey road, set up by Hyderabad-based Syed Siqqidui, and Mysore’s own Shafiq Siddiqui and Rafeeq Ahmed Siddiqui, has visitors thronging to taste the goody.

The rich and piping hot Haleem prepared using meat, sooji and spices – strictly process driven and through a grueling schedule set by chef Sayyed Khaleel lasting over eight hours with three men engaged in the task – can keep the tummy from developing hunger pangs till the next meal. The man sitting on the stone slab which also houses a huge cauldron has a stove underneath.

His hands are busy scooping out the preparation to fill the measuring bowl and then onto boxes, laced with freshly chopped mint leaves, fried onion rings, cashews and desi ghee.

GI tag
Apart from Hyderabad, the food item that possesses GI (Geographic Indicator tag which forbids anyone else from replicating it) tag. Some give in to the commands of growling stomach and dig into it at the very stall, while some choose temporary restraint of temptation over hunger, and pack a few boxes home.

After the super-spicy Haleem, its time to move on to Khubani ka meetha. A transparent small box filled with mashed apricot, soaked and boiled in raspberry sauce, vanilla, sugar and almond paste is a heavenly treat.

Ramzan images don’t stop here. Even the ever busy Devaraja market makes way for small attractive shops that sell attar/ittar, scented oils extracted from jasmine, rose among others.

“They would last for two days, even after taking bath,” tells the shop keeper even as he generously applies them on the wrist of a curious onlooker.

Small mirrored units, lined with huge bottles filled with aromatic oils, and attractive container bottles waiting to be chosen by the buyer to carry his pick from the stall, sell anywhere between Rs 30 – Rs150. More upmarket stalls stock costlier goodies. As the season comes to a close with Eid Ul Fitr, Haleem will quietly disappear and the ittar stalls will go subdued with onions and capsicums adorning their space. Until next year, the images stay closeted in memories.

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