Flavour with a Tag

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Now, the Hyderabadi Haleem has received a Geographical Indication tag to protect it from poorer imitations that stand to dilute a rich tradition—and make sneaky inroads into a Rs 100 crore cottage industry.

Hyderabadi Haleem, the delicious dish unique to its namesake city, has received a Geographical Indication tag as recognition of its uniqueness and to thwart the production of poorer quality substitutes riding on its coat-tails. The GI tag, incidentally,  is granted under the GI Act of 1999 to protect traditional products from fakes.

Recently, a number of uniquely Indian products, such as Goa’s distilled brew Fenny, Darjeeling tea, the Tirupati temple’s laddu, Basmati rice and Mysore silk have received the GI tag, prompting the haleem makers to apply for the tag themselves and join the exclusive club.

The GI tag ensures that haleem makers outside Hyderabad will not be able to sell their product as Hyderabadi Haleem, and even those within the city can claim the tag only if they meet the high quality standards of the Hyderabadi dish.

“There are six quality measures right from procurement of the ingredients to the 12-hour cooking on slow firewood,” says MA Majeed, president of the Haleem Makers’ Association. “The meat has to be that of goat, cooked in pure ghee over a slow fire fuelled by firewood for several hours. They can’t cook pre-made lumps of haleem on an LPG gas stove and claim the GI tag,” he says.

Majeed says the association filed for the GI patent to stop misuse of the name Hyderabadi Haleem by those who had no right to it. Following a series of 

meetings and stringent inspections spread over a year, PH Kurian, the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trade Marks and Registrar of Geographical Indications, handed over the GI certificate to Majeed on 2 September.

So, what is this unique dish? Haleem was originally a Persian dish, introduced to Hyderabadi nawabs by the nobles who gave their daughters in marriage to the Nizam’s line. The dish evolved as Hyderabadi Haleem, different from other cuisines for two reasons: for its use of specific spices unique to Hyderabadi cuisine, and as the Nizam’s army’s preferred preparation to break their evening fast with.

Today, Hyderabadi Haleem has emerged as a Rs 100 crore cottage industry, providing employment to nearly 15,000 people and with 5,000 kitchen units, according to Majeed. On average, the cost of a plate of haleem is between Rs 30 and Rs 40, a reasonable price for a sumptuous meal. At Rs 25 extra, you can have it couriered to your doorstep. 

According to the industry association, last year they sold almost 200 tonnes of haleem during the Ramazan period, including 50 tonnes that was exported. Majeed says that this year, the cost of haleem has gone up by Rs 30 per kg, due to soaring mutton prices. But despite the higher prices, they expect to make and sell 250 tonnes. Apart from India, Hyderabadi Haleem is in great demand in South-East Asia, South Africa, Europe and the US.