Look beyond Biryani and dig into these four iconic dishes of Hyderabad, instead. By Meenakshi. J
Hyderabad’s culinary space is a flavoursome melange of the region’s local ingredients (such as tamarind and sesame) and those brought in by the Turks and Arabs. With a plethora of delicacies beyond the eponymous Biryani under its fold and over 12 per cent of the city’s population dependent on the food industry, it’s no wonder that Hyderabad made it to UNESCO’s Creative Cities of Gastronomy list, as well as PETA’s Most Vegan-friendly Indian City in 2019.
So, here’s a list of four iconic dishes of Hyderabad and the best places to enjoy them in the city.
Dishes of Hyderabad
1. Ameer Khuwani Biryani at Adaa, Taj Falaknuma Palace
Perched on a hillock at 2,000 feet overlooking the cityscape is the 19th-century scorpion-shaped erstwhile Nizam residence, refurbished as Taj Falaknuma Palace. And, tucked away inside its palatial expanse is Adaa, which dishes out famed Hyderabadi fare such as Ameer Khuwani Biryani—a kachche gosht ki biryani [made with raw, marinated mutton cooked between layers of rice] topped with Seekh Kebab.
Chef Sajesh Nair recommends another iconic dish. “We have curated a gastronomical extravaganza from the Nizam’s kitchen by following Khansama’s (royal cooks’) cooking style. The Zimarkand Shikampuri Kebab is a hit with our guests who prefer vegetarian food. The meat is substituted with yam, yet it retains the unique tastes of the original delicacy.”
2. Dakhni Chowgra at Dum Pukht Begum’s, ITC Kohenur
Situated in HITEC City facing lake Durgam Cheruvu, Dum Pukht Begum’s is a new restaurant at ITC Kohenur.
“We, at Dum Pukht Begum, focus on preserving rather than re-inventing the cuisine of the region by offering a plethora of flavours through unique combinations of meat and vegetables, rarely found in the rest of the country,” says Executive Chef Yogen Datta. “Our menu does a fine job of bringing out hidden jewels from the dining rooms of aristocratic families of the Deccan region,” he adds.
The recipes served within the hotel are complemented by Dum Pukht cuisine (a process of slow-cooking to retain rich flavours) alongside Telangana and Andhra specialities. The highly recommended vegetarian dish, Dakhni Chowgra—made with a stir-fry of beans, vegetables and greens—has lured many food connoisseurs.
3. Nizami Handi at Firdaus, Taj Krishna
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Located in the upscale Banjara Hills, Taj Krishna is one of the oldest five-star properties of Hyderabad. And Firdaus, a fine-dining restaurant is cocooned at this hotel adorned with pastel walls, which are embellished by latticed screens and chandeliers. Here, diners are treated to the region’s popular dishes coupled with a soothing ambience and enthralling ghazal performances. Executive Chef Md Shahid Hossain recommends the popular vegetarian dish Nizami Handi, a dish made by tossing mixed vegetables in an onion, tomato and cashew gravy meticulously prepared as was once done by Khansama.
4. Qubani Ka Meetha at Once Upon a Time, Hotel GreenPark
Speaking about the restaurant, GreenPark Hotels and Resorts’ Chef-Partner, Vignesh Ramachandran, says, “Apart from offering dishes from the region, we also specialise in putting forth an elaborate eight-course Deccan Tales dinner menu (an array of Hyderabadi dishes crafted with a contemporary touch) served on black-coloured crockery so that the textures and colours of the dishes pop.”
Excited about the city’s upgraded status as UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, Ramachandran confesses that the recognition has thrown light on the unique taste and food techniques of the region that were relegated to secondary status when compared to the more popular Mughlai or Punjabi cuisines. He is glad that finally, the world will recognise Hyderabadi cuisine beyond its eponymous Biryani and recommends Qubani Ka Meetha, an authentic Hyderabadi dessert made of fresh apricots.