Random Food Musings from Hyderabad

The second wave seems to be behind us, though many are anticipating a new wave soon. A new normal now is to jump around between the waves and enjoy a little before the panchi is back in the pinjra.  Revenge is the new buzzword with revenge dining and revenge travel ruling the roost. I am no exception to the trend, though some of my friends are predicting that the revenge jumping around going on will result in a big fat new wave. But now the attitude is Jo hoga dekha jayega.

But let us cast that aside for a while and look at the F&B scene in our favourite city. The mayhem seems to have ebbed out, and people are back to the outlets. For the street and small places, it is almost business as usual, whereas the larger restaurants have also started getting some traction. What is most redeeming is that a few new places have started to come up making the scenario much more vibrant.

I had just resumed dining out around December of 2020 but since April 2021 I have not been visiting restaurants much for obvious reasons. Though I had been feasting on takeaways and home deliveries all through the pandemic, lack of exposure to the outside world had kept throwing me into bouts of feeling low. It was finally around late August this year when I could muster the will and courage to finally venture out to a restaurant. 

My first meal outside after a while was in Mercure Hyderabad KCP in Somajiguda. Their coffee shop Cayenne had introduced a set of Executive Thalis for lunch. Coming in two variants - vegetarian and non-vegetarian, the thalis were sumptuous and attractively priced (Rs 400 (veg) & Rs 450 (non-veg) (plus 18% tax). The components had been planned to keep the local flavours in mind. Both the thali variants had some very tasty dishes. 

My picks were Chapala Pulusu (Fish Curry) and Kodi Vepudu (Chicken Masala Fry) from the non-veg thali and Gutti Vankaya (the star of the day, Brinjal in peanut masala) and Palakura Pappu (Spinach Dal) from the veg fare served with Bagara Chawal and Parathas. Then there were some nice Mirchi Bhajjis, Dahi Vada, and Gulab Jamun. The clean environment and quick service further added to my long-lost satisfaction of eating out.

In late August we went on a road trip to the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh. During this trip, we savoured the signature tiffins from Kadappa/Ananthpur belt namely the Kaaram Dosas. On return I was pining for more of the same and remembered Panchakattu Dosa, a food truck in Hyderabad (their original shop is in Tadipatri near Ananthapur) serving Rayalaseema style dosas that I had visited and written about before the pandemic.

Enquiries revealed that now they have graduated from the truck to two restaurants, one in Banjara Hills and one in Madhapur. The Banjara Hills one is inside a lane opposite KBR Park, next to Ebony Hotel. One weekend, we landed up for breakfast and perused the short menu of around ten items. Ordered Neyyi Kaaram Dosa and Neyyi Kaaram Onion Dosa. Laden with ghee, laced with red chutney and served with another three different types of chutneys, the dosa was simply delicious.

My only complaint was they have brought down the spice level keeping in mind how cosmo Hyderabad is getting day by day. I like my chutneys fiery. The soft Ghee Idlies were again too good. They serve some refreshing Nannari (a local sharbat which is a must-try). I will be back to try more items like Upma Dosa and Junnu shortly. 

As I had mentioned at the beginning of this post, while many restaurants were reopening after the second wave, a few places have expanded with new branches in the city. Sarita Sarkar of Sarkar’s Kitchen is one courageous lady. We, the Bengali food lovers this side of the town, were pretty disappointed when Oh Calcutta decided to close down their Begumpet outlet. But good news came in that Sarkar’s Kitchen, the Bengali restaurant with multiple awards, were opening their new 60-seater place in Banjara Hills. The restaurant is above Chinese Pavilion, bang opposite Vengal Rao Park.

All the signature dishes from them are available in this new place. The decor with red brick walls and pictures from Bengali art and culture was something to my liking. Mochar Chop, Chicken Cutlet, and Fish Fry brought much cheer as starters, whereas the main courses included Chholar Dal, Begun Bhaja, Mangsho (my all-time favourite here) and Luchi. We also had Chingri Malaikari with rice.  Look out for their Kolkata Biryani and Chaap too.

Overall, the F&B outlets in the city are limping to normalcy. Even the fine dines have started reopening, though promotions like regional food festivals have still not taken off. It is high time that our brave F&B warriors get some respite from the tough times they have been through in the last one and half years. I am among the ones who are very optimistic about the future of these businesses and wish them the best for the immediate future. 



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