As Muharram approaches, Hyderabadis make a beeline for the traditional dum-ka-roat
Through the glass door at Subhan Bakery in Hyderabad, the queue at the counter is clearly visible. Each customer has Subhan’s red carry bag, some with jumbo-sized ones. Once the queue thins, we step in, following the social distancing norm. My curiosity made me hang around the counter casually, to catch a glimpse of what was in those jumbo bags. To my surprise, they were packed with the Hyderabadi dum-ka-roat.
Dum-ka-roat is a special cookie, almost the size of a tea saucer, made with a combination of flour, semolina, sugar and nuts — with a hint of nutmeg and copious amounts of ghee. Dum-ka-roat is a special dish during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
Syed Irfan who has been running Subhan Bakery along with brother Syed Imran, says, “This queue is nothing in comparison to what we handled in the pre-COVID-19 days. Even now, our loyal customers have requested us to deliver the dum-ka-roat to their home.”
He claims their recipe for the Hyderabadi dum-ka-roat remains the most authentic. Irfan bhai (as he is fondly addressed) offers me a warm dum-ka-roat, fresh from the oven, to taste. The thin crust gives a warm waft of ghee-roasted semolina and nuts. The flavour of nutmeg is mild, yet it lingers on the palate for a few minutes after the first bite. “Dum-ka-roat is a cookie with a religious significance. So we have taken care not to dilute the original recipe. We believe in a balance of taste and ingredients. If one overpowers the other, it will destroy our USP.”
Faraaz Farshori, Hyderabad-based entrepreneur says, “It is said the dum-ka-roat was made to last long with rich ingredients to provide nutrition to children and families during the battle of Karbala. Over the years, the size has shrunk and ingredients have gone through a slight change depending on what is available locally.”
The dum-ka-roat is made in many bakeries across the city, but most people throng to Karachi Bakery and Pista House apart from ordering or buying from Subhan.
Faraaz mentions informs, “Demand for dum ka-roat peaks on Dus Muharram which marks the ‘Youm-e-Ashoora’. On this day the traditional ‘’Bibi-ka-Alam’ procession is taken out on an elephant from Bibi–a-Alawa in Dabeerpura to Chaderghat. The seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, is believed to have offered the dum-ka-roat to the ‘Nala-e-Mubarak’ Alam near Charminar, for the safety and well-being of his grandson, Mukarram Jah Bahadur. This practise continues till date and people who take a vow for the safety of their wards break the dum-ka-roat on the Alam and distribute it to others.”
This year, COVID-19 has affected Muharram at varied levels. Mohammed Abdul Majeed owner of Pista House says, “There is a visible decline in demand for dum-ka-roat because people are avoiding visiting each other. Dum-ka-roat is usually exchanged or given to well-wishers during Muharram. That has come down this year.”
To make gifting and sharing dum-ka-roats easy and safe, popular bakeries have packed them in neat takeaway boxes of 1 kilogram and 500 grams. Prices start at ₹ 330 for 500 grams. They can be stored upto 3 months.
One can also enjoy the dum-ka-roat with chai at Niloufer, Nimrah and Red Rose cafes in the city.