Kozi Haleem: The Haleem Life Chose Me
When life serves you cold, sad and lonely winter nights. it is best to combat them with warm food. At least, that is the only way I know how to exorcize my winter demons. Smoking also helps, I’ve heard. However, I would advise against it. For me, the connection between winters and Kozi Haleem is one that I eye with superstition.
Every year, come winter, I rejoice over the infinite amounts of Kozi Haleem that I will inevitably consume. Why the superstition? Because I do not choose to eat Kozi Haleem, it is almost by design. It is as if the gods of winter beckon me to the doors of this famed eatery day after day.
A Winter-Feuled Expedition
As it happened, yesterday evening, the weather was cold and dark both inside and outside. I ventured out for a cup of tea to warm me up but it failed to do the trick. As I was heading back home, with the unmistakable gait of a dejected lover, I felt the urge to return to my favorite mistress. Kozi Haleem.
I redirected myself towards the Secretariat near Anarkali, where the restaurant is located. It is a humble place and may provoke your sophisticated concerns if you are a prude regarding cleanliness. Besides, the traffic outside happens to be as obnoxious as the American President at all hours of the day.
As usual, the bistro was packed like a mosque for Friday prayers. Men moved in and out without respite. I could empathize with the spark that had brought them on the historic cold evening. Am I exaggerating it all too much? Bear with me because I cannot help it. I enjoy Haleem too much and it will be disloyal of me not to give it its due. Haleem, especially Kozi Haleem is the One. Phajja Siri Paaye did not impress me enough. Amritsari Hareesa was a farcical debacle. But Kozi Haleem has never let me down.
Anyways, I managed to get myself a seat and ordered a plate of Chicken Haleem. While the waiters rushed around in panic, I squeezed half-moon lemons into my mouth, shivering with excitement with the visceral thought of each one. Then, they brought me a plate of Haleem and oil-soaked naans. The Haleem looked unappealing, as usual, but I did not judge this book by its cover. I already knew what gastric secrets were hidden therein. The hot oil-drenched naan gave off an emotional fragrance.
Eating Haleem at Kozi is quite a ritual. You just do not start eating the Haleem. No. First, squeeze a half-dozen lemons into the plate to up the flavor a bit further. Then, sprinkle it all over with dried onions, strands of ginger root and parsley. Perhaps, they add psychedelic drugs to it. I would like to believe that, anyway. Then, I treated it with a pinch of salt as a final touching.
What happened after that cannot be explained in foolish words. I cannot stress enough how everyone needs to introduce Kozi Haleem into their life. The perfect texture, flavor, and temperature. Every time. There’s a reason why it is an intrinsic part of Lahori winters, at least for me. You’ll have to give it a go and find out more for yourself.