Casting a gloom over the festive season of Ramzan, Hyderabadis will have to forgo their yearly ritual of relishing the lip-smacking dish of haleem this year, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Haleem Makers’ Association, an association of haleem making hotels and food joints in Hyderabad, has taken a unanimous decision not to prepare the extremely popular dish to contain the spread of the disease.

The decision was made on Monday after a discussion with members of the Association.

Speaking to #KhabarLive, MA Majeed, Managing Director of Pista House, one of the world’s leading haleem sellers, said, “The decision was unanimous. It was taken keeping in mind the well-being of the public.”

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The Haleem Makers’ Association has 400 members belonging to different hotels and food outlets.

“Selling haleem during the crisis is a huge risk, we don’t know who is infected and who is not. Let’s first overcome the crisis,” Majeed said.

Haleem is a stew-like dish made from ground meat (mutton, chicken or beef), wheat, lentils, ghee, ginger-garlic paste, and turmeric. Spices like cumin seeds, caraway seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, etc. along with dry fruits such as pista, cashew, fig, and almonds are added, which makes the dish aromatic.

While pointing out that maintaining physical distance was not possible during the preparation of haleem, the Pista House MD also said it might make people throng to outlets, and physical distancing – a precaution to avoid the spread of the infectious disease – may go for a toss.

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“Prevention is necessary, and everyone has to contribute to putting an end to the disease,” Majeed said.

“What Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said is right, we can afford to lose money but we can’t afford to lose a life. We can make money later, at this hour survival is important,” he added.

Though there was uncertainty over how they would procure meat and other items essential for the preparation of haleem, Pista House was earlier considering selling haleem online. However, the government’s decision to remove food delivery services like Swiggy and Zomato from the ‘essential services’ list meant that online sales too was out of the question.

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On Sunday, the government had banned Swiggy and Zomato after a city Swiggy delivery executive tested positive for COVID-19.

Every year during the Ramzan season, food walks would be held in the city to offer people a taste of the local cuisine, haleem featuring prominently on the list. A contest to adjudge the best haleem is also usually held. Haleem making also provides employment opportunities to many who help in cooking and sales. #KhabarLive