Hyderabad, food is not just something to fill the stomach;
it is the very essence of life. The quintessential Hyderabad
is known for its nawabi lifestyle--a gracious but rather
laid-back way of life. Food is best created with fursat
and mohabbat--with time and love. In Hyderabad you will
rarely find a biryani carelessly overcooked to a sticky
mush or left too dry. Every Hyderabadi cook worth his salan
will test the quality of the biryani cooked by spraying
a handful on the floor. Only if each grain of rice falls
separately does it make the grade.
also has the tradition of the 'midnight biryani', where
close to the witching hour several hotels bring out large
handis of biryani, which have been simmering on slow dum
pukht for the better part of the day. These eat-all-you-can
biryani buffets are very popular with late-night revelers.
It has taken the highly developed and refined Mughal cuisine
of the North and imbibed it with the zesty sauces and spices
of the South to create a vast and seductive repertoire quite
its own. Hyderabadi food, as it has come to be known, like
the city's culture, heritage and language, is a melange
of several influences--Hindu, Muslim, North, South, Indian
Hyderabadi favorite, Haleem is obviously middle-eastern
import is traditionally a mild, easily digested meat and
wheat porridge eaten by Muslims for Iftar to break the Ramzan
fast. But the delicious Hyderabadi reincarnation is a meal
in itself, which besides being served at weddings and other
celebrations, can be found the year round in almost all
restaurants. Nehari is another famous food item readily
available during Ramzan but harder to find the rest of the
year. This is an exotic mix of local herbs and spices, including
sandalwood powder, dried rose petals, khus or vevitar roots
and a host of other things, which are all tied up in a muslin
cloth and dropped into the soup as it simmers.
The Hyderabadis do have rather unusual ways of seasoning
their food: in thirki dal, a piece broken off a freshly
fired earthen pot is heated red and then added to the dal
to give it a rich earthy aroma. Hyderabadi cuisine is admittedly
far more non-vegetarian than vegetarian. It's not that the
Hyderabadis don't eat vegetables; they just prefer to cook
them with meat because they believe vegetables taste better
that way. But the cuisine's vast repertoire does include
classic vegetarian delights such as the baghare baigan,
mirchi ka salan, achar ke aloo and tomato kutt. It also
boasts of a wide range of dals, chutneys and pickles.
you think about Hyderabadi sweets the first things that
come to mind are double ka meetha and khubbani ka meetha.
You might be tempted to think that the former gets its name
from the generous amounts of sugar it's cooked in. However,
it actually gets its name from the double roti--the common
north Indian term for bread--used to make this dessert.
Khubbani ka meetha is made from the pulp of apricots and
is normally had with dollops of fresh cream or ice cream.
If you enjoy ice creams--not too creamy, more like fruit
sorbets--then a visit to Famous Ice Cream at the Moazzamzai
Market is a must. This Hyderabadi favourite is located in
what used to once be the wholesale fruit and vegetable market.
It's a rather basic looking ice cream parlour but it whips
up some of the most delicious fruit sorbets. Opposite the
ice cream shop is the Karachi bakery. Its signboard still
proudly advertises the royal patronage it once enjoyed from