Friday, March 24

Kolkata: Shutdown ease brings halim back on iftar menu

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Halim, a signature dish of Ramzan, which was unavailable for the first few days due to lockdown, has returned to the menu after many eateries have decided to sell it only through food delivery apps or takeaways following some lockdown concessions from the government earlier this week.

Nobody will be allowed to eat it sitting inside the eateries like previous years due to lockdown restrictions and social distancing norms.

Halim is a staple at iftars, a meal Muslims have after an entire day of fasting, but this year the traditional eateries decided not to sell it since all restaurants were shut to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Many Kolkatans who head to Muslim neighbourhoods to savour halim, a thick stew prepared with red meat, lentils, roghan and spices were disappointed at the unavailability of halim which is mostly sold during this period.

This has also dealt a blow to the local economy as many sellers would depend on huge crowds from various parts of Kolkata to assemble and eat halim and other Ramzan dishes.

New Aliah Hotel on Bentinck Street, famous for its mutton and chicken varieties, has started selling halim from Thursday. “The restaurant is shut. We are only selling halim which one can order either through food delivery apps or take away as parcels. Nobody can sit inside and eat. Halim is available between 12 noon and 6pm,” said Mohammad Abubaqar, manager at New Aliah Hotel.

At Shiraz Golden Restaurant, halim is available between 1pm and 6pm. “We are serving delicious halim through online food aggregators”, said Ishtiaque Ahmad, partner, Shiraz Golden Restaurant. Chicken haleem costs Rs 225 and mutton haleem costs Rs 250.

Zam Zam outlets in Park Circus and Beniapukur are selling halim through food apps only. “We are accepting the order between 3pm and 4pm every day. One can either order through food delivery apps or collect parcel from the outlet,” said Mohamad Arshad, manager.

For Muslims across the globe, Ramzan is a social and spiritual high point and a period to focus on fasting, prayers and doing charity.

But the coronavirus pandemic has transformed this holy month across the world, clearing out mosques, cancelling mass prayers and forcing people to withdraw from public places.

Halim, which is only sold during the month of Ramzan and its appeal transcends communities, was also not available disappointing a big population of Kolkata. But as the state announced a few relaxations last week, many outlets started home delivery of halim.

Saugata Sengupta, who is in the business of book binding in Keshab Chandra Street near College Street, has already ordered halim from New Aliah. “I am a foodie and wait for halim throughout the year. This year I was disappointed when I heard none of the famous outlets will be selling it. But I was overjoyed when one of the food delivery apps showed that New Aliah is making halim and I could order,” said Sengupta.


Source: Times of India

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