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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hyderabad Calling #1 - Food

I am sorry if this post makes you feel that all I have done in Hyderabad is to eat and that the work I was there for took the backseat. But I simply love food and can't stop raving about the food I had there. The mention of Hyderabad reminds one of the non-vegetarian delicacies on offer. Things weren't very different with me.

The first Hyderabadi thing I had was the samosa there. Drenched in oil, the samosa isn't pyramid-shaped like its Punjabi brother. It is flat like its Gujarati brother. The filling is, however, different from both of them. It had carrots and ... perhaps some other freshly cut and cooked vegetables - so it wasn't dry or stale. It was soft, wet and fresh to taste. I could easily forgive the oil for the taste of the samosa.

The first two days at Hyderabad, I had my lunch and dinner at Dominos and subway - making my friends pull their hair in rage: "Tu udhar jaake bhi wahi sab khayega kya?!!" While I had already decided that I would try Hyderabadi food on the last day, I thought I should start from then itself.

The name synonymous with Hyderabadi cuisine is biryani. The portions of biryani are large and certainly sufficient for two people. There are multiple versions of biryani that you see. There is a vegetarian version for the veggies, an egg version with two boiled eggs on the top of the biryani, a chicken/mutton version and finally, a mixed version which has chicken/mutton/egg. These are cooked layered with rice above it.

I had the mixed version last night - and I seriously think I do not want to eat anything today. And before you think that I am diarrhoeic, let me tell you that I am not. It was yummy but filling. Biryanis at restaurants are served with 'mirch ka salan' - which on the first look, looks like the good old Maharashtrian amti. But it is different. Mirch ka salan is thicker and has groundnut powder base in its gravy. The salan often contains a thick chilli - which you can pick up and eat easily - the chilli tastes like a mixture of tamarind sour and slight mirchi pungent. The prawns starters that I had had an interesting accompaniment consisting of chilli flakes and some green herbs.

Dosas. Dosa is what South India has given the world. Dosas are very popular in different parts of the country. So, how is the dosa of Hyderabad different from the rest of the country? Not very different - just a bit more sour than what I would eat at a Ghatkopar Udipi restaurant. What easily took the cake was the sambar and the chutney jiska taste maine sapne mein bhi nahi socha tha. The sambar was thinner than what we get in Mumbai but a tasty mixture of sweet, sour and pungent.

I also happened to taste some Hyderabadi sweet dishes whose names I do not remember. The one I liked the most was a seviyan kheer-cum-basundi which was nice pistachio green in colour. It was thin-but-not-too-thin. It was thick-but-not-too-thick.

If there is anything I have grown up on apart from Cerelac and cough medicines, it is papad. The papads in Hyderabad have a different taste - I did not like them too much. Did not suit my Mumbai taste-buds, perhaps.

Another aamti-like gravy that I tasted in Hyderabad had a rather funny name - Tomato pappu. The bad part is that it was quite ordinary - nothing mentionable apart from the name.

So, my observations about Hyderabadi food: Hyderabadi food has been adapted by restaurants throughout the country. But the authentic Hyderabadi food has the style which the Nawabi palaces of Hyderabad have too. Noticeably, the people from the country who have adopted and adapted Hyderabadi cuisine have not been able to match the standard with the accompaniments that they provide in Hyderabad - the sambar, the mirch ka salan, etc.

It was quite interesting overall - loved it!


  1. must say tht this post was a mouth-watering one.....slurp slurp....:P

  2. With the southern food served in Andhra, to me the speciality was more the chutneys served with the dosais and wadas and idlis.

    For dessert did you try the local specialities - double-kaa-meetha (over sweet and deep fried in ghee bread pudding) and khubani-kaa-meetha (stewed apricots)?