TUO ZAAFI WITH AYOYO SOUP
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What: Hearty, nourishing haleem, a delicious meat stew, is not really a Delhi food—it has Persian roots, is an official food in Hyderabad, and is eaten in plenty of other parts of South Asia and the Middle East, particularly by Muslims to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. But as Delhi is a North Indian mish-mash of different ethnic groups and religions, including several prominent enclaves of Muslims (accounting for about 12 percent of the total population), it’s no surprise that haleem is beloved here—during Ramadan and beyond. It’s typically a slow-cooked, stick-to-your-guts gruel-like stew made with shredded or mashed boneless meat (often mutton/goat or buffalo), wheat, barley, lentils, and spices.
Where: Our haleem is from Purani Dilli (2698-3371; 371 Main Rd., Zakir Nagar, Okhla, Jamia Nagar, map), a terrific Mughlai restaurant inside mazelike Zakir Nagar, a Muslim area not far from New Friends Colony in South Delhi. It’s one of the few places in Delhi where you can find haleem year-round, not exclusively during Ramadan.
When: Daily, 11am-11pm
Order: Most definitely get the mutton haleem here (135/270 rupees for half/full portion), and a half portion is likely all you’ll need. It has such a thick, gooey texture—definitely a bit strange at first to a foreign palate—but it's so delicious you’ll finish the bowl while trying to figure it out. Here the haleem comes topped with lots of fried onions and green chilies, letting you make it as crunchy and spicy as you’d like it to be. Other good things to consider at this restaurant are the chicken changezi, chicken ishtu, mutton nihari, and the creamy-sweet phirni.
Alternatively: This article from Hindustan Times raves about a haleem vendor in Old Delhi called Hotel Mustafa, or Hyderbadi Dum Biryani (off Matia Mahal, in Haveli Azam Khan, opposite the eatery called Shabrati, approximate map). Or you can hope for an invite to a Muslim home!
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