New Place in Hyderabad: Sachii Skybar & Kitchen

Among the many new restaurants opening in the city, there are two major formats that seem to be popular. First are the cafes, with open areas, and an impressive menu of hot and cold beverages and food, mostly contemporary or with a twist. The second is the watering holes, as the city crowd likes to let their hair down, especially on the weekends. The ambience is a very important attribute of the latter places, Alfresco and rooftops being more in demand for the people.

Sachii Skybar & Kitchen is the new kid in the block (opened during the last week of March 2023), a swank place on the rooftop of the same building in Road No 12 Banjara Hills that hosts the Hyundai showroom. It is known as a sky bar as the place is located on a swank rooftop and prides itself in serving one of the best cocktails in town. The total seating capacity is about 150, including an indoor private dining area that can host 40 people. Corporate parties, they can accommodate up to 250 people.

As I entered the place the openness of the design struck me. The bar here is I– shaped with about 360 degrees of visibility. We preferred to sit under the open sky in very comfortable sofas with cushions. You can choose to dine indoors or enjoy your drinks on bar stools as well.

From top - Edamame Shikampur, Renkon Chips & Blueberry Dahipoori

The food here is quite unique, many dishes are crossover food with influences from different cuisines. For example, their Sriracha Khakra is inspired by nachos and they are served the same way with hot hot Sriracha as the dip. The Edamame Shikampur was lovely, prepared from the beans and stuffed with cream cheese inside. The Mango Paneer Shammi is another example of the same style.

From Top - Sriracha Butter Garlic Crab, Seared Teriyaki Salmon and Caesar Salad Croquette

Among the non-vegetarian dishes do not miss Sriracha Butter Garlic Soft Shell Crab. The crabs are tossed in a wok to make the item really crispy. Seared Teriyaki Salmon is another highlight served with guacamole, and red wine jus caviar. Caesar Salad Croquette has chicken croquettes served with Caesar dressings and parmesan cheese.

Makhan Tomatilla (Top) and River Fish Steak

Makhan Tomatillo broth was to my liking, consisting of creamy butternut squash and tomatoes and roasted along with pinenuts and cheese meringue. 

Artisanal Dal Khichdi with accompaniments (below)

Artisanal Dal Khichdi is something I can recommend to everyone. A signature dish of the restaurant, it has truffle oil and porcini mushrooms as ingredients as well as the special Hallikar Cow Ghee from Karnataka. The huge number of tasty accompaniments served with the dish makes it even more special. A plate can easily be shared by two people.

For lovers of local food, Chicken 65 Poppers and Andhra Allam Prawns are two dishes not to be missed. The restaurant also has burgers, pizzas, and Sushis. Galouti Bao served with green chutney is another differentiator.

Himalayan Sour

Talking about cocktails, Himalayan Sour (Whisky, burnt wine, egg white, lemon, and red pepper) was an absolute winner for me. Botanical Lemonade is a smoked drink flavoured by thyme shrubs. A balanced mocktail is Peach and Lavender. The syrups used for both cocktails and mocktails are mostly made in-house. 


And finally about Sachii, their signature dessert, with a bit of table theatrics. Its ingredients are pannacotta, orange marmalade, and a cone on top through which honey is poured down. As the honey drips down on top of the other ingredients it really enhances the taste. They do have other interesting desserts too.


Sachii Skybar & Kitchen

5th Floor, Mansingh Square, 

Road No. 12, Venkateswara Colony, 

Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Telangana 500034

Phone 77025 91379

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Quick Bytes: Mota Kababi Presents Regional Delicacies from UP and Bihar in Hyderabad

Among the current trends in dining out is an increased interest in regional cuisines. In fact, enthusiastic food lovers are going beyond regional food to what is being called micro-cuisines, the food of a particular area in a state, examples being Malwani or Coorgi food. Though Hyderabad is perceived as slightly lagging in this aspect, recent times have seen restaurants exploring much beyond the usual regional suspects such as Punjabi and Bengali. 

A small place near Botanical Gardens in Kondapur is catching the fancy of diners due to its diverse regional dishes. Mota Kababi, the twelve-seater place is owned and operated by Pratyush Anand, an IT professional and food enthusiast. Interested in cooking since childhood, Pratyush hails from Araria in Bihar and has spent a significant number of years in Nagpur and Lucknow. His place thus has delicacies from all of these three places. 

Among the Bihari dishes is the well-known Litti Chokha, where the sattu stuffed litties are available in baked or fried versions. The potato chokha is accompanied by Baigan Bharta. You also have the option of going chicken curry along with the litti. He has also introduced the chicken version Litti Murgh, as well as the one of the current favourites from Bihar’s street food, Tawa Litti Murgh.

The signature dish for me here is the Bihari-style Ghee Mutton.  The mutton is slow-cooked over coal for hours after marinating in a special masala which is brought from Bihar. Mustard oil, ghee, whole spices, and whole garlic bulbs add to the taste. The result is pure bliss when combined with the Indian bread choices from the menu. Pratyush tells me that in the villages this preparation is usually done using cow dung cakes as fuel, which gave a different flavour to the dish. Another dish here that Pratyush recommends is Saoji Mutton, a recipe from Vidarbha. The fiercely spicy curry from a community of weavers from the region has recently won a lot of admirers all over the country, but it is not commonly available in Hyderabad.

A few dishes from Awadh here also deserve a mention too as the chef here is from Lucknow and an expert in Nawabi dishes. The Awadhi Biryani is moist and aromatic, but leave your Hyderabadi inhibitions behind when you try it. The biryanis from the two princely states are as different as chalk and cheese. Do not expect the strong masala that you are accustomed to, and instead, soak in the flavours of the dish. A number of kababs such as the Galouti, Shammi Kabab and Boti kabab masala should also be tried here, to be enjoyed with Awadhi Ulte Tawa ke Parathe.  For customers who are in a hurry, Mota Kababi has kabab rolls wrapped in paratha, and Karachi-style Bun kababs, where galouti or shammi kababs are stuffed in a bun.

Address: Mota Kababi

Plot No-616, 3rd Street, 40 Feet Road, B-Block, Sri Ram Nagar, Kondapur, Telangana 500084

Call: 9704712786

Note: This is an updated version of the article originally published in New Indian Express Hyderabad on 23rd March 2019.

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Arunachal Pradesh Travelogue 2: Tawang and Bumla Pass

As we crossed the Sela Pass, we entered the border district of Tawang which was in the news only a few months ago due to the attempted incursion of Chinese troops across the Indo-Tibet border. Our first stop was Jaswantgarh War Memorial, the memorial of Martyr Jaswant Rawat, who during the 1962 war fought valiantly with the Chinese intruders and killed 300 of them. You will find lots of vehicles parked in front of the memorial, some carrying tourists and normal traffic too, as the army canteen here provides free unlimited tea to any passerby, and some other excellent stuff on payment – we ourselves tasted bread pakodas, vanilla cake, and rajma. 

Also Read: Dirang & Sela Pass

The memorial is a somber place at 10,000 feet, you go in and pay respects to the martyrs of the gallant Garhwal Rifles at the Battle of Nuranang with China. Amidst heavy rain, only a few tourists were there at the Smriti Sthal, but we visited all the spots inside before proceeding toward Tawang. 

Another 25 km away was the mighty Nuranag Waterfalls at Jang. The fall looks regal, and after a photo session there we had a quick and delicious thali lunch at a roadside eatery. The thalis in Arunachal, called “Rice Thali” are comfort food, simple but tasty. The locals are primarily Buddhists, and the cuisine has some similarities to the other hilly regions of the Eastern region such as Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Bhutan. When we reached Tawang by the evening, we could not help but notice that the small hill station has a lot of army movements given how sensitive it is.  Our homestay LD Retreat was located right below the Tawang Monastery. It was more of a small hotel with around ten cozy rooms.

Tawang Monastery

The weather continued to be wet and rainy the next day too. Our friends dropped out of the sightseeing on this day. Tawang Monastery is the second largest in the world, after the Lhasa monastery in Tibet. The inside of a monastery campus resembles a small town with monk and student quarters as well as a museum displaying old Tibetan artifacts. The Monpas, who are the predominant inhabitants of this part of Arunachal are Buddhists, unlike most of the other tribes in the rest of the state, and that is the reason there are more monasteries in the eastern part of the state. 

It was still raining as we progressed through rain and fog to Zemithang, a village known for its beauty located 80 km away near the Bhutan border. As you go along the hilly tracks, you can see the border villages of Bhutan on the next mountain separated by a river Manas flowing in between. We passed numerous rivulets and waterfalls, the best view was of a waterfall inside a cave. As we reached Zemithang, a local fair near the Gorsam Chorten resulted in a traffic snarl with literally about a hundred cars parked on the road. On the way back the weather became clearer, and we marveled at the lush green surroundings. The Bhutan villages could be clearly seen across the hill. 

The jewel on the crown of our Arunachal trip was the much-expected visit to Bumla Pass and Indo-Tibetan border. For a trip to the pass, you cannot take your own vehicle, you need to hire a local vehicle for the same (the whole trip costs Rs 5500, a price fixed by the local syndicate). During most of the 35 km journey, it was snowing very heavily, and the white surroundings looked out of the world. Our vehicles had to stop to wrap chains around the wheels to negotiate the snow. We passed the PT Lake and another few lakes, before reaching Bumla at 15,100 ft.  

Bumla Pass is the border of India and China-occupied Tibet, and vehicles can only travel to the army canteen there. Here we recharged ourselves with some hot tea, before the army took over, walked us down to the Indo-Tibetan border post, and gave us a detailed overview of the place through a very nice presentation. Listening to them, our heads bow with respect at the tremendous sacrifice of the Indian Armed Forces in such difficult terrains. After some more snacks and sweets at the army canteen on our return, playing around and posing in the snow, we came back to Tawang. The white surroundings, the snow drizzle, and the lakes en route made our journey truly surreal. It was easily the best day of our trip.

The whole journey from Guwahati to Tawang is 540 km, and most of it is in hilly terrain. So it takes at least two days to travel between the two places. Our Tawang trip was complete, and it was time to head homeward. On our way back, we had planned our night halt at Shergaon, a quaint hill station on the foothills. From the Tawang-Bhalukpong road, you need to take a right at Tenga Valley through Rupa to reach here. It was nighttime, and the well-constructed 25km stretch between Rupa and Shergaon was near empty, we barely had about a dozen vehicles coming from the other side during the 25 km run. 

The Shergaon Farmstay, a new property we stayed in was a few kilometers inside Shergaon located on a hill. The owners invited us to their home for some lovely local dinner including some exceptional Chicken Curry, Kewa Datshi (potatoes cooked in churpi, the local cheese, Bhutanese style), and some brilliant pickles made from fruits like Kiwi and local cheese. As a nice gesture, some pickles made from fermented churpi were given to us in a bottle to be carried back to Hyderabad. We had a fulfilling discussion with our hosts who gave us nice insights into the lifestyles of the local people there. As you travel through the length and breadth of the country, you truly marvel at the diversity we have, and this makes our unity even more special. In the morning we looked at their farm that breeds Turkey birds, and swans among others. We were told that each egg from Turkey is sold for Rs 100 at the local market and each egg of the swan at Rs 50.

The drive through the plains from Shergaon to Guwahati was equally scenic, we moved past the Dhunseri Tea Estate and later along the north bank of Brahmaputra. We stopped at Khar Khowa, a well-known Assamese restaurant near Mangaldoi, where we tried the local fish Bhangun cooked in Tenga style, the local mutton curry, and the Assamese Thali. Assamese food has its own distinctive flavours, and it is a wrong perception that it is an offshoot of Bengali food. They have their similarities only till a certain point and believe me it is a lovely cuisine not to be missed.

As we were waiting for our Hyderabad flight at the Guwahati Airport, we did not forget to try out the Naga Smoked Chicken Thali, at a stall name Local Foods inside the airport, as advised by Kaustuv. A grand gastronomical way to end our nine-day Arunachal sojourn. There are many others locations still waiting to welcome us to the North East in the future. Inshallah, some other time. 

You can contact our Tour Organizer Kaustuv Khaund at  91018 51344. He is based out of Guwahati, and organizes tours to Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal.

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