A Gourmet Tour of Historic Hyderabad, India

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Mutton Biryani

A Gourmet Tour in Historical Hyderabad, India

Advance Warning:  You are entering a HIGH CALORIE FOOD ZONE, and are advised to use restraint, which is practically never observed by most tourists!

In Hyderabad, India, you find palaces, pearls, and iconic places like the Charminar and the Golconda Fort.  This Cyber City, as some call it, has been the delight of history buffs and programming geeks alike. But there is something more—its cuisine—carried on over the centuries so much so people here proudly (even humbly!) tag “Hyderabadi” before some delicacies. Because of its classic dishes, Hyderabad must be on the bucket list of gastro-tourist, gourmets (or gluttons if I am not offensive), and connoisseurs. And let me guide you for brief moments before you actually make it there.

Charminar Hyderabad India
Wikimedia Commons By Hari Om Prakash (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Irani Chai (Tea)
So you say Italy is best known for its coffee among many other things? Agreed. And so is Hyderabad famous for the quintessential Irani Chai. It is so called because its patrons were Persians who came and settled here two centuries ago.

As an admitted tea addict (rehabilitation not needed, though!), I headed to one of the best places where I could taste the beverage. Unlike the other ways of making tea, this one is meticulously boiled with tea leaves and then filtered. Then this solution is added to two or three spoonfuls of condensed milk. Trust me, with its unique flavor you will ask for more!

Price: Starts from 15 cents and up
Where: Garden Hotel, Sarvi Bakers, Shah Ghouse House, and any good hotel in Old City. Or you can sip it at any 5-star hotel here.

Chai in India

You cannot visit Hyderabad without tasting Irani Chai, Photo Credit: The Hindu

Hyderabadi Biryani

Empty belly recommended. It sounds weird, right? But you will understand it only when you feel like you could eat a horse. Otherwise you have to take the leftover as a doggy pack. For Hyderabadi Biryani perfectly fits into a lavish lunch or dinner.

And it was all fully packed at Paradise on a fine evening as I was seated comfortably and ordered my favorite Mutton Biryani. Meanwhile, I observed Biryani lovers savoring the food. And then the waiter brought Biryani, Mirchi-ka-Salon (Green Chili curry in refreshing coconut flesh), a cup of artistically cut onion rings, slices of lemon and cucumber, a cup of yogurt garnished with coriander leaves.

As I relished it bite after bite, I thought of calling it a Paradise Dish (if there is any such up there!). With each bite of delectable Biryani, for me it’s a life time gourmet experience.

Price:  Usually it’s about US $5 (without taxes) and it may be more at some restaurants.
Where: Paradise, Café Bahar, Bawarchi, and any good hotel. Here is you can check out Paradise Menu (http://www.paradisefoodcourt.com/)

Mutton Biryani

Mutton Biryani Photo Credit: Paradise Food Court

If you find it difficult to pronounce, call it Stewed Apricot Dessert. Qubani is an Urdu word for Apricot. The dry apricots are soaked overnight before adding their unseeded flesh in sugar syrup, with embellishing of apricot kernels and cream or ice-cream. Take a spoonful of it.  The flesh of stewed Apricot is so soft that even the toothless face no difficulty having it. Moreover, this is a must pick-me-up dessert to finish off the sumptuous meal. It will be available in most of the traditional Hyderabadi restaurants.
Price: about US $ 2 (without taxes)
Where: Paradise

Qubani dessert in India

Qubani Ka Meeta Photo Credit: Telangana Tourism

Sheer Korma
Don’t mistake sheer in its name for an English word, in this instance it is a Persian word for milk. And Korma stands for Dates. Actually it’s vermicelli pudding. This one is an instant hit and my favorite. It tastes delightfully delicious with milk, and generously includes a half dozen varieties of dried fruits. So, call it Hyderabadi delight. One more thing, this dish is usually prepared during special occasions and festivals. However, you can give it a try at home if you miss it here. Or visit Hyderabad in India during festivals like Ramadan.


Hyderabadi Haleem Photo Credit: Telangana Tourism

Paya Nihari
Any soul here that doesn’t like a hot soup on a crisp winter morning? Soups are another thing I just cannot miss. Spicy Paya (trotter) is one such. By the way, I did not share its meaning right. Paya Nihari literally means trotters in the morning in Urdu. This broth is made of goat meat and its trotters. Roti (Indian flat bread) with the stew gives your mornings a yummy start.

Price: Changes from season to season. However, it will not be more than US $ 5.
Where: this soup is mostly seasonal, and will be available at almost all leading outlets in winter.

I didn’t know what it meant to be indulgent until having Falooda. It’s a desert. Funny part of Falooda (maybe not for mothers) is children having it drip around their lips, some running over their chin and clothes. You cannot miss this cold desert drink on your gourmet tour in Hyderabad in India, without having it.

Price:  Just over US $1.
Where: Almost all leading eateries sell it.

Loved the royal cuisine, right?  Not just the rich food, the city has rich cultural legacy, too. And it still lingers with its rich gastro-historical heritage. Get to Hyderabad in India (http://www.indianeagle.com/cheap-flights-from-asheville-avl-to-hyderabad-hyd/) that richly feeds you, and says gastronomically yours.

About The Author: Aaria John is a travel writer, freelancer, and loves good food.

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