COVID Scare: Home Delivered Food Rules the Roost in Hyderabad

The COVID pandemic is now raging on for more than four months in India, and the spike in cases is showing no signs of abetting. A couple of months back, the scenario was not seeming so bad, it did not look that we possibly have to continue living a severely compromised lifestyle till early next year (this seems to be the thought process now, we do not know if this will prove to be an underestimate).

The Home Delivery Range from Once Upon a Time

The food lovers like me who eat out a lot have a huge problem in our hands. It may be prudent not to go out for dining in the restaurants as is being advised by the experts.  Stories about how at a restaurant in China, people sitting more than ten feet apart got infected by COVID due to circulation of air conditioners is making rounds. People sitting at home are receiving a huge dosage of information including misinformation forwarded by all and sundry. The net result has been that most people are not yet ready for dine-ins and some are ordering in food. Some friends have told me that they prefer restaurants with outside seating as chances of infections are less there. There is confusion all around, and people prefer to err on the safer side. Thus, restaurants may have a lot of trouble bringing back their dine-in customers in the coming months.

The Home SOP from Olive Bistro

Almost every other day, the people who see the pics on my feed ask me about the safety of ordering food home. My frank answer is I do not know. And like WHO, I do not want to make a different statement every week. But, whatever little I have read here and there, I believe that the risk of transmission from fomites or contaminated surfaces is significantly lower than direct infection. A contactless delivery further decreases the risk.

The Thali from Mercure KCP Hyderabad
The Delivered Thali from Mercure KCP Hyderabad

From people in the know, and from restaurants that deliver food, I have culled out a SOP (or standard operating procedure) to be followed at home for food which is delivered in. Thus, we transfer the ordered in food into our own containers and discard the containers in which the food has been sent. And we wash our hands twice during the process. Does it work? Again, I do not know. But what I know is that I cannot do without some variety in my food, and thus periodic food from outside of the home is a given for me. It may not be important for you, but it is important for me. If you feel it is not worth the risk, I respect your decision.

Packaging from The Grand Trunk Road with temperature recordings on it

The COVID scenario has brought the F&B business literally to its wit’s end. The established restaurants can hardly be even close to recovering its costs by just doing deliveries. The government also is extremely indifferent to the woes of the sector. Many of the restaurants still think that the brand needs to be kept alive even at a cost, and deliveries contribute to that. So delivery and takeaway seem to be the only significant source of revenue for them, though it is a pittance compared to the revenue earned earlier. However, for the consumer, the only silver lining is that we have quite a few innovative ideas going around, some with regional cuisines, and some which stress on their safety precautions, while some have excelled due to their brilliant packaging.

I have been receiving regular requests to suggest some good and hygienic places where food can be ordered home.  In the next few paragraphs, I am going to talk about some places in my city which show a promise in delivering a variety of different options from their kitchens.

Pork Ribs from Kodagu

A few home chefs and cloud kitchens in Hyderabad has really impressed me during this dark period. The first is a cloud kitchen called Kodagu. Coorgi food was not available in Hyderabad so far. Kodagu plugs this gap with a short menu. Apart from Pandi Curry, the signature dish from there, they also make some mean Pork Ribs and Green Chilli Pork. Thatte Idli, a favourite from Karnataka is available too.

I have already talked about Jashn-E-Dawat from Naaz Anjum’s Kitchen in a different post, which is getting good traction every weekend. You can read all about it here.

Boneless Chicken Biryani from Patiala Caterers

Patiala Caterers is a cloud kitchen brand run by Hemant Bahirwani, one of the acclaimed caterers in town. The Punjabi dishes here such as Kheema Masala are definitely worth a try. They make a good job of preparing Chindian (Indian Chinese) dishes too, such as Sliced Chilli Chicken and Szechuan Prawns.

A cloud kitchen in Kukatpally called Naaz Biryani (this is different from Anjum’s Kitchen) prepares a limited amount of biryani every day. The biryani cooked on firewood is quite different from the usual ones in terms of being quite flavourful.  For Andhra style Fry Piece Biryani, you can try the multiple ordering points of Biryanis & More.

Mango Cheesecake from The Hungry Patissiere

For cakes and savouries, you can try the cloud kitchen of The Hungry Patissiere. Started by a young alumni from Cordon Bleu Paris, the Quiches here are to die for. I had some great Mango Cheesecakes and artisan bread from here too.

The Waffle Co Special Waffle

From The Waffle Co, you can order their delicious waffles and shakes – The TWC Special or Blueberry Waffle are some which can be recommended.

The Gourmet Couch Package from ITC Kakatiya

Some initiatives in the restaurant space have also grabbed my attention. ITC group has “Gourmet Couch”, a complete dining experience at home where a complete dining experience is designed for your home. ITC Kakatiya has a signature menu with dishes from Kebabs and Kurries packed nicely in a box.  The Taj group is delivering food from a central kitchen including delicacies from their well-known restaurants Golden Dragon, Firdaus, and Thai Pavilion.

Seasonal Tastes at The Westin Hyderabad is known in the city for their themed brunches. Now, they serve a brunch with a different theme every week as a delivery option too. The Punjabi brunch which I had served the signature Dal Kangaan, Rahra Gosht and Murgh Makhanwala. Also thrown in were some delish pizzas from Prego.

The Le Meridian Brunch

Another good option for home-delivered brunch is Le Meridian, they served the famous Bamboo Chicken from Araku Valley. The chicken was delivered stuffed in the bamboo at home, along with other Telugu delicacies such as Golichina Mamsam, and Chapala Pulusu.

Mercure KCP at Banjara Hills has a set of combos for takeaways and home deliveries. The Healthy Combo of Quinoa Khichdi and Multigrain Tikki is one of the popular ones among these. You can also opt for their vegetarian or non-vegetarian thalis delivered at your home.

The Park Hyderabad also has worked out quite a few combo meals. Ghee Rice with Lal Mirch Machhi or Kolkata style Fried Rice with Chilli Chicken are some of the options that you can choose from. They also have an Immunity Pack with Fresh Tulsi Dark Chocolates, Kadha, Fog & Date Loadoo and Broccoli & Almond Cookies which augment your health in these trying times.

Khau Suey From Shanghai Chef

The standalone restaurants are not lagging behind either. Shanghai Chef2 has an interesting oriental menu, including a Khau Suey which has each of the condiments packed separately.  The Grand Trunk Road and Exotica are established restaurants known for the North Indian food and deliver these home. I was especially impressed by the packaging of Grand Trunk, with data such as temperature checks logged in on the delivery box. You can also order the pizza, sandwich, pasta as well as Chef’s Special dishes from Olive Bistro. Their Tenderloin Burger is one of my favourites.

Punjabi Curries from Exotica

Once Upon a Time, one of my favourite restaurants at Green Park Hotel has started a delivery only setup at Madhapur. The menu here has many items that are offbeat, contemporary, or with a twist. Tingmo with Changezi Chicken, Chettinad Fish Mousse with round Garlic Toasts, and Ghee Roast Mutton Samosa are some dishes that come to mind.  Farzi CafĂ© is another restaurant in a similar space, and they also a special menu for delivery. Farzi Vada Pav (where the pav is stuffed inside the vada) and Butter Chicken Biryani are some of the star dishes here.

Farzi Vada Pav from Farzi Cafe

The original kitchen of Green Park Hotel at Begumpet is dishing out some good combos. After a successful Haleem campaign during Ramzan, they are offering an Awadhi combo for the weekends. Galoti Kabab, Awadhi Biryani, Gosht Taar Korma, and Phirni are some of the items which are part of the economically priced platter.

Rampuri Taar Qorma from Green Park Hotel

There are some more good places on my radar. Over the next couple of months, I hope to have some diverse places on my list that I can recommend.

Read more ...

Pootharekulu: The Paper Wrapped Sweet from Atreyapuram

The village of Atreyapuram in the coastal district of East Godavari is an important location on the food map of Andhra Pradesh. Its traditional sweet Pootharekulu is extremely popular in the two Telugu states and is gaining recognition nationally due to its signature looks and taste. The name of the sweet literally means “coating of sheet”. The sweet is wrapped by a wafer-thin rice starch resembling paper and is stuffed with sugar as well as dry fruits and nuts. The traditional sweet has a history of a few centuries. It is said that a village lady first prepared the sweet by adding sugar and ghee to leftover rice starch.

Read more ...

Jashn E Dawat: Home Delivered Hyderabadi Platter from Anjum’s Kitchen

Among the well-known home chefs of Hyderabad, Naaz Anjum is a prominent name. Specializing in Hyderabadi cuisine, the food from her home-based setup Anjum’s Kitchen is extremely sought after among the food lovers in the city. She is often my go-to person to order food when I have parties at home. Apart from Hyderabadi delicacies, she also has expertise in other dishes from the Telangana region.

Read more ...

Post Lockdown Blues for Restaurants: Is it All Gloom and Doom?

Coronavirus has brought about a paradigm shift in the way we live. The way we greet people, the way we move around and the way we socialize have all changed.  Masks, social distancing, containment, and sanitization are the new hot topics in the virtual world.  The food and beverage business is one of the businesses which has come to a virtual standstill, and grave predictions are being made about its future. The scenario being painted is so scary that the restaurateurs, chefs, and F&B professionals are rightfully extremely worried about their future. Some that I have talked to have indicated that they are considering shifting to alternate professions. But is the scenario going to be that bad? Common sense tells me it may not be so.

Read more ...

Osmania Biscuit: The Nizam’s Favourite cookie

Apart from the signature dishes like biryani and haleem, Hyderabadi cuisine is also famous for its bakery items. These include the various types of cookies that are made in the innumerable bakeries the city is dotted with. While varieties like fruit biscuit, Chand biscuit, and Dum ka Roat are popular, the most well-known of these is Osmania biscuit. The biscuit gets its name from the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, who had been one of the biggest patrons of this round-shaped cookie.

Read more ...

The Hyderabadi Naan from Purani Haveli

Hyderabadi cuisine boasts of some exciting broths and gravies like Marag, Paya Shorba and Nihari. What goes well with all these dishes is the “Char Koni Naan” or the square-shaped bread the city is known for.

Read more ...

Onion Samosa: The Popular Street Food of Old Hyderabad

Samosa is a popular snack all over India, and each region has its own variations. The stuffed savoury which originated in Middle-East Asia, and is known as Sambusak in Persia, was brought to India by Persian traders in the thirteenth century. We Hyderabadis love our own variant of samosa and be it any season or place in the twin cities, you often come across street hawkers on bicycles selling onion samosas. 

Read more ...

Initiatives Showcasing Cuisines from the Two Telugu states

One of the recent hot trends in the Indian food industry has been a renewed interest in Regional Cuisines. India is a huge country, with the population of many states as big as some countries itself. The variations in food are so huge that dossiers can be written about the food of any state. As is said, food and language change every hundred kilometers, and thus the dishes of one end of a larger state is very different from that of the other end. In the same district, divergence is seen in the food of different communities, castes, and religions. Tribal food is another area altogether with recipes not even available in the public domain.

Read more ...