For an outsider, Hyderabad food is equal to amazing Biryani! But then it’s only until you have had the Best Haleems in Hyderabad. My first trip to Hyderabad was in 2010 and a friend got me biryani from ‘Srikanya, Punjagutta’, more like an Andhra Biryani, but I loved it! Then on my last day, I went to Paradise (back then it was still kick ass for Biryani) and fell in love. That love for biryani continued and many things were added along the way and I just couldn’t get enough of Hyderabad food. I would do weekend trips every month just to load up on my quote of biryani and other things. I thought this is the highest my love for Hyderabadi food would go to, but I couldn’t have been more wrong…
One such trip in 2011, and it was Ramzan time. I had already had my share of biryani, kebabs, faloodas, dahi vada, etc. and was all set to catch a train from Secunderabad station. I had seen so many signs of this one dish being served, but dint try it. Then waiting outside, I saw that board again “Haleem” at Alpha Hotel and I thought let me try it out. As he poured it in the bowl I thought to myself, “damn that looks like khichdi, I can’t eat that” but I went ahead and took a bite. It felt like a spicier and wetter version of upma. I could barely taste any meat and with every spoonful, I liked it even lesser. After some 10 spoons, I couldn’t take it anymore and left it like that. Went to my train and left for Pune. Some 1hr later, there was this sudden surge in craving. The taste of that thing sunk in. The consistency had clouded my judgement on its taste and now I wanted it again, I couldn’t believe I was craving Haleem!
After reaching Pune, first thing I did was call my friends and ask for Best Haleems in Hyderabad. I got it about 5 times that season and loved it more and more. This love continued from then on and Ramzan trips meant more of Haleem in Hyderabad. Then last year I moved to Hyderabad for work and come Ramzan, I knew I was gonna go crazy with the food. I set a target of having 20 Best Haleems in Hyderabad during one Ramzan and went about doing that with full dedication.
It was easy to start with, going at about 1 Haleem/day. Being in Kondapur, I would travel all across the city in the evenings. Some mention of a new place on any foodie’s page and I wanted to go have it. The last week was the toughest, when the saturation began to kick in. Last 5 days with 3 more to go, I was out of options and nauseated by Haleem. But I managed to pull all my strength together and went for it. Last one was at Bawarchi, and on the 3rd bite I knew I couldn’t take even a bite more of Haleem till next year. But I had achieved my goal and I was loaded up with enough Haleem memories to last 1 year!!
So now that Haleem has already started again from last Sunday, I thought of sharing my journey from last year. If you are going to eat about 10-15 of the Best Haleems in Hyderabad, it better be from the good places than wasting appetite and time on the okay-type ones.
So Below My List of 20 Best Haleems in Hyderabad In No Specific Order –
- Sarvi, Banjara Hills
The first runners up last year for Best Haleems in Hyderabad category, deserves it totally. They serve an Irani version of Haleem, which is high on flavour and low on spice. The special version comes with cashews, mayo and an egg on top. One of the easiest ones on the palette and leaves you wanting more given the subtle flavours which will tug you to go back.
- Café 555, Tank bund road
This one is a local favourite. Given the spicy levels and the add-ons, it’s a huge hit every year. You can add chicken 65, zabaan and shorba along with the usual ghee, fried onion, lemon and mint. Too spicy for my liking though, but the chai after the Haleem makes it all fall into place.
- Shah Ghouse, Tolichowki
Even though many people said it was off its ace game this time, it still went on to win the first prize for Best Haleems in Hyderabad. Out of all the ones, it was for sure top-3 for me too. It’s crowded, it’s maddening, chaotic and yet it works. The Haleem is smooth and flavours hit hard. Bones were plenty, but then it’s all forgotten fast. The toppings here are a mess and it’s up to your luck as to how much you get. I always imagine, how amazing would they make it if they did it calmly.
- Pista House, Everywhere!
They have put Haleem on the world map and if that wasn’t enough, you can even find it on almost every chowk in Hyderabad. They came 3rd on the Best Haleems in Hyderabad list and people still doubt that. Their LED work was a stand out last year with the amazing patterns and designs. It’s more like the comforting go-to Haleem of Hyderabad, which you know will be available easily. They definitely sell the most, I doubt if it’s the best though! Keep an eye open for guys in fluorescent t-shirt, wave out and you shall have a Pista House Haleem in your hand.
- Mandar, Tolichowki
Everywhere online, I kept coming across this name. It was like it called me out to come and have the Haleem. And it sure did live up to the hype. Simple and beautiful Haleem with right consistency, less bones and packed a punch. There’s a sense of calm when they serve it and it shows in the final thing too. The owner standing at the door told me very confidently that this is the best Haleem in this area! I almost agree to that!
- Y2K, Punjagutta
I was actually going to Meridian for Haleem, but they dint have any, so decided on trying out Y2K. Just a small setup in the open and no fancy lights. But the moment he poured it out into the bowl and topped it with ghee, I knew it would be nice. Color was perfect and the ghee was coming across nicely. The guy even came to ask if it was good. Very less bones and very filling.
- Al Saba, Telecom Nagar, Gachibowli
Starting off to find Haleem in this part of the town was tough, because all main ones started after Banjara hills. Heard about Al Saba and went off there one evening. It dint blow me away or something, but did the trick and I could tick off another Haleem place. It was very high on cinnamon the day I went, but then given the number of people thronging the place, I think it was better on the other days.
- Hitech Bawarchi, Madhapur
Sometimes you take one just for the team, this was one of those. I dint want to go to the city side so decided to try this one, just to tick it off. But then it wasn’t a good sight and the taste was even worse. I could barely take 5 bites and I was done. I did have it again at a friend’s place and was better that time, but can be missed.
- Chicken Haleem, Dargha Road number 3, Banjara Hills
This one was the biggest surprise. First it was from a place that I hadn’t even heard about and second it was chicken Haleem! But then my friend doesn’t eat mutton so had to take it. But first bite and I was like WTF, how has this been hidden for so long. It was packed with meat and flavours. Homemade ghee and generous amount of onions and mint on top. Surprisingly, this would be in the top-5 for last season. It was the first one in that lane last year, not sure if he will be back this year.
- Zaika-e-Ramzan, Pillar no.47
Definitely the most talked about place last season. So much food under one roof, a bike as prize every day and such good word of mouth, all made this place a huge hit. The Haleem was good and topped with a lot of cashews. I got to stir the Haleem here, hence it holds a soft corner in my list. The only place where Haleem was a starter and then the food just never stopped. Walking out of that place was a task given the amount of food I ate.
- N-District, Jubilee Hills
A place like that coming up with Haleem was a surprise and also it being in this part of town was good news. I had heard amazing things about it and went in to get some. The little pricey, but the taste, meaty-ness, toppings and flavour come together beautifully. I really wanted to try it out again, but just couldn’t squeeze it in again.
- Café Bahar, Basheerbagh
One of the Big-5 for Best Haleems in Hyderabad given how revered it is in the Haleem and Biryani league. The only ones to advertise on the back of buses, and scream free Pepsi and for sure the lowest price for Haleem. Again a place which is really crowded and you have to try hard to get a bowl. But once you get that, it all falls into place. Does justice to the hype and made my 26km ride worth it. Bones are plenty, but after so many Haleems, I was in it just for the taste and not to fill up.
- Angaara, Kondapur
With work catching up, and getting sick of the traffic in city side, I had to look for options around. Went to Angaara for some grilled chicken, when the owner said try our Haleem, it’s homemade and would beat a lot of others. I gave in to his confidence and took one. Not too spicy and very smooth, minimum bones but it still lacked some zing.
- Shadab, Old City
The holiest of them all, the big daddy, the undisputed champion of Hyderabad food scene. It’s like they can’t put a foot wrong when it comes to food. Open all night and keeps doling out bowls of Haleem and paya. The Haleem there had been my favourite all these years, but that day I got a new batch and it missed the punch. The atmosphere, old city walk and the feel made up for the taste though. They don’t win awards for Best Haleems in Hyderabad maybe due to less visibility.
- Chef Inam, Road no, 12, Banjara Hills
Another one of those places, you least expect a good Haleem from. But a friend swore that this was the best he had that season so I had to try it out. Clashed with the Bahubali success party where I had Rana Daggubati waiting side by side for the Haleem. The Haleem was very filling and nice taste. A little deceiving in looks but good in bite. It would win one award for sure – Best Haleems in Hyderabad Organic category!
- Sultan, Lakdikapul
The best Debut award winner for Best Haleems in Hyderabad. It came in and swept everyone off their feet. People were going gaga over it everywhere. Topped with rose petals and perfect quantity, it sure was one of the best last year. Perfect in flavour and loaded with meat. Again one of my top-5 easily and lived up to all the hype around it. And that with their amazing chai, one of the best I had had in Hyderabad. But sadly it shut shop and now they have renamed it. Hope they will be serving Haleem this year also.
- Green Park, Ameerpet
Again one of the biggies for Best Haleems in Hyderabad. This was the one that could have gotten away easily. I could just never get there. I got there at 11:30pm only to be told that it’s over and now will be served in their midnight buffet. But I wanted just the Haleem, requested them and got a serving out somehow. The least quantity of all the places for sure. But their onions were the best of the lot. A little bony and a tad bit high in flavour, not the nice kind.
- Bombay Hotel, Rani Gunj signal
The amount of people here was mind boggling. I had already had 2 Haleems that day but then I had to try it out with people almost falling over each other. Took my token and went in the queue. When I saw bowls going out, I knew this was the most unappetizing looking of the lot for sure. Almost like a slurry in off brown colour. The consistency was total amiss. Taste wise also lacked everything. So if there had to be a least favourite, it would be this one.
- Astoria, RTC x roads
I had gone for Bawarchi for the Best Haleems in Hyderabad, but then it was already shut for the day. The Haleem was sold out and that was a shock. So ended up at Astoria to have Haleem because I just couldn’t leave without a Haleem after coming so far. Again okay-types and nothing top notch about the Haleem, could just be a substitute for Bawarchi.
- Bawarchi, RTC x Roads
One of the Big-5 for Best Haleems in Hyderabad and the only place where I saw Haleem being out of stock so fast. I have heard from so many that it was amazing so I am gonna have to go with them and take their word. This was my last Haleem and by then I had lost my appetite for Haleem. This year I am gonna kick start the Haleem season with this one.
A few worth mentioning that I missed would be Golconda, Grand hotel, Sohail and plus a lot of beef Haleem places, since I hadn’t started eating beef then! Can’t wait to dig into all those this year!