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The black clouds in the distance were fast approaching. The looming rain was bound to break out, clouds ready to shed the load that they’ve been carrying. I looked into the distance, lost in my thoughts – in retrospect. That’s when most of the answers led to opening a can of beer. Isn’t a glass of beer answer to most questions?

A quick pop of the can of Hunter and I was back to enjoying the lovely weather. As I popped open the can of Hunter, I couldn’t but help noticing their tagline – ‘Honestly Smooth, Refreshingly Strong. How true were they to their tagline? I was just about to now find out. India is a market ruled primarily by strong beers. Some of them total swile and some of them just plain undrinkable. Hunter is the best among a lot of Strong Beers.

Hunter Beer 2

Despite being a strong beer, you can get a lager-ish taste from Hunter Beer. The moment I poured it in my glass, the clean white head formed right on top, which dissipated quite quickly. The pale, strawy color, I quite liked the beer for its smoothness coming off the unique brewing of handpicked ingredients. The first sip off my glass and I could feel the smooth and crisp taste of the lager. It does help greatly that the hops used in Hunter Beer are the ‘Hersbrucker’ variety which are directly imported in from Germany.

Hunter Beer 1

I truly enjoyed my glass of Hunter beer and would recommend this to all the strong beer lovers out there. I do occasionally pick up a bottle of strong beer and Hunter has been a good choice among the innumerable ones which have inundated the Indian market. It does help that they’ve come out as Winners in the Monde Selection Quality Award and the beer itself finds the right balance between malts and hops.

Hunter Beer 3

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The newest property of ITC Hotels, doesn’t just redefine luxury, it ups the swankiness meter and yet stays true to the #ReponsibleLuxury theme. I walked through the doors of ITC Kohenur to be wowed by the chandeliers and a massive lobby. There is the elegantly done Peacock Bar on the left, the Golkonda Pavilion in the center and the receotion on the right with a massive chandelier made of lac bangles hanging right above.

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ITC Kohenur

The place oozes the Nizami charm and yet still incorporates the modern touch. My room was truly splendid. Each of the settings of the room can be controlled using an iPad. But I will have to definitely talk about the Pillow Menu. I’ve stayed at many hotels across the world but it’s simple thoughts like this which make a Hotel truly spectacular. The ITC Kohenur, surrounded by the Durgan Cheruvu from all sides is an engineering marvel. A true kohenur in ITC’s and Hyderabad’s crown.

ITC Kohenur Room

ITC Kohenur Room

Peacock Bar

Peacock Bar

Dum Pukht Begum:

With the ITC Kohenur, comes the ITC Hotel’s most famous restaurant, the Dum Pukht. There was a time when a person had walked up to me and said ‘Indian food is truly hard to photograph and make appealing.’ Well you haven’t been to the Dum Pukht then. The massive ceilings, the menu, the aroma of Indian food, the Dum Pukht Begum is a restaurant par excellence.

Dum Pukht Begum

Dum Pukht Begum

 

Dum Pukht BegumDum Pukht Begum

I will have to talk about the Kakori Kebabs that I had at Dum Pukht Begum. The softest, exquisitely delicious and melt in mouth. I was left short of words for a minute or two and so were the others at my table. They absolutely melted away in my mouth and yet the spices didn’t overpower the meat.

Gucchi Pulao Dum Pukht Begum

The Dum Pukht Begum also incorporates Hyderabadi dishes into the original Dum Pukht menu. The Mahi Qaliya, Chowgra and Dum ka Murgh which you wouldn’t find in most places in the city have been proudly showcased.

Dum Pukht Begum

But that has always been the beauty of the Dum Pukhts across the ITC Hotel properties that I’ve dined at. Each of the dishes served stay tuned to the authenticity and have been well researched.

Golkonda Pavilion:

The ITC Kakatiya has it’s Deccan Pavilion while the ITC Kohenur has the Golkonda Pavilion. It’s only fitting to have named it as the Golkonda Pavilion as the Golkonda mines was where the world famous Kohinoor diamond was unearthed. Like I said, every aspect of the ITC Kohenur has a story to tell.

Golkonda Pavilion

ITC Kohenur Breakfast

Golkonda Pavilion

Post a great sleep, I had a wonderful Sunbeam Coffee at the Golkonda Coffee. ITC has invested heavily to bring forth specialty coffees with their Sunbeam range of which I’m a great fan, favorite being the Panagiri roast.

Croissant For Breakfast

Ottimo & Sky Bar:

Ottimo is their Italian specialty restaurant which opens up to the beautifully designed Sky Bar. They both have yet to launch but I can already feel them both being the talking point in whole of Indian. It’s modern, it’s suave and most importantly it’s chic. Imagine sitting at the Sky Bar, overlooking the Hyderabad skyline while sipping on cocktails. The view can’t get any better than this.

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The ITC Kohenur is a ‘gem’. The beauty and effort put into designing the ITC Kohenur sings in it’s pathways and corridors. We might not have the Kohinoor yet, but we do have a Kohenur.

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With Chefs nowadays willing to experiment a lot more than earlier, the many other regional cuisines of India are now getting their due. I’ve always been an exponent of the richness of Odia cuisine and extolled of it’s many nuances. But sadly the Odia food was always relegated within the borders.

Odia Food Festival 1

You’d find Odia chefs all over India in literally every kitchen, yet they’d be cooking everything else other than their own food. For a cuisine which has been always compared and termed similar to Bengali, it’s great to see chefs finally it’s due.

Odia Food Festival 4

And I must say Chef Amit Dash has done one fabulous job. It isn’t just the regular dishes which were already known like the Pakhala and Chenna Poda which made it to the buffet but also the ones from Western and Southern Odisha too. He has done his research by bringing in such richness of food heritage to a food festival.

Odia Food Festival 2

I was very happy to see the Pakhala Live Counter. I was pleasantly surprised when there was a comment that it’s a poor man’s food. The Pakhala is a meal in itself, a one bowl meal of sorts. Much like the Ramens, Thukpas and the likes, the Pakhala packs itself in a single bowl. The accompaniments do a great job to enhance the taste but aren’t specifically necessary. That’s the beauty of the fermented rice dish.

The other dish which completely stunned me at the buffet was Mudi Mangsho, a typical wedding/tribal dish from Balasore. In originality the puffed rice is tossed over with fresh produce and mutton kassa of sorts to make a beautiful and enticing dish. It’s like Jhalmudi (Bhelpuri) had a non-vegetarian cousin.

The main course paid homage to the rich non-vegetarian heritage of the state while also showcasing it’s temple food. Many of Odia food have their origins from the numerous temples which dot the state. The Jaganath Temple, Puri has been instrumental in changing the desserts in India. The Dalma was there and so was the Kanika. But my happiness was unmatched when it comes to the Chilika Crabs.

My grandmom was born in and around Chilika, so whenever we had relatives visiting. There would be a huge basket of fresh crabs which came alongside them. Chilika Crabs for me literally define the term ‘Foodgasm’. And Chef Amit Dash cooked it perfectly. Happy was I breaking away at the claws and mixing along the runny gravy with plain white rice.

Odia Food Festival 3

Does the Odia Food Festival at Feast, Sheraton do a great job at showcasing the food of Odisha? It’ll be a resounding Yes from my end. With Chef Amit Dash at the helm it couldn’t have been any better. And also did I mention the dessert section is just huge.

Odia Food Festival 5

Odia Food Festival 6

The Odia Food Festival is part of the buffet at Feast, Sheraton Hyderabad.

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Last Update : 31st March 2018

We felt that most of the lists for the best Haleems across Hyderabad have never been updated. Some of the outlets have ceased to exist while others rely on crowd sourcing. A personal opinion in compiling an extensive list has been lacking. So I’ve taken on the task to have at least 30 Haleems this year to provide an updated list of places in Hyderabad. Kindly note the word ‘personal opinion’ and all of these have been personally tasted and compiled.

The Ramzan month especially heralds the start of our “Iftaar Walks”. If you haven’t signed up yet, all of the event details have been posted on the FoodDrifter facebook page.

1. Pakwaan Grand : If there was an award for consistency, these guys deserve it more than anyone else. It’s been 3 years since I’ve had my Haleem here and they have blown my mind every single time. I mean just look at that plate of Mashad Haleem. The recipe uses chunks of mutton with minimal bones. The result is a much meatier and flavorful Haleem than anyone else. Generously added on top are Ghee, Cream, Fried Onions, Pistachios, Cashews and Lime. It had come very close to being the No. 1 on our list last year. This year it might just be?

Mashad Haleem priced at Rs 180/-

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2. Simply South, Filmnagar : One of my favorite Haleems of last year. In fact they’ve been so consistent with their Haleem that I drop by for a visit no matter what. A makeshift traditional handi over firewood is made at the back of the kitchen. All of the spice mix is hand pounded and the Haleem made using the traditional recipe.

This year Simply South has tweaked the grain to make it a different variant of white broken wheat. This lends it a much darker shade due to the spices and meat. The recipe is more of the Nizami style with a great flavor profile coming off the peppercorns and cinnamon. Its quite a huge quantity, enough for two people. Served alongside are the fresh lime wedges, mint, fried onions and cashews.

Priced at 450 AI

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3. SodaBottleOpenerwala : A Gyarah Haleem fest which started off last year with great success has been recreated this year too. Expanded to include an outside stall for the showcase of all the Gyarah Handis, they’ve gone on to make nearly 3 veg variants.

But Haleem and vegetarian, two words which shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. In fact I’d go nowhere close to the Chicken one too. But they should be awarded high marks for the Duck, Turkey and Prawns variants. Absolutely nowhere would you be able to get such varieties. But my standard order as always went for the Persian Haleem. Their Persian Haleem till date remains an absolute favorite of mine among the Gyarah Handi. Mild on spices, a nice little wheatish color and the strings of mutton that I can feel with every spoonful. They’ve now tweaked their Irani Haleem too.

Persian Mutton Haleem Price – Rs 400/-

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4. Peshawar Restaurant, Lakdikapul : I was quite excited to try the Haleem at Peshawar despite the fact that this is the first time they’ve put a stall. The restaurant has slowly but steadily become one of my favorites in the city. The Nalli Barrah, Chapli Kebabs and Biryani are some of the best you can entice your tastebuds with.

But we’re here to talk about the Haleem, aren’t we? Mild on spices with beautiful chunks of mutton in every bite. They’ve done a very good balancing act between placing the taste between a homemade Haleem and a commercial one.

I’d make do without the whole peppercorns which seem to appear once in a while. The texture is lovely and also ain’t that rich that you can’t slurp down a bowl.

Priced at Rs 150/-

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5. Al-Saba, Gachibowli : Imagine having one of the most worst tasting Haleems that you vowed never to return back to the place. Well that was Al-Saba for me once upon a time. To this day I look at the place while driving across and think “What do people even like over there?”

But this year I’ve gone back to pushing away my earlier notions of the past and giving old haunts another chance. And I’m glad this led me back to Al-Saba. For all the people who live towards Gachibowli, do yourself a favor and chuck the Shah Ghouse and Pista Houses. Al-Saba is actually so so much better. Plus I really really liked the fact that they were patient in explaining it to a Haleem newbie with a smile when the person beside me enquired about it. The refill of brown onions and mint was given to whoever asked. And most importantly there was no Sherwa but gher which they dolloped on top. It has definitely won me over.

Priced at Rs 140/-

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6. Cafe Bahar : There is something about going back to the oldest cafes in Hyderabad. An underlying reason as to why such legendary places continue to survive despite the expansion of the rest. Cafe Bahar for me is one such. Their Biryani till date is one of my favorites.

But its their Haleem which has remained consistent too year after year. There is no over the top marketing or combos offered. Other than the pet bottle of pepsi you get free with you Haleem, one that they’ve been giving for years now.

The Haleem is still great, the person at the counter still smiles as he hands me over a bowl. And neither do they object when I ask for a refill of some fried onions on top. People park their vehicles, have a quick bowl and go about their way. Cafe Bahar continues to be a legend in its own way.

Priced at Rs 140 with a free 250ml of Pepsi

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7. Ohri’s Group : Ohri’s Group of restaurants have a lovely iftaar platter across few of their outlets with Jauzi Halwa, Dates, Lukmi and Haleem.

The Haleem was quite flavorful and rich. Doesn’t go overboard with the spices and maintains consistency. Infact, I did keep some in the refrigerator to be had the next day. And my morning breakfast consisted of Toasted Bread with a spread of Haleem. Has anyone tried it this way? Also btw Haleem on Pizza is the absolute BEST.

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8. Hotel Nayaab : And diving right back into our Haleem stories is this one from Hotel Nayaab. A little spicy, very peppery and overall a great texture.

Hotel Nayaab is one of the initial Cafes which started serving Haleem commercially. What was supposed to a breakfast dish soon became a Ramzan special coz of the preparation time and heaviness of the dish.

Priced at Rs 150/-

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9. Cafe 555, Masab Tank : First up is the legendary Cafe 555. You’d imagine that this Irani Cafe which was a favorite of mine 2-3 years ago and still does good numbers would be making delicious Haleem. Sadly not, 3 spoons down and I couldn’t have it anymore. The bones were minimal but it was just damn spicy. I actually kept getting whole peppercorns in my mouth.

The ratio of meat has significantly reduced. And they really need to clean up the place, its much dirtier than I remember it to be. Its just the start of Ramzan so hopefully they take care of this as the month progresses. The sherwa was still great though. They are really famous for their special Haleem which is topped up with Chicken 65, Zubaan and a boiled egg. Top it with anything, but if your base ain’t good. It just doesn’t work then. Enjoyable but a shadow of it’s former self.

Bowl of Haleem – Rs. 160/-                                          Special Haleem – Rs. 300/-

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10. Hotel Sohail :This year it has been a bit disappointing of sorts when it comes to the Haleems at the legendary outlets.

Maybe its that the newer entrants have upped their game. Or the fact that I’ve been having some really good stuff as of late. I mean don’t get me wrong, the Haleem from Hotel Sohail was nice.

But you know the feeling that it could have been so much better. They top up the Haleem with two types of ghee. One in which onions had been fried and one the regular. Good stuff though.

Priced at Rs 150/-

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11. Hotel Shahran : Another one among the Haleems from Old City. I should really stick to either the Boti or Seekh Kebabs with Warqi Paratha.

The Haleem is definitely not their strong suit. In fact they were so much better last year. All I could feel in mouth was fat from the mutton. Entirely coated my throat making it hard to swallow another spoonful. This is one money which could have been better spent elsewhere.

Priced at Rs 150/-

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12. Shahi Dastarkhwan, Lakdikapul : When located in front of better ones as the newly opened Peshawar and Chicha’s , you really need to pick up your socks to make a very very good Haleem.

But sadly Shahi Dastarkhwan didn’t really put that to any use in their Handi. None of the large LEDs, bright enough to replace the street lights will be able to get in customers if you’re product isn’t good.

The Haleem is very pasty where the broken wheat’s taste overpowers the taste of meat. Also it doesn’t help that they have a large number of whole peppercorns.

Priced at Rs 160/-

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The past few days my Facebook timeline has been filled with friends and relatives in Odisha relishing a glass of Lassi. Now Lassi is such a colloquial term to be writing about when it’s readily available in every street corner in the country. But this kind of the Lassi is a special one that sure has to be told about.

Back during my childhood, I’d cycle back from school and with the pocket money given to me. With the small amount jingling in my pocket I had to choose between either spending on the vendors standing outside my school or cycle back to my favorite Lassi point. I’ve always been a picky person with a knack for discovering right from the time I was a kid. Not boasting of it, but it was just that my friendship revolved around people who’d come to for recommendations.

The burning 46C temperature didn’t matter as I wizzed past in the traffic for my glass of Lassi. Let’s also face it that having got the preparation of chenna right hundreds of years ago, Odisha was going to be come up with something creative it’s Lassi. While Punjab and Varanasi variants are talked about across whole of India, you haven’t had a Lassi until you’ve tasted the one at Lingaraj Lassi. But Lingaraj Lassi had never been my favorite but rather the ones in Cuttack.

Odisha Lassi - 1

The other day I was reading a humorous take of one of my fellow Odia blogger who felt who’d been swindled by having a lassi in Delhi. Yes, I do too feel the same everytime I want to have one during the summers. Rest of the seasons in India, you’d not find me complaining, but the summers are kind of special time for this. In fact the Lassi in Odisha is so thick that you’d ever find any blended dahi (yogurt) in them.

Let me take you over the entire process of how one is made in a typical stall. First comes crushed ice, syrup, curd and essence in each of the tall glass. As the person makes upto 50 glasses at a time, each of the glasses are hand-mixed at high levels. This is then topped off with a thick layer of rabdi (condensed milk), nuts, raisins and cherries. A glass of the Lassi and you’re set until your next meal. They are super heavy.

So the next time I order a glass of Lassi while sitting in a restaurant all I’ll feel is a dampness in my soul of missing a part of summer I liked. The summers in Odisha have been cruel but this was a respite. Best Rs 10/- spent once upon a time has now been hit by price rice. The last I remember they’d sky rocketed to about 40 bucks. Others might think that it still isn’t much. But for us Odias when eating in our state, anything costing beyond or nearing 50 bucks is considered pricey.

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When lost in thought about Goa, the endless beaches, the vibe and most importantly the great seafood and coastal cuisine comes to mind. Goa has been taken over by restaurants and cafes serving such varied dishes from around the world. This so happened to make the traditional cuisine of theirs become relegated to the homes. I mean other than the Cafreal, Vindaloo and Xacuti, it is only now that the other superbly prepared Goan dishes are gaining ground.

This is exactly what excited me about the Goan Food Festival at the Park Hyatt. The food festival helmed by Chef Tanuja from Casa Sarita, Park Hyatt Goa was showcasing the Portuguese influence on Goan food. Now a point that I wanted to iterate is about the way the menu was set-up. Starting off with the regular flavors you’d expect about Goa was the Chicken Jire Mire, a burst of coarsely ground spices of cumin and black pepper. Alongside was the Goan Masala Fried Fish, with the tartness of Goan vinegar, Fenugreek Vegetable Cutlets and Mushroom stuffed with vegetables, cheese and homemade spices. These are the kind of perfect combinations you’d expect to give you company on the sandy beaches alongside a glass of Feni and Limca.

Chicken Jire Mire

Mushrooms stuffed with Vegetable, Cheese and Homemade Spices

Fenugreek Vegetable Cutlets

But it was the Soups and Salads that caught me by surprise. The Kismur, a salad like preparation using dried fish with bell peppers, tomato and coriander was exquisitely wonderful with an eclectic mix of coconut. This might be a little off-putting for a person who’s having dried prawns for the first time but not for my East Indian palate. This is something that we too grew up with and I could relate to the similarities between the two extreme corners of the country. The Cabbage Salad was refreshing while the Caldo Verde Soup was the right showcase of Portuguese influences on Goan food. The Potato and Spinach soup is popular in European cuisines and had slowly seeped into the local food under the Portuguese rule.

Cabbage Salad

 

 

Time for the Main Course and out came the most famous dishes which reverberate Goa. The Goan Prawns Curry with simple rice was relaxing to have and so was the Mushroom Xacuti. I did miss the Poi which had been replaced with Pav over here. After the biggest influence the Portuguese have got into India is the culture of Bread. But the favorite during my meal at the Park Hyatt was the Pork Vindaloo. Not overtly vinegary or spicy, the right mix of fat and meat which turned out to be absolutely brilliant.

Goan Prawns Curry

Mushroom Xacuti

Chicken Cafreal

Bhindi Shukem

A sweet conclusion it truly was with Mangane, a lentil and sago pudding with coconut and jiggery alongside a slice of Bebinca. The Goan Food Festival is on at Park Hyatt Hyderabad till the 21st January as part of the buffet at The Dining Room. However there is a choice of a la carte. The Buffet is priced at Rs 1500++

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This blogpost is a continuation of an idea that formed with Kalyan Karmakar’s Facebook post. He talked about Vegetarian Brahmin cuisine from the South which kind of put him off as it had been termed Brahmin. Although with the change in today’s societal shift in removal of the caste system, I can’t help but disagree with the fact that the caste system, religion, land and wealth went on to define the food in a household.

Religion as a context shouldn’t apply to today’s behavioral concepts but yet holds paramount importance when it comes to food. With the practice of one’s faith came an amalgamation of local dishes and belief. The caste system gave birth to many such dishes like the use of offal parts which wasn’t bought by the well to do. This can be beautifully highlighted especially in the Telangana cuisine. Despite being under one of the wealthiest rulers in the country, the food of Telangana has always taken a backseat. The ruler believed in keeping his subjects under a lot of pressure. So if most of the citizens are going to be thinking on how to get their next meal, the probability of a rebellion happening decreases. Thus you see a lot of usage of Boti, Gurdha and Keema in the cuisine of Telangana with the most basic spices than the numerous dishes which originated out of Andhra, a fertile belt with a vast shoreline.

But the topic I want to really get into is the Rajputs. There has been plenty of coverage in recent times about the Rajputs because of a movie. But let’s look into this from an angle of culinary history. Now the Rajputs weren’t confined to Rajasthan alone and expanded as far to Central India and Odisha. As most of the invaders came into Indian through the north, they gradually bought in their food too. Hence this led to a seepage of Mughal influences into Rajputana food too.

As they say in India that the language changes every six kilometers, for food that changes with every household. This can be perfectly illustrated with the Laal Maas. Just like the many fictional characters created by literature, this is one fictional dish which arose out of Recipe books. There is no known time frame as to when the Laal Maas went on to be defined what it is now. In fact the many Rajput food historians absolutely do agree that the Laal Maas is a colossal imagination formed out of thin air.

Junglee Maas (Chicken)

The Laal Mass is what we can ingenuously put down as a jhol that is made in many Indian homes. I had heard of a competition happening where the judge said that the original recipe of Laal Maas is only made using the chilies from Mathania, a village in Jodhpur. This is where geography comes into play because the village of Mathania ceased to exist long ago and so did it’s chilies. So the next time you head to Amazon.in to buy the best Mathania for preparing the Laal Maas, this might be worth remembering. So if the chilies were only to be sourced in Mathania, didn’t the kingdoms of Begu, Bhainsrorgash and the other 10-12 kingdoms which make up now Rajasthan have Laal Maas at all?

If the gravy was white and used green chilies, it was called Safed Maas and when red, it was called Laal Maas. This is the most uncomplicated way of putting the nomenclature of a dish whose origins have been a subject of much debate. The Laal Maas uses the most basic ingredients: onions (an approx. of 250 gms to a kilo of Meat. The more the onions the sweeter the Laal Maas turns out to be), Ginger, Garlic, Chili and Coriander Powder, Turmeric Powder, Salt and Khada Masala for the initial tempering in the oil. The curd is used as a souring agent although some of the households do use a little bit of tomatoes too.

Moving on to the part on how the caste and wealth play a major part in making of Laal Maas lay in the tempering. While the wealthy households tempered with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and the likes. The not-so-well-to-do families used the Pathar ka Phool in the tempering. It is believed that this gave a much fuller taste to the Laal Maas as they had to make do with the least amount of dishes and hence a more enhancement of flavor unlike the rich who had variety.

So does the Caste System, Religion, Region and Money play a major role in food? It is a huge resounding YES from my end.

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We as humans have evolved from a civilization of gatherers. There was time when royals would venture out on hunting expeditions which sometimes lasts days. The game meat then had to be cooked in the wild using rustic cooking methods. This gave evolution to the Sand and Stone cooking methods.

The Sand pits were quite popular in desert and arid areas where the meat was packed in a parcel and placed inside the hot sand. This heat cooked the meat evenly giving way to a dish which was nearly fall-apart. The marinades for the meat could be of different types based on the spice availability of the region. The sand cooking technique was liberal in it’s use of spices making the food, fiery hot. This led to the body giving of sweat which in turn acted as a cooling mechanism. There’s always so much history to learn through the evolution of food. And this is exactly what Chef Angshuman and Team at Bidri, Marriott Hyderabad showcase with their ‘Sand & Stone’ Festival.

Pathar ka Paneer Tikka

Two years ago Bidri had organized a Stone and Wood Fire festival. This time there is an extension of selection in the food options which have lot of vegetarian options too. Off the vegetarian side of the menu my favorites were the Bharwan Karela and the Sand smoked mushrooms. I absolutely love bitter-gourds unlike many, especially when it comes with a filling. With the Sand Roasted Bharwan Karela, the chefs have filled the bitter-gourd with spicy potatoes, nuts and cilantro and cooked it in sand. Bidri has actually built a make-shift sand-pit in the outdoor area which heats the sand from the bottom.

Arbi Aur Chnna ka Shammi

The Pathar ka Gosht is quite a familiarity with Hyderabadi cuisine. If you ever venture out to the Old City, you’d find a lot of street vendors making this famous Hyderabad dish on a slab of granite. Thin strips of meat are let to break down with raw papaya. This helps in cooking the meats to cook much easier on the stone slab. The rest among the non-vegetarians include Pathar ka Pomfret, Prawns among many other. My favorite among all the dishes was the Sikandari Raan where a whole leg of lamb was marinated in a mix of malt, vinegar, spice rub and cooked in the sand. The meat was deliciously tender and beautiful.

Sikandari Raan

Sometimes you want to sit down for a meal and not have to think on what’s happening on your plate. The traditional Indian style of cooking methods have always been special and will continue to do so. Kudos to the chefs of Bidri for truly showcasing Indian history on a plate.

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Brunches are like a gift that you should shower yourself with once in a while. I’ve always been a fan of brunches and still occasionally go for them once in a while with friends. Waking up late on a Sunday and heading straight for a brunch. That’s my kind of lazy Sunday pampering.

Kebabs

There is no denying that The Park hotel is a beautiful hotel. Overlooking the Hussain Sagar with an infinity pool, I don’t mind sipping on G&Ts al day while soaking in this view. The Brunch at The Park had a bit of everything. I started off my afternoon with a bit of childhood memories. Delightful Maggi Counters and Croissants, just the right start to my day. The Maggi can be prepared in any particular way of your choice.

Popcorn At The Children's Counter

Fruits Counter

But don’t fill up just yet. This is just the start to so much more creative counters set by the Chefs. Going along the gourmet lines are Sushi and Pastas. There were almost 3 variants each of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian sushi during my time. The Salmon Volcano was my favorite, where the substituted a roll of salmon instead of rice. The Barbeque Station offers a mix between Hyderabadi and North Indian. There were fillets of chicken and marinated fish. The Seekh Kebab were good too.

Irani Chai Counter

Irani Chai

Now to my favorite side of The Park brunch. Seldom do I see any hotel in the city offering Mandi as part of a brunch. Biryani always plays a much bigger role, but this Arabian dish has been slowly stealing away at people’s heart in the city. The Khabsa served at The Park was a standout and spectacular. The aroma of the rice gave way to an even exquisite taste. The chicken was tender and went wonderfully with a side of tangy tomato chutney. If you still have more cravings post this, there are still a huge array of main courses lined up.

Mandi

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Special mention to the Beer sorbet which was spectacular. I waited in line patiently as the Chef whipped up a fresh Beer Sorbet with slivers of ginger using Nitrogen right before my eyes. The Park brunch is priced competitively at 1500 AI and make for an amazing afternoon Sunday indulgence. You can upgrade it to 2000 AI for unlimited IMFL drinks.

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Seldom do you come across pop-up which you can’t afford to give a miss. The Culinary Tales Pop-Up by Karavalli, The Gateway Hotel at Firdaus, Taj Krishna is one such. My earliest memory of Karavalli was one where I had walked into the Gateway Hotel while wandering around Bangalore for a quick lunch. The expanse of greenery in between a city felt so fresh and the setting, apt for a thali. It was one of the most memorable lunches I’ve had walking out a happy man. Serving patrons since 1989, Karavalli has set a bar high when it comes to coastal food.

Firdaus

I couldn’t afford to not be there when the food of Karavalli was on offer in the city. For four days, it’ll only be the Kodagu food, Coastal Mangalorean, Goan and other dishes of the Konkan belt which will be served in Firdaus. The first dish on the table ended up being my favorite among everything else that lunch. The Koli Barthad is a Coorg preparation of chicken pan-fried in spices. The Coorg vinegar gives it a bit of acidity in a beautiful amalgamation with the pepper.

Koli Barthad

Dishes cooked in Banana Leaves is one that I find in most regional cuisines and the Meen Eleittad was no different done in a fiery marinade of Malabar masala. The Tiger Prawns Roast is the right example on the showcase of Kerala spices while still maintaining the delicateness of the prawns. There was burst of fresh green chilies, coconut and spices in the roast masala. All I needed was either an Appam or Parotta to neatly polish it off my plate.

Tiger Prawns Roast

But there was one dish which was interesting and it turned out to be vegetarian. Enter the Oggaraneda Aritha Pundhi, a rice dumpling lightly flavored in coconut and cumin. These small delicate balls of rice were like the perfect snack which you could sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The light spicing ensured that it wasn’t overpowering and took seconds to pop-in.

Oggaraneda Aritha Punde

Oggaraneda Aritha Punde

My Main Course consisted of a plate of Sungatache Kodi or as we commonly know it as Goan Prawns Curry. I thoroughly enjoyed how each of them prawns were delicately cooked making it shine through despite being in spices. The other main courses included Allapuzha Meen Curry from Kerala, Karavalli Mutton Curry and Avial.

Idiappam

Chitranna

Ending the lunch with desserts from the Goan belt were the Bebinca and Dodol. The Ada Pradhaman too wasn’t overly sweet.

Ada Pradhaman

Bebinca, Dodol and Ada Pradhaman

Karavalli has been the epitome of South and West Coastal cusine, showcasing the intricacies of dishes from the Konkan Belt. With the 4 day pop-up at Firdaus, this is one meal you should definitely not miss.

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