My favorite time of the year is here! The month of Ramadan. The time to try out as many different tasty treats as I can across India. Without feeling guilty in the name of religion ofcourse! God will forgive me for all those extra calories I consume!During the week that just went by, I was fortunate to be in Hyderabad- the city of Nizams, and took my roomie on a couple of food safaris. The two places that captivated our palates were Toli Chowki and Charminar chowk ( the old city).
I must warn the faint heart that eating a Hyderabadi Iftar is a 6-course meal. Hyderabad is full of Iranian Muslims and this reflects in the food, which during Iftar is a mix of Mughlai, Arabic and Duccani (Deccan or Hyderabad).
So here is how we recommend you go about your meal, or as we call it – “Food Safari”!
The first thing to try is definitely Haleem. From the moment you enter the city, you will see this dish being served at every nook and corner. The reason it is eaten so much is its rich calorie content, which serves as an instant energy source. It is made by pounding meat (mainly goat), wheat, lentils into one big mix and is topped with dry fruits and saffron. Add a little lemon, to give it that tangy zing. Its origin lies in the Middle East but this dish is now synonymous with Hyderabadi food. Recommended places to try this dish are at – Mandar, Pista House and Shah Ghouse.
If the Haleem makes it past your digestive system, do not miss out on the famous Hyderabadi Kebabs! You get all varieties on the roadside stalls of Charminar. Right from Malai tikka, to Chicken tikka, to Pahadi kebabs and the list is endless. If it is a four-legged animal, they can make a Keabab out of it!
Don’t forget to try the Pathar ka ghost (mutton cooked on a granite stone over charcoal), giving it, its very unique flavor. Garnished with onion rings and lemon wedges it melts in your mouth. There is a special fluffy roti you can enjoy these with which is a must try.
Enjoy your kebabs at kebab house, in Charminar and …
If Arabic is what makes your taste buds buzz, try the chicken Shwarma & Chicken Muttabaq. The succulent pieces of chicken are eaten with some pita bread accompanied by a garlic dip, hummus (chickpea) dip or tahini (sesame) dip. Also grab yourself some Muttabaq also known as Murtabaq, which originates from Yemen. These are two pancakes joined together with some egg, spring onion and a lot of meat (chicken / or mutton) in between.Flavor these Middle Eastern dishes at Ice n Spice.
How can one get by Hyderabad without trying out the local Biryani. Now which one do you eat? There is the Nizam’s or the Hyderabadi Biryani,filled with lots of spices, or the Arabic Mandi which is a little less fiery than the former but has a wonderful and strong aroma and is full of flavour. Unlike its Hyderabadi counterpart, which is eaten with Salan ki mirchi and raita, this is consumed with garlic and meat broth and tomato chutney. The dry fruits in it add a great crunch to this. You can enjoy Mandi at Mandar, at Paradise, Bawarchi, Shahghouse and Shadaab restaurant.
And if you still have place left in your stomach for your sweet tooth, try some dessert! There are many Arabic sweets like Ummali, Baklava, or my favorite Kunafa: some seviya, held together with honey and mascarpone cheese. These are the tastiest at Four Season restaurant. Don’t like Arabic sweets? Not to worry. There is a whole lot of Indian variety with Kesar (saffron) and almond milk or the famous double ka meetha. This is very flavorful bread, fragranced with rose water and dripping in condensed milk. It gets all the richness from saffron and a whole lot of dry fruits. Grab a Double ka meetha at Pista House, its truly delicious and finger licking good. Want something closer to home, than drink up some rose Falooda at Shah Ghouse.
End this delightful meal, with some liquid, either a lassi especially from Hyderabad. Yes people here add a whole lot of rose, and dry fruit to their lassi, or some chai (tea), which is infused with Kesar. Shah Ghouse is a famous Irani chai shop. Not the liquid types? Grab yourself some paan, to get a minty flavor.
Some tips while eating here:
1. Eat in 2 areas Toli Chowki and Charminar.
2. Restaurants in Toli Chowki: Shah Ghouse, Mandar, Ice n Spice and Four Seasons.
3. Charminar has the most famous Pista House, so check it out. There are many around, but this is the original, and the best.
4. All your kebabs are mainly at the Charminar food stalls.
5. Arabic dessert is a must at Four Seasons.
6. Try and go in a group so there is more variety to try out
I`m already getting withdrawal symptoms from all that Hyderabadi Iftar! With all of this I’m also remembering my last year Ramadan feast in mumbai. Read about it here https://www.globejamun.com/ramadan-mubarak-eid-food-trail/
Can the next year come any sooner?