Hyderabad is not only famous for its pearls and Sherwani; Kebabs and Keema; and Biryani and Haleem; during the Islamic month of Muharram it is the season for Dum Ke Roat, a sweet baked round cookie, made of wheat flour, sooji (semolina), vegetable oils, sugar, honey, clarified butter and dry fruits Even now, though some make their Roat at homes, hundreds of people flock to famous eateries like Subhan Bakery, Karachi, Pista House, Niloufer to feast on this baked delicacy.
Though the 10th day of Muharram is a day of mourning in memory of Prophet Mohammad’s grandsons Hassan and Hussain, tradition has it that in the city people of all faiths indulge in the sweet-baked treat on and around this day.
According to Subhan Bakery’s owner Syed Irfan, the outlet started selling Dum-ka-Roat in 1971. Hundreds flock to the store every day to feast on the seasonal flavour. Irfan says that they use pure ghee for the preparation and the Roat contains milk, khoya, almonds, cashew nuts, Zafran (Saffron), and raisins.
Pista House Hyderabad, famous for its haleem, biryani, zafrani chai, lip-smacking snacks, baked delicacies, and more, has recently introduced ‘Zafrani Dum Ke Roat’ to its menu. The cookie which is baked to a golden brown is infused with saffron and topped with dry fruits.
The baking involves a fine balance between time, temperature, and ingredients. The duration of baking is what lends the brownish colour, while making it crunchy and soft. For added flavour it is decked with dry fruits such as almonds, cashew nuts, pista, and saffron. But getting all these in the right proportion is the most important aspect.
The duration of baking is what lends that brownish look while making it crunchy from the outside and soft within. What’s more, Roat is made of pure ghee and is 100 percent vegetarian.
While this sweet-baked treat is relished by people throughout the year, the demand peaks on Tenth Muharram which marks the ‘Youm-e-Ashoora’. On that day, the traditional ‘Bibi-ka-Alam’ procession is taken out on an elephant from Bibi–a-Alawa in Dabeerpura to Chaderghat says Omar a businessman from the Old City.
The delicacy that continues to be treasured in the by lanes of Old city and new city, as well as an age-old recipe Culturally cookies, have been part of every snack in Hyderabad be it the Osmania biscuit or the Chand biscuit or even the Nan khatai but Dum ke Roat stands out for its richness, quality and consumption as part of Hyderabad’s tradition.
It has a symbolic significance with the month of Muharram. Dum ke Roat is the hottest confectionery during Muharram, the month of mourning for the Shias. Religious significance apart, people of all faiths eagerly wait to relish this seasonal delicacy. But this time round, Roat lovers have to shell down slightly more to enjoy the crusty fare.
The seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, is believed to have offered Roat to the ‘Nala-e-Mubarak’ Alam near Charminar for the safety and well-being of his grandson, Mukarram Jah Bahadur. This practice continues to date and people who take a vow for the safety of their wards break the Roat on the Alam and distribute it to others. A wide range of items goes into the making of Roat.
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In earlier times, most Hyderabadis used to prepare dough at home and would take it to nearby bakeries to bake it in the ovens. But today it is readily available at the bakeries and so people flock to the shops to buy this rich delicacy which of course has become expensive as the cost of ingredients has gone up.