For The best Hyderabadi food in Hyderabad

Recently at a Facebook live show, I was asked about the culinary map of Hyderabad. The question set me thinking. Over the last few decades, Hyderabad has very much become a cosmopolitan city. With the city becoming an IT hub, we now have representation of most of the national and international cuisines here. Significant numbers of the city population originally hail from different states and this has a lasting effect on the food being offered by different restaurants here. However, the charm of the original cuisines from the city still remains as the major attraction to any visitor to the city of pearls.

Biryani
So, what all can be considered as the original cuisines of Hyderabad? In the recent chat with friend Rajesh Tara (you can see the Youtube video below), I expressed that Hyderabad is home to two-and-half different cuisines. The first and the most popular is of course Hyderabadi (Deccani) food, and this post talks about the leading places for this cuisine in the city. The food of the original inhabitants is what this city is known worldwide especially the signature Biryani. There are possibly a thousand places in this city that offer this dish, many in their own way. Hyderabadi biryani is prepared the Kachhi way (the marinated meat is not pre-cooked, it is cooked completely in the degh with rice and masala in dum), is known for its masala rather than the aroma, and is enjoyed by millions in the city. The most popular zaffrani variety has more than 90% market share and is made popular by restaurants such as Paradise, Bawarchi and Shadab.

Paradise is the brand that has played a key role in putting Hyderabadi biryani in the world food map. While these days it is fashionable to badmouth this establishment, I have had some of my best biryanis here. Their kitchen is modern with due diligence done and processes being followed. A small issue that I have always faced is with the takeaway packs, often the packed biryani does not have the right proportion of white rice, moist rice and meat. Still, I consider them the pioneers as far as the dish is concerned.

Shadab, Bawarchi and Meridian (a comparatively lesser-known place in Punjagutta) are my top picks from the restaurants that serve biryani in the city today. However, if I order at home I prefer the biryani served by some of the home chefs, Naaz Anjum, Zarina Shah and Dakhni Dastarkhaan in particular. Sofiyani Biryani, a completely different dish is available from Naaz Anjum as well as Aish at The Park. Of course, as most people agree, some of the best Hyderabadi food is available at the wedding feasts. 

Haleem

The next hugely popular dish from the Hyderabadi stable in Haleem, a pounded wheat and rice concoction with ghee and masala. Haleem is usually the best during the month of Ramzan, and it provides employment to many people during the holy month. Café 555, Sarvi, Shah Ghouse and Pista House being some of my favourites for this. Grill 9 at Karkhana is another place that has gained recognition for its superior haleem. There are a few places that serve haleem throughout the year, Chicha’s at Masab Tank, Green Park Hotel (a favourite of mine) and Firdaus at Taj Krishna are some that come to my mind. 

Marag

There is much more to the cuisine than the above two. Marag, a fine broth ((a fabulous meat broth, the best version of which you get at Sohail Hotel, Malakpet),  Talawa Gosht (go to Alhumdulillah for the beef and Meridian for the lamb version), Seekh Kababs (Shehran for the mutton and Kabab-e-Jahangiri for the beef), Shikampur (meaning belly full, try it from one of the home chefs), Chicken 65 (at Al-Akbar near Charminar) are some of the dishes that come to mind. Patthar Ka Gosht, Nizam’s favourite boneless meat preparation cooked on a stone is best at Bade Miyan in Upper Tank Bund. This is a special dish from the Deccani cuisine and must be savoured here. Chicha’s in another place where I liked the dish.

For a typically Hyderabadi breakfast, I suggest you visit Nayaab near Madina building. Reach there early in the morning and start with their Paya Nihari simmering in a huge degh near the entrance. While Bheja Fry, Bheja Masala and Bhaji Gurda are some of the known dishes here, do not miss Malai Paya the signature dish here. Their saffron tea or Kesar Chai is another attraction

Malai Paya at Nayaab

Some of the other Irani “hotels” are also known for their offal items too. Enjoy the Kheema at Alpha Hotel near Secunderabad station, or Gurda Bhaji at the Paradise breakfast joint on the ground floor of the restaurant complex. Among other popular dishes, Khichdi Keema Khatta is worth trying at Shadab or Shah GhouseShadab also makes a decent Paya Nihari.

Among the Hyderabadi breads, the most popular is Charkoni Naan, the square naan which has perforation marks to be shared by four people. Quite a few places near Purani Haveli in Old City roll out these naans exclusively, the most well-known among them is Munshi Naan.  The dishes which go well with this naan are particularly Marag and Nihari. In the wedding feasts you get a heart-shaped version of the dish, called "Dil Naan".

Biscuits at Nimra Cafe

When we talk about breakfast, we need to talk about the Irani Chai. Tea is consumed in high volumes throughout the day by Hyderabadis at the countless Irani Hotels in the city. Some of the best places known for Irani or Dum Ki Chai are Nimra Café at Charminar and Niloufer Café. Hyderabad has some fantastic biscuits to go with tea, including Osmania and Fruit biscuits that have been made popular by Karachi Bakery all over the country. At Nimra Café you can see a platter of many types of biscuits they make, among which Chand and Tye biscuits deserve a special mention. And do not leave the city without trying out the Dum Ke Roat at Subhan Bakery at Nampally, for me that is easily the best product in this genre.

Jouzi Halwa

Finally the Hyderabadi desserts. Khubani Ka Meetha made from apricot, and Double Ka Meetha, the Hyderabadi cousin of Shahi Tukra are available in any hotel. Then there is Badam ki Jaali and Ashrafi (fashioned after the coin of Nizam), mostly found in marriages, but you can order them from the makers in old city, they also put up a stall in Numaish, the Hyderabad exhibition during January and February. There are many variations of Hyderabadi sweets with dishes like Kaddu ka Kheer, Ande ke Lauz, the many versions of Phirni and more. The best place to visit for Hyderabadi sweets is Meethe Miyan, a shop exclusively dealing with Hyderabadi sweets at Filmnagar and Banjara Hills. Jouzi Halwa is a Turkish-Hyderabadi dessert which one needs to try at Hameedis at Nampally.

Badam ki Jaali

But Hyderabad’s native cuisine is not just what is known as “Hyderabadi”. A long stint as the capital of undivided Andhra Pradesh has given this city access to some awesome Telugu food from different regions of the state. Maybe I will cover that in another post someday. 

To the readers of this post, if there are your favourite places for Hyderabadi food in the city, please add in the comments below. I will love to visit them. 

Please see the youtube conversation below for more details on food in Hyderabad..




2 comments:

  1. Thank you for getting this together.
    Going to keep this handy for my foodie guests visiting Hyderabad.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing... I will list these places and will try one by one.

    ReplyDelete