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Muharram 2022: Decoding Hyderabadi ‘Dum Ke Roat’

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Hyderabad, in all of its gluttonous glory, has several dishes that have formed its food culture. While some are as famous as the Dum Biryani, some are as simple and down-to-earth as the relished combination of Khatti Daal and Chawal. No matter what, every Hyderabadi has a distinct memory of one special dish that transcends childhood and sticks throughout their life. For many that memory is of Dum ke Roat which is associated with Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. 

Dum ke Roat is Hyderabad’s traditional cookie which packs copious amounts of love, warmth, and hugs into its fudgy and chewy goodness. It is made with the richness of flour, semolina, sugar, dry fruits, nutmeg, and lots and lots of ghee. 

History tells us that Hyderabad’s seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan once offered Dum ke Roat to ‘Nala-e-Mubarak’ Alam near Charminar during Muharram for the safety and well-being of his grandson, Mukarram Jah Bahadur. Following this, people started offering Roats at various ‘Alams’ installed during Muharram and this tradition continues to date. However, most Hyderabadis’ earliest memory of Roat is when they would prepare its dough at home and would take it to nearby bakeries to bake it in the ovens. 

In a conversation with Siasat.com, Syed Irfan, owner of Subhan Bakery, says, “We started selling Roat in 1971, prior to which people used to come to our bakery with homemade Roat dough and would ask us to bake it for them. This inspired us to rise above the usual bread, biscuits, and other baked goods.”

Located at Nampally, Subhan Bakery, a multi-generational business that started around 1948, boasts of selling authentic Hyderabadi Dum ke Roat. On any normal day during Muharram, masses of people throng the bakery to have a taste of the coveted cookie. 

Another bakery that has reached great heights within a short span of 25 years is Pista House. With branches all over the world, Pista House is famous for its Haleem. And now they have set foot in the Dum ke Roat business and recently introduced the cookie to their menu. Mohammed Abdul Moshi, managing director of Pista House, says, “We had introduced Dum ke Roat a long time ago, however, in the last 2 years we have received a great response on the taste and the demand has grown exponentially. Hence, we are now making it in more volumes.”

“We have also introduced premium gift packs for gifting purposes owing to the huge demand,” he further added.

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Subhan Bakery owes its popularity to its signature Roat and when asked what makes it special, Syed Irfan answered, “Yeh special isiliye hain kyunki humlog Asli Ghee use karte isme. Unlike other bakeries that only claim of using pure ghee but do not in reality. Furthermore, ours is a signature recipe of Roat comprising Milk, Khowa, Almonds, Cashew Nuts, Raisins, and Saffron. We developed this ideal combination of ingredients ourselves after a lot of tests and trials and people seem to like it a lot.”

Mohammed Abdul Mohsi says, “What sets our Dum ke Roat apart is the special ingredients we add to it. We use the usual Pure ghee, milk, and dry fruits, however, we also add hand-picked Zafran (Saffron) which makes it a hit among the people.”

Syed Irfan also elaborates on how the recipe of Roat developed over time, “Circa 100 years ago, women used to add sugar and extra ghee in the basic recipe of Roti (flatbread) to make it tastier which is how the name ‘Roat’ came to be. It was used as an offering to Alam. However, over time people wanted to make the recipe even better and started adding more and more ghee, making it difficult to be cooked on the stove. That is when they started baking it.”

Now, Dum ke Roat is one of the most enjoyed dishes in Hyderabad and can be found not only in Subhan Bakery and Pista House but in many bakeries across the city. However, most people like to buy it from famous eateries like Karachi Bakery, Rose Bakery, Niloufer, and Nimrah cafes which are known for their culinary expertise. 

While it is enjoyed all year round by some Hyderabadis, demand for Dum ke Roat peaks on Tenth Muharram which marks the ‘Youm-e-Ashoora’, a day on which the traditional ‘’Bibi-ka-Alam’ procession is taken out on an elephant from Bibia-Alawa in Dabeerpura to Chaderghat. 

Well, as the tenth Muharram hovers above Hyderabad, bakeries are now seeing people lining up to indulge in the famous Dum ke Roat, and rightly so.

Which is the best spot for Dum Ke Roat according to you in Hyderabad? Do share with us in the comments section below.

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