Noya Terrace & Bar: Hyderabad’s New Scenic Rooftop Destination

The restaurant scenario in the city has taken a major hit during last year, and I keep on ruing the fact that the pandemic has claimed many of my favourite places. However, life goes on as the old gives way to the new. Among the rare newborns in the F&B scene in the city is Noya, the rooftop bar and restaurant at Hotel Avasa.  Replacing the erstwhile Sky kitchen and providing a scenic view of the city, this place is already becoming a popular destination for the handful who are venturing out in this pre-vaccine period.

The place is opening its doors in phases and the first off the blocks is the watering hole on the 12th-floor terrace, with options of comfortable sofas as well as bar seating. The restaurant (to be opened soon) is located on one side of the terrace bar. The other side provides a grand view of the skyline of the city with the illuminated Hitech City metro station. Trains chugging out of the station during my long dinner here took me back to my childhood, when I used to insist on visiting the nearby suburban station every day just to get a look at trains passing by. The indoor part of the outlet will also be housed on the tenth and eleventh floor, with a dance floor to boot.

The menu at Noya is curated by Chef Vignesh Ramachandran, one of the bright young culinary stars on the Hyderabad food scene. Vignesh featured in the India-wide “40 under 40” list of exciting young chefs picked by CNN Traveller last year and is someone whom I respect for his knowledge as well as his modern Indian creations. Many of us are familiar with the good work he has done during the rebirth of Once Upon a Time, the flagship restaurant of the Green Park Hotel group. Here in Noya, his food is distinctly progressive Indian, while the cocktails are again Indian with a twist.

Qubani Ka Fizz (Top) and Kaffir Lime Dusted Cashewnuts

We settled down with Qubani ka Fizz, a drink which is a take on one of Hyderabad’s favourite desserts, Qubani Ka Meetha. The apricot flavoured gin and tonic instantly impresses. A bowl of Kaffir Lime Dusted Cashewnuts has dehydrated kaffir lime dust with some garlic and chaat masala.  The combo instantly lifts your expectations and you look forward to many “hatke” preparations.

Roasted Pineapples and Cheeselings Bhel (top), Tamarind Margarita (middle) and Sparkling Ilaineer Inji

Roasted Pineapples and Cheeslings Bhel was next. The masala-laced pineapples combine brilliantly with cheeslings, the use of which instead of puffed rice is itself very unique. Accompanying this is Tamarind Margarita, using tamarind syrup prepared at their own kitchen. My wife goes for Sparkling Ilaineer Inji, with vodka and tender, ginger and coconut water.

Hyderabadi Mezze Platter (top), Mutton Ghee Roast Patti Samosa (middle) and Karriveppila Mojito

The food continues to rock. The Hyderabadi Mezze Platter is a meal by itself, with Baigan ka Raita replacing the Babaghanoush, and a roasted tomato chutney being standouts among the dips, whereas Rajma Vada, Tawa Paneer and Masala Pita presenting diverse flavours. This dish has the potential to be a signature of this place. I also fell in love with the Mutton Ghee Roast Patti Samosas, as an ideal foil for the cocktails. By then I had graduated to enjoying the curry leaf flavoured Karriveppila Mojito. The bar menu also lists Vodka Kheera Dosakaya and Masala Chaitini, names I will remember for my next visit.

Bydagi Chilli Prawns

A unique dish in the true spirit of concept fusion is Bydagi Chilli Prawns. Inspired by Spanish Gambas Al Ajillo, the prawns are tossed in abundant ghee with the Karnataka Bydagi chillies and curry leaves. Enjoyed the spicy ghee-laden gravy soaked into the pav served with it.

Butter Chicken Pakodas (top) and Chicken 65 Sliders

Butter Chicken Pakoda, where butter chicken and mince are crisply fried into delicious short eats was another of my favourites. A tribute to Hyderabad was Chicken 65 Sliders that worked well especially with the crisply fried 65 pieces tasting familiar and different at the same time.

Tingmo with Beef Curry

The best was kept for the last. Tingmo with Beef Curry for me was definitely the dish of the day. The soft and airy Tibetan bread roll was nice, but the Beef curry cooked in Nepalese style with a distinct flavor of green chilli was simply unputdownable.

Burnt Chhena Cheesecake (top) and Milo Kulfi

The desserts packed quite a punch too. Chenapodo from Odisha is one of the favourite sweets in our household, and Vignesh had turned it into a cheesecake. The Burnt Chhena Cheesecake is definitely a strong recommendation here. It is a pity that we were overly stuffed by then, so could not do justice to it. For chocolate lovers, Milo Kulfi is something not to be missed.

Noya Terrace & Bar definitely is a step in the right direction for Hyderabad, with the availability of state-of-art Indian-inspired cocktails and short eats from the modern cuisine stable. The ambience adds to the overall impact making it a place to put in your priority list for a visit with friends. 


Noya Terrace & Bar


Huda Techno Enclave, Madhapur, Hyderabad

Tel 040 67282828

Timings: Sunday to Thursday (6 pm to midnight), Saturday and Sundays (6 pm to 1 am)

Read more ...

Eight Must Order Dishes from Home Chefs in Hyderabad

 The COVID phenomenon and reluctance of food lovers to dine out has really provided a fillip to a different breed of food entrepreneurs. Every city including Hyderabad has them offering different cuisines, often with a s short menu and signature dishes. I have been experimenting with from many home chefs in the city during the last ten months. These are some of my favourite dishes across the home chef spectrum in the city. The dishes are in no particular order.

1. Mutton Glassy –  The Kitchen Table (77310 76662)

This is a special and uncommon dish from Bangladesh, which is supposedly adapted from a British recipe. A milk based mutton preparation this goes well with both rice and rotis. Roshni Nathan of The Kitchen Table is a talented home chef and what I like about her offerings is that she brings forward niche food from different regions with frequent menu changes.

2. Whole Grilled Chicken – Rassasie (91544 22459)

This setup from Jubilee Hills has a few variants of their Grilled chicken prepared in different marinades. I have had a tandoori version which was served with corn cobs, broccoli and baby potatoes.  Some other marinade choices include barbeque and oregano.

3. Chicken Rezala – Sharmi’s Kitchen (95025 50993)

The Kolkata Rezala is part of the Muslim cuisine from the city that has gained widespread acceptance all over the country. Rezala from “Sabir” an old favourite from Chandni Chowk in Central Kolkata has won many hearts, and is a must do for a foodie in the city. The sublime white gravy with cashew and poppy seeds can be enjoyed in Hyderabad from Sharmi’s Kitchen in Domalguda.  You can also try her Kolkata style biryani.

4. Pork Curry – The Pork Affair (98499 60070)

Hyderabad is not very well-known for its pork dishes, as many restaurants avoid cooking the meat which is not consumed by Muslims. I rely on Deepak Kumar’s “The Pork Affair” for my pork staple. He has two signature dishes, but that pork curry cooked in local style is my out-and-out favourite. I usually ask my pork to be bought as only meat (minimum lard), but you can choose from the various other options he has available on his menu.

5. Thai Pineapple Fried Rice – Devils Pot (79958 64607)

There are hardly any home chefs promoting food from Thailand in the city. Devil’s Pot in Banjara Hills has a number of Thai dishes on their menu, and most of them taste very authentic. But Thai style Pineapple Fried Rice with abundant prawns was the dish that impressed me most. Not to speak of their Tom Kha Gai and Pineapple skewers. 

6. Sofiyani Biryani – Anjum’s Kitchen (99082 43017)

Naaz Anjum’s Kitchen is definitely one of the top places to order Hyderabadi food from. She is one of the most successful home chefs in Hyderabad with a vast repertoire of local dishes. It is but natural that her biryani is sought after. Among her trademark biryanis, I prefer the not-so-common Sofiyani Biryani from her rich in curd, cream and cashew paste. It is something which is available in very few places commercially.

7. Dhokar Dalna – PeekNCook (99856 77336)

There are many Bengali home chefs in this city, but perhaps the most accomplished of them is Moumita Ghosh of PeekNCook. Her Bengali vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies are in huge demand, and her Bengali sweets are just unputdownable. Dhokar Dalna, a Bengali style gravy of fried lentil cakes is something I would like you to specially try from her. Who says vegetarian Bengali cuisine does not have blockbuster dishes?

.8. Dum ka Murgh – Dakhni Dastarkhan (99896 00054)

The slow-cooked Chicken dish is the most popular gravy dish in Hyderabadi cuisine. For tasting the best quality Dum ka Murgh I recommend Dakhni Dastarkhan, a venture of Home Chef Aqsa who is from a well-known Hyderabadi family known for their culinary expertise. Other dishes like Shikampur and Talawa as well can be ordered from here. 

Read more ...

Ambur Biryani, the Other Biryani from Down South

While Hyderabadi Biryani is well-known the world over, there are a few other varieties of biryani from South India which have their own followings. Ambur Biryani from the erstwhile princely state of Arcot is one of them. The biryani is especially in demand in the northern part of Tamil Nadu as well as parts of Karnataka around Bangalore city.

Ambur is a small town in Tamil Nadu known for its leather industry, is located on the way to Bengaluru from Chennai close to the Karnataka border, It is said that about a century ago, Hasin Baig, a bawarchi from the kitchens of the Nawab of Arcot relocated to his hometown Ambur and started preparing biryani there with a similar recipe as the Arcot biryani. While the biryani at Nawab’s court was prepared in basmati rice, Baig started making his Ambur version for the masses using cheaper seeraga samba rice. The biryani (spelt “briyani” in Ambur) which was initially sold on bicycles, became so popular that a small shop was set up and people from even outside the town started to flock to this shop. Over the years, this recipe, now known as Ambur Biryani, has spread to parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu where it is hugely in demand.  Bangalore and Chennai, for example, has many eateries offering this version of biryani.

Apart from the variety of rice (Seeraga Samba rice is known as Chitti mutyalu in Telangana), there are other differences Ambur Biryani has from its Hyderabadi counterpart. The meat here is cooked before putting the biryani on dum, and tomatoes are used frequently in the recipe. Also, the biryani uses more of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and green chillies and is not as spicy as the Hyderabadi one. Moderately high use of tomato, coriander, and mint leaves gives a uniform colour to the biryani. 

While preparing Ambur biryani, the meat is first pre-cooked using onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, curd, and whole spices. Separately cooked rice and this meat are then layered in a degh and topped with ghee before putting on dum. In some places, the rice and meat are mixed together instead of layering.  The biryani is preferably eaten with an eggplant gravy known as Kathirikal Pachidi.

The Original Pondy Parottas outlet in Moti Nagar

Three years back I located a small place in the bylanes of Madhura Nagar near Ameerpet Hyderabad that was perhaps the only place serving Ambur Biryani. Pondy Parottas an eatery run by Raja Subbiah and Judith May, a couple from Pondicherry has made rapid strides since then. They now have two restaurants in Hitech city (Road to Hitex Exhibition grounds) and Kukatpally (lane next to Manjeera Mall) as well as two delivery points at Nanakramguda and Balkampet. Though also known for their Tamil and Sri Lankan parottas, the outlet introduced Ambur Biryani to the menu and since then there has been no looking back. 

Pondy Parottas in Hitech City

As per Raja, Ambur Biryani has become his largest selling dish very fast and draws a steady flow of local customers.  He offers variants of this biryani in chicken, mutton kheema, and prawns. The biryani here is served with a special Dalcha apart from salan and raita. The masalas which are prepared completely in-house give a special taste to their biryanis.

Note: This is an updated version of the article originally published in New Indian Express Hyderabad on 9th September 2017. 

Read more ...

Oaksmith Gold: A Fine Blended Whisky from Beam Suntory

Just before the lockdown, a friend told me about trying out Oaksmith Gold, a new brand of whisky that has arrived in the Hyderabad market. As a lover of whisky, I do try out different brands all the time, and what he told me was interesting. Oaksmith Gold is a blend of Scotch and Bourbon, but the product has a Japanese touch too. In fact, this brand from Beam Suntory (known in India for Laphroaig as well as Japanese Yamazaki and Hibiki) where aged premium Scotch whisky is added to Kentucky Bourbon, has been crafted by well-known Japanese Master Blender Shinji Fukayo, who was also involved with premium Japanese brands like Yamazaki and Hibiki. Thus the product is a rare blend of East and West.

Mr. Fukayo wanted to prepare a blend exclusively for India, and he visited our country a number of times, touring different rural and urban venues to understand the drinking habits of Indians as well as the bar food here. The endeavor has been to create a brand that complements the consumer’s palate and provides an entry-level option to premium whiskies. Some amount of Indian grain whisky is also blended into the product. 

The idea of blending Scotch with Bourbon is quite novel giving this whisky a unique taste. It is a product aimed at the taste of Indian whisky aficionados, where whisky is typically enjoyed with soda and water. As per Fukayo, “While making this blend, I wanted to ensure that it resonates specifically well with the Indian audience while being truly international in its spirit.”

The whisky retains a little bit of smokiness from the peaty scotch but it has its distinct woody aroma from the Oakwood barrels of Bourbon. In fact, the product derives its name from the Oak barrels in which the whisky has been aged. The taste felt very smooth and easy to me, which is a hallmark of the work of a master blender. There is a sweetish finish that I could feel too.

The whisky has been launched exclusively for India with plans of making it available in the international market in the near future. The pricing is quite economical too, with a tag of around Rs 1400 for a 750ml bottle in Telangana. This pits this against mass premium brands like 100 Pipers but at a much more pleasant price point. Already there is quite a bit of traction for the brand in the state, which will definitely go up with more awareness.

Read more ...

Promising Home Chefs and Cloud Kitchen Options in Hyderabad

2020 may be called the year of food delivery. Due to the pandemic, and restaurants being closed as well as the reluctance of the consumers to visit them even after they have reopened has led to a boom in takeaway and home-delivered food in every Indian city. The home chefs and food entrepreneurs have risen to the challenge by bringing in many differentiators to stand out in this business. Here is a look at some of the promising cloud kitchens as well as food served from home chefs in our city, Hyderabad. I had earlier talked about some options (READ: Home delivered Food Rules the Roost in Hyderabad) and here are some fresh new ideas to order your food from.

Dakhni Dastarkhan: (Hyderabadi)  Call 9989600054

When the Hyderabadi dishes come from a very well-known Hyderabadi family, your expectation is naturally very high. And the food from Home Chef Aqsa, from Dakhni Dastarkhan does complete justice to it.

The Zaffrani Gosht Biryani is served with some exceptional salan with boiled eggs in it. The biryani itself tastes very different from the run-of-the-mill variety we get usually. The Shikampur has the mandatory belly fill of a nice mint-based preparation. The flavours of Dum ka Murgh and Talawa Gosht strike the right note. After all, though these are common dishes, the recipes are heirloom. This place is right on top of my list for future orders of Hyderabadi food. 


The Pork Affair: (Pork meat delicacies) Call 8106451341

Hyderabad does not have too many places serving good pork dishes, but there is definitely one home chef I can recommend in this segment. I had tasted the Pork Biryani from them a few months ago and loved the same. This time, after rave reviews from my trusted friend I went for some more dishes from there.

Pork Curry with Paratha, Boneless Pork Fry, and Pork Pulav were the three dishes I feasted on. I commend them first on the quality of pork they procure because in Hyderabad it isn't easy to get good stuff. All three dishes are just very good, especially the pulav with the fat melting into the rice. The curry was cooked with a lot of expertise and with no additional oil. 

Definitely worth it for the pork lovers in the city. 

Rassasie: (Continental) Telephone 9154422459

This is a new setup in Jubilee Hills, which has a refreshingly different menu, stressing on continental food. Their Grilled chicken is a feast to the eye. While I personally loved the Tandoori Grilled Chicken (with abundant veggies like baby potatoes, broccoli, corn cobs, and so on), you also have other choices like barbecue or oregano.

Another highlight is Lamb Stew sent with garlic bread (one toasted more than the other). With abundant veggies and meat, the broth is really a melting pot of flavours.

This is a project of a home chef who had always been passionate about cooking and has taken her first baby steps into the F&B business. 

Stories In A Box: (Indian Regional) Telephone 7995004999

A Cloud kitchen with a difference with a very innovative menu, mostly comfort food from home kitchens, and some interesting preparations. 

Take for example Mutton Soup Annam, flavourful rice cooked in mutton stock with shredded mutton in it. The whole bowl gets over in a jiffy. The Rasam Annam, with a zing of pepper in it, is also for the soul. Carrot & Beans Poriyal Rice can be enjoyed with some tossed Alu Fry.

I am not a big fan of curd rice, but still, the Iyengar Curd Rice impressed. Chicken Fry was spicy and delicious.

They have a great Tiffin Box concept, where you can pick a total of 4 dishes, 1 from each set. And the tiffin box is priced very aggressively at 219.

Shahi Maksoos: (Hyderabadi) Telephone 9908695320

Shahi Makhsoos, the home kitchen of Asma Farooqui, has an economical Hyderabadi food platter which is good enough for two persons. To start with the Chicken 65 is prepared the traditional way and is definitely on par with the best in the city. The Dum ka Murgh is another gem with the big Roomali Rotis delivered alongside. And then, there is the Hyderabadi Biryani with a thick and tasty Mirchi ka Salan. 

Oriental Tales: (Pan-Asian) Telephone 7702989898

A new Cloud Kitchen promoted by the Rayalaseema Ruchulu group has some very interesting combos that can be delivered to your home. The Fried Rice and Chilli Chicken reminded me of the Kolkata joints that I used to frequent during my childhood, while the noodles paired well with Fish in Hot Garlic Sauce.

They also have sumptuous family packs that can be ordered for large families. And of course, a whole range of starters including Hyderabad ka apna Chicken Drumsticks and Pepper Chicken... The promoters being experienced and acclaimed in the F&B business, you are assured of quality and safety procedures.

RR Chinese Corner (Indo Chinese) Telephone 9885264232

This place suggested to me by Chef Pradeep Khosla during our Instagram Live session is a small economical place for Indo-Chinese. The owner cum chef Shankar Pande has more than a decade of experience as a Chef in Taj Krishna, Westin, and Hyatt Gachibowli. 

RR Chinese Corner (named after the initials of his son) has a short menu catering to the busy Banjara Hills customers, but the chef is willing to do additional dishes (out of menu) at prior notice. Thus after a discussion with him, my choice was Golden Fried Prawns (a favourite from Golden Dragon), Chicken with broccoli, bell pepper, bok choy and other veggies, as well as Chicken Dimsums (with a special scallion pepper dip apart from a fiery one). The Kolkata style Chilli Chicken was requisitioned with Burnt Garlic Fried Rice. I had high expectations and the food did exceed the same. 

Read more ...