Patthar Ka Gosht: The Hyderabadi Meat delicacy from the Nizami Era

The Hyderabadi cuisine has many popular dishes whose preparation methods are markedly different from those in other regions. Apart from haleem which comes to mind first, another dish in this category is Patthar ka Gosht, where a heated stone is used to cook pieces of boneless marinated meat. A favourite from the days of Nizam Asaf Jahi VI, this dish is still much sought after by food lovers on any visit to the city.

It is said that late in the nineteenth century, the Nizam Asaf Jahi VI used to frequently go hunting in the forests. On one such trip, his bawarchis forgot to carry their skewers and shikanjas required to prepare kababs and innovated by cooking mutton on a flat granite stone heated by firewood from below. The Nizam developed a liking for the dish, and so this recipe was replicated repeatedly at the royal kitchens. More than a century later, the dish is still extremely popular in many areas in the city. Especially during Numaish, the annual exhibition of Hyderabad, many visitors flock to their favourite Patthar Ka Gosht stalls at the exhibition grounds. However, cooking on a stone is not just a specialty of Hyderabad, it is prevalent in some Arab countries too. In India, Mumbai and Bangalore also have very limited availability of street food prepared on heated stone slabs.

There are few important aspects of making a perfect patthar ka gosht – selection of a right granite stone is one of them. The stone should not crack under the heat, and it should not be too thick to consume extra heat, instead, it should act as a good conductor. In this recipe, slices of flattened lamb meat are marinated in garlic, ginger, chilli paste, salt, spices like garam masala, shah jeera and kababchini and raw papaya for at least four hours and often overnight, so that the meat becomes quite tender. It is then roasted on a stone heated with charcoal below. The end result is often truly a melt in the mouth dish. The proportions of marinade, ghee, the roughness of the stone as well as the timing of flipping the meat over, play a role in getting the optimum taste.

One of the best places for patthar ka gosht in Hyderabad is Bade Miyan Kababs, a small kiosk midway on upper tank bund near the Ramadasu statue. The shop is owned by Syed Shaji whose great-grandfather Haji Syed Ismail started this business. The outlet uses proprietary spices, and the ghee is used as a medium of cooking on the charcoal heated stone. As per Shaji, the stone used is called pahadi stone and it has to be selected very carefully. The soft patthar ka gosht is served here with a little bit of onion salad and some delectable mint chutney.  Rumali roti often becomes a perfect companion too.

Chicha’s at Masab Tank is known for authentic Hyderabadi food. Patthar Ke Gosht is available here every day in the evening. Another place to try this dish is Zaiqa-E-Hyderabad at Banjara Hills.

During Ramzan, many stalls in the Old City prepare Patthar Ke Gosht and become a huge draw for the food lovers. During Ramzan Sonu Kababs is one of the places which is known for its authentic preparation. However, these days the dish is being prepared with the stone heated by gas ovens instead of charcoal. While preparation is quicker this way, the dish loses some of its authentic flavours.

Note: This is an updated version of the article originally published in New Indian Express Hyderabad on 23rd September 2017.

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