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If in Hyderabad you’d think that you’ve seen it all when it comes to Biryani. The other day The Hindu ran an article on the list of places which have inspired Biryani related concoctions and dishes. While United Kitchens of India had their Biryani-cocktail with aromas which exude the one dish that can get a Hyderabadi to bow down at his knees. I personally haven’t been a Biryani person myself. But this city has changed me to an extent that I do crave a bowl of it once in a while. Yeah here in Hyderabad, you don’t eat by a plate but a Bowl-ful

However, there is one place which lies in the bylanes of Nampally which should get it’s due in this regard. Deccan Achar has been making Biryani pickle for quite a while now. It’d be hard to find this shop if you were new to the area and didn’t ask for directions. Even Google Maps would send you in a circle for Nampally traffic is notorious for pushing you into corners you’d not think existed.

Deccan Achar (3)

Standing tall is the Deccan Achar where you’d see a throng of people busy having small plates in their hand as they taste each of the pickle varieties before buying them. From small packets to kilograms of the pickles, the customers parcel them in droves. I’d gone to Deccan Achar a couple of years ago while researching on interesting food and had totally forgotten about it. It wasn’t until that I got a call from Chef Kunal Kapur for new inventive pickles for his “Pickle Nation” that I did remember it.

When discussions go deep on the ingredients in food with @chefkunal #fooddrifter #masterchef

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The pickles are all made in huge aquarium size-vats set along the walls of the shop. Like most commercial shops making pickles, they also do use a lot of vinegar. This super-speeds the pickling process but vinegar leaves a tingling sensation in your throat as you have it in pickles. The home-made Indian pickles though go through a rigorous process of drying and pickling before finally being put to use.

Deccan Achar (1)

Deccan Achar’s star product is their Biryani pickle. A product carefully made by the current owner to bring back business after he took over the reins. It was all about being the showcase-factor for the shop but it definitely worked. While I took a bite of the pickle, I could deny the quintessential aroma of Biryani you’d get once a lid is lifter off a freshly cooked one. As the owner explains it’s made using Biryani spices and mangoes without divulging any other secrets.

I bought a packet to have with a portion of hot rice. This is when it all comes together. When mixed with steaming rice, it almost can be passed off as a Biryanish-Pulav. The taste is almost similar and can almost be passed off as a 2-cent Biryani. Not wanting to order-in and yet craving for a portion of Biryani? Mix a little bit of the pickle and you’ve got your lunch/dinner going.

Deccan Achar (6)

Hyderabad has had it’s Biryani-fication of various products. And the Biryani pickle from Deccan Achar adds into that list. They do have more than 50-60 other varieties of pickles including non-vegetarian ones. My favorite though is the Kariyapak (Curry Leaves), Karela (Bitter Gourd) and a Mango Green Til.

Deccan Achar (5)

Location : Deccan Achar, Nampally Market
Phone: 040 2321 4571

Deccan Achar (4)

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Goa – Day 2  

The second day in Goa for us started off pretty late. Waking up after a sound sleep with the aftereffects of the Feni to be thanked, we headed out to Panjim for a shoot. But first let’s get the tummy satisfied with a proper Goan lunch at one of the oldest restaurants and bars in Goa, Café Ritz. Numerous people come and leave satisfied through the doors of Café Ritz. It’s stood it’s test of time with it’s quality. The fish thali still costs about 180 rupees and comes with Rice, Cabbage Fry, Sol Kadi, Mussels, Fish Curry and huge slice of King Fish Rawa Fry.  Phew, talk about value for money. On the side was a fiery Crab Recheado which take a lot of water and time for me to finish.

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A meal fit for the king later, we were on a trip through Fontainhas. Fontainhas in Goa houses the Latin Quarters and the houses built are truly beautiful. The architecture vibrates with tones of yellow, green, blue and red resplendent of European Cities. Do take time to look at the lovely tiles that adorn the houses because each has a story to tell. There are numerous tours which are given about the Fontainhas. You can choose to book any of them or do it on your own.

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Also while at Fontainhas do NOT forget to visit the bakery on 31 January Street. The puffs and Goan specialties are worth having. They make a mean Bebinca, the traditional Goan dessert.

Of Quaint Bakeries and Colorful Buildings. Portuguese inspired cafes at Fontainhas in Panjim.

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My evenings were spent back at Sinquerim Beach overlooking the sunset. Being on the west coast of India, the sunsets over the sea in Goa have to be admired.

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Our find for this trip has to be Burger Factory in Anjuna. Set up by a few lads from Delhi, the burgers had here beyond awesome. I’ve had massive and delicious burgers in the US and this evoked those memories. The patty was beautiful and the sauces, beyond heavenly. It was so good that I drove down again the next day despite a higher chance of missing my bus, to indulge in one last burger. The guys at Burger factory are doing a stupendous job and I’m sure gonna be heading there once again the next time I’m in Goa.

Missed the usual haunts with this visit Goa. So Lila Café, La Plage have all become touristy for my liking. That isn’t a bad thing but it’s just that I’ve moved on. Palolem Beach is where my heart lies, but going back to North Goa after so long was truly wonderful. Cheers to many more visits.

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Goa for me has almost become a second home of sorts. It’s my annual pilgrimage and also a state where I can let go of my wandering thoughts and finally relax. I’ve been there multiple times, sat on the beach doing nothing other than a King’s in my hand and let my body relax with no other thought in my mind at all. So this February as we packed our bags for Goa once again, we though to revisit places which our favorites which we hadn’t since a couple of years.

Taking up accommodation in a beautiful house called Matilda’s Place (You should definitely check them out) in Candolim. Now I usually prefer taking the bus from Hyderabad and renting bikes right from Panjim, so that I don’t have to pay extra for the to & fro auto/cab ride to the beach. This way I end up saving atleast 600-800 rupees minimum.

Goa – DAY 1

The Carnival had just ended and the remnants of the festivities had yet to taken down. Along the Candolim – Calangute road is a beautiful German Bakery run by a Nepali which is worth checking out. Even though I love the one in Palolem, this one didn’t disappoint. The breads for the sandwiches had been freshly baked and moreover they put fresh basil which is just delicious. A Ham Sandwich and Watermelon Juice I was back at my favorite store in Goa, Newton’s. Now the Newton’s supermarket is where I do all of my liquor shopping. They always have offers going on and also the varieties stocked are much better than any other store. It’s now almost a landmark in Goa.

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Now that’s a Lineup. Beer Weekend is here

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Though a lot of tourists now head to Fat Fish, I’m now over them. There was a time when I was a regular at Fat Fish for their Goan Thali during lunches but now it’s the crowd which puts me off. They also make a Portuguese inspired Goan dessert called Serradura which is superb. Driving a little further is Crazy Crabs which they’ve now renovated to look more upscale. They make a delicious Butter Garlic Crabs and Rawa Mussels Fry. Looking for a respite from the heat, I sat down to devour happily my Butter Garlic Crabs washed down with Sol Kadi.

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We then headed out to the Chapora Fort to undertake the trek we hadn’t for years. The last time I’d gone up Chapora Fort was almost 4 years back. The road was much better then but they’ve totally screwed up the climb with a lot of digging. If it’s your first time in Goa then be my guest to head up there else it’s not worth it anymore other than the view.

My evenings in Goa are set with one dish. Post relaxing on the beach watching the sun go down, I always end up going off in search off a good Ras Omelette. Now if you don’t know what’s a Ras Omelette, then let me explain it to you in the choicest words.  Imagine like the best omelette in the world made with fresh onions and green chilies and then topped off with the Xacuti gravy. The Ras Omelette is to be had with fresh buttered pav. They sell it for like 20-30 bucks in the thelas and is a must have when in Goa.

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For dinner that night we ended up going a bit exotic. Meeting a friend over for dinner we headed to Chef Soumyen’s Kitchen. Run by an Ex-Taj chef, the Steaks at Chef Soumyen’s are fabulous. The prices aren’t cheap by Goan standards but so it their quality. The Spaghetti Bolognaise was exquisite.

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Now was the time to head back to beach and just relax over either Beers or Feni. This is one trip which after many years finally made me accept Feni. The Goan Feni slowly develops on you and the first taste can be quite hard to digest. The best way to have a Feni is always in a ratio of 1:3 with Limca and slice of lemon thrown in. Trust me when I say that the sleep you get post having a Feni will be the best you’ve had in a long time.

 

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We indulged in loads of food during our visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. South East Asian countries have always been the confluence of street-food. If you don’t indulge in street food when in any of the Asian countries, it might be safe to say that you missed a big part of the culture. The streets pavements are packed 24 hours with vendors selling scores of different types of food.

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For us eating out in the street is crucial during our travels to different countries. We always end up exploring most of the street food around the country. And along with eating, it’s fun conversing with the locals, vendors and hawkers as we enjoy our meal.

Words of Wisdom In The Streets

We list out our favorite street foods from across Kuala Lumpur:

  1. Nasi Goreng – Unofficially known as Malaysia’s national food, every 30 meters you’ll be able to find a vendor selling Nasi Goreng. Soon as we got down off the bus from the airport, we headed over a hawker on the pavement selling Nasi Goreng packed in leaf packets. They are dirt cheap costing about RM 1-2 if you eat on the streets. They rise accordingly in prices as the grandeur of the restaurant/café/ tourist area you eat at. You can choose you own version of ingredients to add. I personally love it with fried chicken, anchovies and topped off with a fried egg and peanuts.Nasi Goreng - Choices
    Nasi Goreng - Packed
  2. Nasi Ayam – Nasi is rice in Malay and Ayam is chicken. So the classic combination of rice and chicken is a hit when had your own choice of sauces. Although we’d prefer to stay true to the sambal sauce but you might as well pick up your own choice too. It’s served with a side of broth which is extremely packed with flavor.Nasi Ayam
  3. Nasi Udang – Udang is Malay for Prawns. Another classic dish which can’t go wrong is the Nasi Udang with your own choice of sauce.Nasi Udang (1)
    Nasi Udang (2)
  4. Roti Canai – Malaysia’s food has been diversely affected from Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese style of cooking along with it’s religion. The Roti Canai is the inspiration from India with it lying somewhere between a laccha paratha and a roomali roti.Roti Canai
    Roti Canai With Teh Tarik
  5. Teh Tarik – The Teh Tarik is considered the national drink of Malaysia and is a hot milk-based beverage made using black tea and condensed milk. Give way to your cappuccinos to settle for a Teh Tarik when in Malaysia and the antics of the vendors when preparing a Teh Tarik won’t go unnoticed. The tea is pulled repeatedly until it gives a frothy top. There are actually several competitions where the brewers can show off their skills.Teh Tarik
  6. Kaya ToastThe beauty of Kaya Toast is that it can had as savory, dessert and also on the side of a beverage. Kaya means coconut jam and the Kaya Toast is famous all over Singapore and Malaysia. I liked the having the Kaya Toast topped with sugar alongside my The Tarik when in Kuala Lumpur. But you can also top it off with eggs, pandan and lots of other stuff too of your choice. The Old Town Coffee House outlets are found almost every 5 kms when in Kuala Lumpur and serve up a delicious Kaya Toast along with a range of coffees.Old Town White Coffee
    Kaya Toast
  7. Putu Bambu – This Malaysian dessert is a beautiful rice-based pandan flavored dessert. It’s made of rice flour, palm sugar and pandan flavor which gives it the green coloring. It is then steamed in a bamboo and served with grated coconut.Malaysia - Centra Market
    Putu Bambu
  8. Shibuya Toast – The Shibuya Toast origins are in Japan but almost every Asian country now has gone crazy all over it. When walking through the food court of Suria KLCC, I couldn’t help but notice every 3rd table having in front of them a plate of Shibuya Toast. I settled for the classic version of Shibuya Toast with honey and ice cream but there were lots and lots of choice for other to indulge in. Toppings of fruits, exotic flavors of ice-creams, berries, maple syrup and lots more.Shibuya Toast

We will have more street food from across Kuala Lumpur feature on our next post when we cover Jalan Alor and Bukit Bintang. There are the main streets where lots of street food are found.

Black Coffee With Condensed Milk

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A lot of people would have eaten at Begum Bazaar but not much has been written about this food paradise in Hyderabad. If you love vegetarian food then you must definitely head to Begum Bazaar. Hyderabad has always been projected as a city which loves to eat meat. When the city is known world-over for it’s Biryani, you can’t really blame that notion. But a sizable portion of people flock to Begum Bazaar for it’s amazing vegetarian street food.

We have been there a couple of times, and must say we were floored by the outstanding food that you’ll get around Begum Bazaar. Here is a list of places to visit when in Begum Bazaar.

  1. Scoops Tiffin Center – Located right on the main road of Siddiamber Bazaar beside the Masjid is the famous Scoops Tiffin Center. The idlis are soft, fluffy and delicious. The names of Dosas will have you guessing with some of them being Namo Dosa, Tan-Tan dosa and lots more.Scoops Tiffin Center
  2. Prahalad Tiffin Point – As you walk into the lane beside Scoops Tiffin Center, there is no missing the huge crowd that’s gathered in front of Prahalad. The serve a huge variety of dosas, idlis and lots of other fried goodness.Prahalad Tiffins
  3. Sri Jodhpur Mithai Ghar – Located right opposite the Aziz Plaza is the Jodhpur Mithai Ghar. The size of the Raj Kachoris are astonishing and the Paneer Pakodas & Bread Pakodas are stunningly delicious. They make some decent sweets too. Do not miss out on the Raj Kachoris though, they are an absolute must-have.Sri Jodhpur Mithai Ghar (2)
    Sri Jodhpur Mithai Ghar (4)

    Sri Jodhpur Mithai Ghar (3)

  4. Shyam Singh Chat Bhandar – This particular outlet serves some amazing chaats, dahiwada and puchkas. It is located right at the end of Begum Bazaar Chatri.Shyam Singh Chat Bhandar
  5. Kamalabai ka Kalakand – This is just a small bandi of sorts with absolutely zero branding. Yet when you ask about Kamalabai ka Kalakand in Begum Bazaar, everyone will know it. He changes the location of his stall every other night but can be mostly found near the Hanuman Temple. The homemade white Kalakands are one of the best you’ll ever have in the city. He also makes Ajmeri Kalakand, Rabdi, Gajar ka Halwa and Doodh Peda.Kamalabai ka Kalakand
    Kamalabai ka Kalakand (1)
  6. Ghevar at Begum Bazaar Chatri – The Begum Bazaar Chatri road is lined with sellers of Ghevar. The Ghevar is absolutely heavenly. Do pick up some from these sellers to have at home and make them at home.Ghevar Sellers At Begum Bazaar

Yes, Hyderabad is not always about it’s meaty goodness. Begum Bazaar shines through it all, gloriously with it’s vegetarian wonderfulness.

Meetha Poori

Mouth Freshners

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Casbah, the newest baby of Westin is an extension of the 2nd floor terrace. Taking the entry off the second gate, a quick zoom up the lift and they open to a Moroccan-inspired Casbah. The décor is done in white hues with shades of blue giving it a very Mediterranean look. Having a very Greek influence, it’s reflected in the color palette, texture and materials used in the designing of the arches.  It’s open on all ends and is absolutely beautiful to sit in on a breezy day and extremely relaxing.

Casbah Lounge

Hookah Parlour

Casbah

Casbah Decor (4)

Keeping in line with the theme, the food served here is Mediterranean. We were at Casbah on an exclusive invite to sample their menu. Considering that I had been there on the opening night of Casbah, I did know what to expect. I had been thoroughly impressed by the simple menu put forward by Chef Mukesh and Chef Rakesh at Casbah on the opening night and I couldn’t wait to try out the other delicacies on the menu.

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It was a beautiful winter night and the night breeze was at it’s best. Starting off with a Fresh musk-melon frioska which was a lot fresh with generous amounts of mint. This was one night where I was in no hurry with my food. I guess Casbah’s environment made me feel that. It’s one of those places which relaxes you immediately and you just need to soak it all in.

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We started off with the cold Mezze platter. Very few places get all the components of Mezze platter and Casbah did get every single detail right that night. The Hummus and Muhammara were brilliant with the pita breads. The Hummus with a light tanginess of the lemon juice and olive oil was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. The Labneh and Baba Ganoush was heavenly too. And especially kudos to getting the Baba Ganoush true to it’s roots with a light smoky flavor.

Cold Mezze Platter

Vegetarian Appetizer Platter

Spinach Fatayer

The menu at Casbah is small but well executed. I’ve always maintained that a short menu can sometimes do wonders for the guests than an elaborate one. Considering that Casbah sticks to the lounge concept, a two page menu was more than enough. The Chicken Souvlaki had been tossed in copious amounts of garlic and thyme. My favorite among the appetizers were the Chicken Sambousek and Kofte Kebab. Most of these dishes aren’t difficult to get right but it was the balance of flavors which struck the right chords. Paired with a good tazatski, the meat is rightfully balanced with the sourness of the condensed yogurt.

Non-Vegetarian StartersNon-Vegetarian Appetisers

The Samak Harra had been delicately grilled with sumac, loads of garlic and pepper. The star among the dishes we had at Casbah, the stand-out had to be the Chicken Tagine. The stew was delightful and distinctive but it was the cous cous which stole my heart mainly. It was simple, packed with light flavor and exquisite.

Chicken Tagine

Main Courses At Casbah

Main Course

Desserts is where Casbah’s other strengths lie. I’ve had the same desserts on two occasions at Casbah and they’ve maintained their consistency each time. The trio of Baklava is authentic and phyllo pastry is delicately made with a rich filling of walnuts, pistachios and other nuts. Even with the Umali, Casbah makes the pudding with puff pastry instead of succumbing to take the shorter route and using bread. And a rich rick double cream of top of Umali is sure to give you a dessert-high.

Desserts At Casbah

Casbah is artistic and sure worth the visit. It’s one of the few places in Hyderabad where you come out refreshed. Carrying with it a Mediterranean inspired décor, it’s going to leave you with a different view at sunset and another at night. The environment too goes a long way in making the Casbah experience even more enticing.

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And they have some of the most beautiful chandeliers and lampshades hung around which add to the charm of Casbah.

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Casbah - The Westin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I’ve been going to Sheraton right from the time they converted from the earlier Regenta:One. They’ve been constantly innovating and coming up with new and more importantly niche concepts. They have now launched their specialty restaurants Inazia and Chime, and I must say they fit right into the Sheraton aura.

Inazia And Chime

Firstly there was no mistaking that Inazia and Chime are two different thoughtfully conceptualized places. There is no mixing both of them and each carries it’s own significant individuality. They might share the same walkway but each carries a soul of it’s own. Chime is where the action kicked off for the night. A slow-beat fluorescent ambient lighting reflected off the tastefully hung bells covers Chime. A deft hand swishes behind the bar as artistically created drinks are passed on to the tables. Yep, that was Ami Shroff whom we’ve followed quite a bit on her Facebook page and I finally got a chance to try out her amazing concocted drinks.

Chime

Ami Shroff

The Bok Choy Martini and Wasabi Martini were purely marvelous. But it was the Bell Pepper Martini which got me hooked. Served in colorful bell peppers, you catch a whiff of the bell pepper as you take a sip of the drinks which elevates the experience. We started with our appetizers at Chime which made for a great amalgamation with the drinks being made by Ami.

Wasabi MartiniBell Pepper MartiniBok Choy Martini

The Batter Fried Tempura Vegetables and Steamed Crystal Shrimp Dumplings were well complimented with the drinks. The Crispy Fragrant Duck was my favorite though among the appetizers. I think it was the side serving of homemade-Hoisin Sauce which lent it the much needed wow factor.

Steamed Crystal Shrimp Dumpling

Chicken Satay With Peanut Sauce

As the evening progressed, I moved on to Inazia. Inazia is managed by international Chef Ninja Suksamai. She carries with her a vast experience about Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cooking. Chinese Tea was served alongside meals which worked as a great palette cleanser among courses. Beginning the Asian food journey at Inazia were with the salads. The Prawns Salad was rich on flavors with a fragrant dressing of lemongrass and mint. It was fresh and the glass noodles used in the salad made it absolutely delectable. The Shredded Raw Papaya Salad or Som Tam was good but it needed a little bit of acidity with the bird chilis giving a real spicy hit.

Inazia

Chinese Tea

Salads

The Chicken Mild Coconut Soup had a delightful essence of galangal and kaffir lime. The veggies were aplenty in the soup but it’s quite a rustic soup. The coconut was not overpowering as I’d expected and I actually enjoyed a soup quite a lot after so long.

Moving on to the main course, we started off with the California Crab Meat Rolls. It had been neatly packed with avocado with a topping of flying fish roe. After quite an appetizing soup and starters, the main course did bring out the efficiency of a newly-opened kitchen. Chef Ninja’s prowess behind the kitchen was evident in the Thai Green Curry. This simple dish can be quite hard to create with all the flavors intact and with just sticky rice it was fabulous.

Stir Fried Deep Fried Shell Crab

California Crab Meat Rolls

Thai Green Curry

Inazia and Chime aren’t just another Asian place looking to a make a mark. Right from the drinks to the food, they’re pushing the boundaries in getting authentic Asian and Oriental food. And with Ami and Chef Ninja, they’ve sure been off to a great start. I’m definitely going to be around more to savor the food and drinks.

Green Tea Ice Cream

And to end the review of Inazia with this mesmerizing video of Ami Shroff.

 

InAzia Chime - Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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This review of the Purani Dilli food festival isn’t just about the amazing food that are part of the menu at Kanak. It’s about nostalgia, about experiencing traditional home-cooked food of Dilli Muslim households in an elaborate atmosphere. I like the fact the path the Trident is taking on in recent times to promote some of the most interesting food in their food festivals. From the Turkish food festival last month to Rivaayat at Kanak which had been my favorite so far.

Purani Dilli Food Festival

Mr Osama Jalali is well known in food circles as a renowned food critic and researcher. I’ve been following the Lost Recipes of India to know the interesting discussion which happen on the forum. So with a menu curated by Mr. Osama Jalali after years of research on the authentic dishes of Delhi along with his mother, Chef Nazish Jalali who hails from Rampur, this definitely was one not to be missed.

The Jalali Family

But before delving into the food festival at Trident, let’s take a walk among the bylanes of Old Delhi. Now this isn’t where you can get through in your car but to be navigated by foot or on a rickshaw. The smell of juicy meat lingers in the air, the towering Jama Masjid in all it’s resplendent beauty. The Seekh Kebabs at Karim’s, Changezi Chicken and Fried Fish/Chicken. Parathas and Naan at Kake di Hatti and down a huge glass of Sherbet or Falooda right beside it.

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That’s Chandni Chowk for you. It is lively, pure energy flowing among those lanes and a food lover’s paradise. And why did I talk about Chandni Chowk? Coz the food at the Purani Dilli Food Festival at Kanak reminded me of that. They’d been so perfectly made that I couldn’t find anything out of place when it came to experiencing Delhi food. We started the evening with the Kachi Keema ki Tikiya. I found it a welcome change from the heavy ghee and oil laden tikkas with this being so light. If you’d had the chance to dine at any of the houses at Shahjanabad, you’d know what I’m talking about. The Macchli Fry (Fish Fry) was perfect Old Delhi. Exactly like the ones being fried at the roadside eateries in the evening at Chandni Chowk. A side of Mint Chutney and onions and you’re set. Kacche Keema ki Tikiya The Kacche kele ki Shammi kebab which is raw bananas marinated in spices and shallow fried makes a good option for the vegetarians. But I’d prefer the Mewa Kebab which was simply delicious. Cheese, khoya, yoghurt, dry fruits all go into making this kebabs making it one of the must-haves. Kacche Kele ki Shammi

Mewa Kebab The main course has a vast variety to choose from which juggles between Rampur and Old Delhi. The Arbi ka Salan, a colocasia preparation which is almost part of every Old Delhi household along made for a great side with the Vegetable Tehari and Chane ki Dal ka Bharta. Arbi ka Salan

Vegetable Tehari The Food Festival aims to keep the ethos of the dishes intact while also giving them a platform to be showcased. But for everyone at the table, the Chicken Ishtew and Keema Hari Mirch came out to be as favorites. The Keema Hari Mirch deserves special mention because the mutton had been pounded to perfection and the hit of green chilies, leaves with a satisfied smile across your face. Keema Hari Mirch

Chicken Ishtew

Dehlvi Nihari

It was now time for the desserts. This is one section of the Purani Dilli food festival which is going to leave you quite intrigued. The Gosht ka Halwa was simply brilliant. This was the second time I had the opportunity to taste a dessert made of meat which when served without the name, you’d definitely never be able to guess it’s been made of meat. A smooth texture and lightly sweetened, this Halwa is worth the try. The Aloo ka Zarda is also quite a nice addition to the desserts menu.

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The festival is on till 30th of November at Kanak, Trident. And it’s one of those rare festivals which you walk out from not only with amazing food but great memories.

The Menu For The Night

 

Kanak - Trident Hyderabad Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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From the time you enter through the gates of the Taj Falaknuma, the grandeur and the elegance is going to leave you spellbound. A palace which has enthralled many dignitaries in it’s 122 year history isn’t just to be seen. It’s an experience of a lifetime to carry back with you. It’s not everyday you get a chance to walk through beautifully handcrafted history. A history so rich that it even made the Nizam of Hyderabad fall in love with the palace. We were glad to be part of the special Invite for the Tour & Hi Tea Celebrations.

The Falaknuma Palace was constructed by Vikar-ul-Umra, the then prime minister to the Nizam of Hyderabad. It was handed over to the Nizam of Hyderabad as a nazar (offering) by the prime minister to use as a palace to entertain his guests. The story goes that the Nizam had initially come to the Faluknama Palace to stay only for 2 days. He fell in love with the palace so much that he continued onto stay there for a month. Faluk-numa literally translates to “Mirror of the sky” in Urdu.

Here in the post below we take you through the walls of history of the Taj Falaknuma as it gears up for it’s 5th anniversary celebrations on the November 13th. Through it’s ornate paintings, magnificent rooms, the opulent staircase, the huge palatial grounds as it towers over the city of Hyderabad and the grandeur that is Falaknuma.

Soon as you enter through the palace gates and ushered in, a battery operated cart takes you all the way to the palace grounds. This is a followed by a welcome drink as you’re left to soak in the magnanimity of the palace.

Welcome Drinks - Green Tea Mocktails

Welcome Drinks - Nimbu Sherbat

The palace historian Prabhakar awaited to take us through the journey that is Falaknuma Palace. A walk around the palace grounds unravels the story in layers. The palace grounds are filled with peacocks which have made it their home. They also have a stable housing the horses and a horse-drawn carriage that you can use for special occasions.

Palace Lawns (3)

Palace Lawns (2)

Palace Lawns (1)Horse Drawn Carriage

Armoury

Electrical Lamps

As you gradually move into the palace, the first entry is to the Taj Khazana, where some of the splendid, intricate rare treasures, paintings and finest collections of the Nizam are housed.

Taj Khazana

Cherubs Fountain

Intricately Carved Peacocks

A Bookshelf

Ganesha

From the Taj Khazana room, you are further led into the inner chambers which house the inner area and meeting rooms of the Nizam. Considering that the Falaknuma Palace is resemblance of sky on earth, you’ll find a lot of architecture and paintings are done to resemble celestial and sky objects. From angels and cherubs to birds and even dragons. The Library is a replica of the one at Windsor Castle and has one of the finest collection of books in the world. In fact the Nizam of Hyderabad was so rich that he used the Jacob diamond as a paperweight.

Library

Nizam's Desk

Library (2)

Glass Painting

Clock

Tree Of Life

The marble figurines supported by balustrades have been delicately carved. They have candelabras at regular intervals.

 

Staircase (2)

Staircase (1)

Staircase (3)

Top Of The Stairs (3)

Top Of The Stairs (1)

Top Of The Stairs (2)The Falaknuma Palace was one of the first palaces in India to get electricity. The electrical systems have been designed by Osler and has one of the largest electrical switchboards in India. It also has the largest collection on Venetian chandeliers.

Chandeliers (3)

Chandeliers (2)

Chandeliers (1)The pride of the Taj Falaknuma is it’s famed dining hall table which has seen many royalties, noblemen and dignitaries dine in. The dining table can seat up to 100 people with the tableware being made of gold and crystal to which fluted music was added.

Grand Table (3)

Grand Table (1)

Grand Table (4)

The High Tea is one of Taj Falaknuma’s highlights of the day. The nobility that comes with watching the sun set over Hyderabad from the terrace balcony. The menu at the High Tea is vast and elaborate. Featuring a eclectic mix of Hyderabadi, Indian and Continental, there is something in it for everyone. There are the healthy juices, shakes, cold coffees and lassi. Then come the huge variety of sandwiches, bruschettas. But the Hyderabadi Indian section of the High Tea is worth checking out. They at any moment in time have the Lukmis, Bun Maska, Keema Buns and lot more which are specific Hyderabadi specialties.

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (6)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (12)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (11)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (9)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (8)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (7)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (5)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (4)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (2)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (3)

High Tea At Taj Falaknuma (1)

And the talk before of dining in royalty. Below pictures are a testament of the opulence of the terrace as you face out to the city of Hyderbad and the sky merges with the horizon in the distance. These pictures cover the balcony and the Jade Room where the artworks of local artists are displayed.

High Tea Area (15)

High Tea Area (14)

High Tea Area (13)

High Tea Area (12)

High Tea Area (10)

High Tea Area (11)

High Tea Area (9)

High Tea Area (8)

High Tea Area (6)

High Tea Area (5)

High Tea Area (4)

High Tea Area (3)

High Tea Area (2)

High Tea Area (1)

The Taj Falaknuma is impressively beautiful in the night as all the lights slowly light up to reveal it’s splendor.Taj Falaknuma Lawns In The Evening (3)

Taj Falaknuma Lawns In The Evening (4)

Taj Falaknuma Lawns In The Evening (2)

Taj Falaknuma Lawns In The Evening (1)

Taj Falaknuma Lawns In The Evening (5)

Taj Falaknuma Lawns In The Evening (6)As we leave the Taj Falaknuma, we don’t leave with just an experience but with an everlasting memory. It’s truly a piece of eternity created on earth.

Palace Outer Side (3)

Palace Outer Side (2)

Palace Outer Side (1)

There are no videos allowed inside the Taj Falaknuma and we rightfully stand by that decision too. An individual visit is what you’ll need to feel the magnificence and majestic beauty of the Taj Falaknuma. Here is a small video below of the palace as it slowly fades out into the distance as we take leave.

A video posted by FoodDrifter (@fooddrifter) on

As part of the ongoing 5th Anniversary celebrations of the Taj Falaknuma, Colombian Saxophonist Dumbira enthralls visitors during High Tea.

The Hookah Lounge - Taj Falaknuma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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It’d been quite sometime that I’d been conversing with Pritha Sen on many food-based groups on Facebook. It intrigued me that the knowledge she had to share about heritage cuisines was immense and moreover about the Goalondo steamer cuisine in general. A couple of friends who had the chance to be at here pop-up of Goalondo steamer cuisine in Delhi had come back to me raving about it. This was on Fowl curry which has gone down the annals of food history. One dish that I had to relish to know what it was all about.

In Conversation With Pritha Sen

Thankfully Nabanno, which has been slowly changing the course of East Indian/Bangladeshi food landscape in Hyderabad is hosting her for a pop-up on the Goalondo Food festival. We happened to be at a preview of the pop-up before it opens it’s doors and all I can say, I’ve come back pleasantly surprised and satisfied. It’s not what I expected in head and so much more.

Nabanno EntranceThe evening started off with Pritha Sen giving us a brief about the food and what to expect. I’ve been too reading up a lot about it for quite some time on stories I could lay my hands on. The food author Mujtaba Ali makes great mention of the Goalondo Fowl curry which has been described as one of the brilliant dishes he’s come across. The womenfolk of Bikrampur were famed across Bengal or their cooking. In pre-independence era, people had to break away at Goalondo to continue on their journey to Dhaka. But for that they had to take the steamer boat overnight to Narayanganj to continue their journey. The Goalondo Fowl curry cooked on those steamers had become popular among the passengers and a legendary dish. The curry till date is cooked still on the Naf river steamers.

Nabanno

Welcome Drink

In most of the eastern states at that moment of time, people wouldn’t partake chicken. So the fowl could be any other bird being the common water fowl to wild fowl. But Pritha Sen makes use of country chicken for her fowl curry.

The pop-up at Nabanno by Pritha Sen boasts the best dishes that she’s had the chance to encountering along her heritage food journey. Khoi er Bora is a fried balls made of khoi (popped rice), saunf. It leaves a lingering taste of coconut soon as you gulp it down. The khoi is used widely in East India which made this dish quite interesting. The Smoked Bhetki is simply brilliant. There are no words to describe the loveliness of this simplistic dish which was also born aboard the steamers. Beautifully smoked with puffed rice and gud (jaggery), the smokiness is exceptional. Also make a light note of slathering the fish generously with butter and give your diet conscious mind a little bit of rest.

Khoi er Bora

Smoked Bhetki

The Masoor Dal is like soul food if you’d ask any person who hails from East India. This was the time that I finally lay my fork, spoon and table manners to rest as I partook the food with my hands. To be had with white rice, the Masoor Dal is inspired from the rustic village of Dhaka. It’s tasted a little similar to the Dalma to me, but without the Haldi.

Mashoor Dal, Mulor Paturi and Rice

The accompaniment for the meal is with Mulor Paturi, which is essentially a paturi of radish cooked on a tawa. These dishes are hard to come across in any household, leave alone a restaurant which makes it so much more wonderful to relish. A very rustic style of cooking indeed. Those who can handle the mustard, do go ahead and indulge in some extra mustard oil dressing on top to bring out the flavors better.

Now to the star of the pop-up, the Goalondo Chicken Curry. The chicken is slow cooked and is generously doused in lots of spices. The essential phenomenal taste is provided by the backdrop of shrimp paste use in the curry. But the paste leaves no pungent smell but something divine that will leave you wanting for more. The best part is the curry as Syed Mujtaba Ali in his words had rightly aid ‘a fiery thin red curry’. I loved the Parshe Roast which amazed me by the fact that I was having it so differently. I’ve always had the Parshe Roast with a generous coating of masalas paste. But here the coating was distinct in it’s use of caramelized onions till brown giving it a little sweet spice taste.

Goalondo Chicken Curry And Rice

Parshe Roast

Continuing on the East Indian food journey was the Dohjem. A very north-eastern style of making pork made by the Khasi hill tribes using copious amount of masala made with black sesame and spices . There is so many more wonderful dishes on offer like Tel Beguni, Macher Dim Bhapa and lots more.

Dohjem

Tel Beguni

Bhapa Doi

The Goalondo Steamer Cuisine pop-up by Pritha Sen at Nabanno is a must visit. Leaving the delicious food aside, these are some famed dishes which are hard to come by. A beautifully constructed menu and the Goalondo Chicken Curry is definitely one of the best chicken curries I had the chance to relish. You might/might not board the Goalondo steamer boats but a gastromical romantic journey here is guaranteed.

Pritha Sen

You can read more about the legendary dishes of the Goalando Steamer here.

Nabanno Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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