Whatever ‘mana Hyderabadis’ might say or claim ’bout haleem being originally from Hyderabad. First of all, that’s not true. Haleem was brought into the city by the Yemeni Arabs part of the Nizam’s army. Secondly, it wasn’t the original Hyderabadis, but the Iranis who came to the city some 70 odd years ago, who popularised haleem as a commercial entity. Most of ‘em Iranis came from Bombay ‘n some from Surat. They came into the country from Iran, to escape the big famine there. Many of ‘em came without money or too many belongings. But were enterprising businessmen. Quite a few of ‘em set up small cafes selling tea ‘n snacks. One of the highlights of breakfast in these cafes was the Persian dish, haleem. I’ve explained the origin of this dish in Hyderabad in another post. Slowly, because of the heavy nature of this dish ‘n the sheer time ‘n effort taken to produce it. It started to lose favour as a daily meal ‘n over the years, became associated with the fasting month of Ramzan. In which one does need a heavy dose of calories after a full day of fasting. During Ramzan, you’ll find haleem in every nook ‘n corner of Hyderabad. Unfortunately, most of the haleem’s poorly made. People now substitute the process of dehusking, soaking ‘n pounding the wheat; with ready made semolina. The taste of this ‘jhatka’ haleem’s just not the same. It’s sad, but that’s how it is. But a few places do make haleem the classic Irani way. And these stand out from the rest. One of these shining stars is Cafe 555 Hyderabad.
Cafe 555 Hyderabad
555 was established in 1988 in it’s current location at Masab tank. Though their boards claim since 1952, that’s not the age of ‘brand 555′. Hmmm! The current owner, an Irani gentleman by the name Ali Raza Jokha set it up ‘n runs the place. His grandfather was associated with Hotel Madina. One of the rockstar cafes/restaurants of Old City Hyderabad. The current 555 haleem recipe comes from there. Aha! The original stuff. My my!
The haleem at 555 is nothing short of spectacular. It’s recipe calls for an interesting blend of spices. Elaichi, shahi jeera, cinnamon, peppercorn, cloves, rose petal, pista, almonds, mix of lentils, rice ‘n soup made from mutton bones. Ali Raza also let out his secret that the meat/wheat ratio has to be 1/4. He says that most places use more wheat to save money. And hence, don’t taste that great. Also, 555 puts loads ‘n loads of saffron in their haleem. Turmeric’s a big no-no when it comes to haleem. None of the classic haleem places add turmeric. It’s actually pretty easy to figure out the turmeric bit. Classic haleem’s pink-ish in colour. The moment you see yellow; that’s a dirty fellow.
I really admire Ali for letting out the special ingredients that 555 uses for it’s haleem. Only a supremely confident restaurant owner does this. One whose absolutely confident that he’s the master of his trade ‘n copiers can just copy. They can’t put in the same level of detailing, attention ‘n care that Ali Raza would put in his haleem. A rare breed indeed.
Ali Reza Jokha describes the secret to 555 haleem on video
Details of the place
Address – Maheshwari complex, Masab tank, Hyderabad. You’ve to take the first left after crossing the Masab tank flyover from below, when coming from Nampally side ‘n going towards Banjara hills.
Timings – 6 am to 1030 pm. During Ramzan, the haleem’s available from 530 pm to 10 pm or till stocks last. Also, I think it’s worthwhile going to Cafe 555 only during Ramzan, Though they’re open throughout the year and serve decent Irani chai, but the rest of the food’s nothing spectacular. But during Ramzan, Cafe 555 Hyderabad shines like a star, with its superbly crafted haleem.
Phone number – +91-40-64555535
Pricing – The regular haleem’s priced at Rs.100 ‘n the special haleem at Rs.180. They also do bulk packing at discounted rates.
Location on Google maps
About Chowder Singh’s local food guide
This guide has references to Chowder Singh’s favourite street ‘n local food in Hyderabad and offbeat eating places. Along with original photos ‘n location on Google maps. Kindly note that Chowder Singh pays for all his meals. There are no listings against freebies or payment. And absolutely no going around looking for free haleem. If you’ve been to or have feedback on Cafe 555 Hyderabad. Please do share with us. Either in the comments section below. Or please email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please remember that the pricing of dishes that I’ve mentioned, are when I’ve visited. They might change over a period of time. I’ve included these as a general guideline. And, please also consider that I write mostly about street food. I try ‘n write only about those places, which not just serve good food, but seem to maintain good hygiene practices. But hygiene’s a subjective issue. Especially when it comes to street food. One person’s delight could be another’s disgust. There’s no way I can go ‘n test the water or food at each place for salmonella everyday. Please take your own call when you go to these places. You know your stomach best.
Happy hunting Cafe 555 Hyderabad ‘n chow-chow!