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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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The trip to Kodaikanal had been finalized and we were all excited. Lush Greens, Mountains, streams, the chill and fresh air of the mountains is always a welcome break. We had booked a cab from Trichy to Kodaikanal and like every other time I start to plan my trip around places to eat at. A little research on Maps and the journey passed directly through Dindigul. Now having lived in Hyderabad, you should understand the special place that Biryani holds for us settlers of the city. But many people down south consider Dindigul as ‘Land of Biryanis’ and that got my curiosity going.

The Thalappakatti Restaurant In Dindigul

Dindigul is a small town, lots of traffic whizzing through the by lanes and I made my way using the GPS to Thalappakatti. The restaurant which started in 1957 with humble beginnings has grown on to a chain of reputed chain operating under the ‘Thalappakatti’ brand. Thalappakatti’s success can be attributed to the fact that they have not compromised on the quality. The taste yet consistently remains the same since it’s inception. Thalappakatti surprisingly translates to ‘turban’ which the Nagaswamy Naidu, the owner was seen wearing at the cash counter.

The Thalappakatti History

The Biryani we ordered was packed full of flavors. Three small buckets of Mutton Kulambu, Dalcha and Onion Raita had been placed on the side as accompaniments. The Thalappakatti is made of seeraga samba rice with each rice being flavored uniformly. The seeraga samba rice by packs a lot less flavor by itself and hence is an excellent substitute to capture the essence of the masalas and meat. The heavy smell of ghee could be felt emanating from the bowl and yet eating, we felt light. The aroma was still felt lingering on the hands even after quite sometime after lunch.

Thalappakatti Biryani With The Sides

Ponram Biryani is another variation of Dindigul Biryani which originated almost 20 years later than the Thalappakatti. They have done a great job of ramping up too while Thalappakatti has also opened up branches all over Tamil Nadu. As I sat down and requested the server to get me a bowl of the Ponram Biryani, I couldn’t help notice the numerous parcels being doled out. A banana leaf had been placed in front immediately upon taking my order and the Kulambu gravy and raita had been placed on it. The Ponram Biryani too uses the seeraga samba rice, but I felt the Thalappakatti packed a lot more flavors. Here the meat was much tender, but you don’t get that lingering aroma which you carry away with you. It felt like a poor man’s version of the Thalappakatti.

Ponram Biryani

There is no doubt a lot of innovation has taken in this small town when it comes to Biryani. The Thalappakatti definitely carries the mantle far ahead among the rest of the variations of the Dindigul Biryani. There is also a Venu Biryani in Dindigul which I didn’t have the time to sit down with. Probably something for the next time. But the meticulousness with which they pack flavor and the consistency with which they’ve been churning out some amazing Biryani is worth applauding.

Thalappakatti Biryani

 

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Saturday the 11th was one crazy night for us at FoodDrifter. It was the 6th Ramzan FoodWalk during this month as part of the Ramzan FoodWalk series. The overwhelming response that we had received had us excited. Considering that this was going to be the last FoodWalk for this month we decided to go big. A whole lot of goodies and contests, games and of course innumerable food stalls planned to make the night exhilarating.

The FoodDrifter Food Map -   - Pic Courtesy Ankit Becks

The best part of the night was having 100+ enthusiastic crowd who descended upon the Old City to be part of the FoodWalk. The FoodWalk commenced at Hotel Nayaab, opposite the Madina Building at 8 PM. Hotel Nayaab is famous for it’s delicious Kesar Chai. The subtle flavor of Saffron in the tea leaves a sweet tingling taste over your palate. The foodies also gorged on Haleem and Paya with Munshi Naan and we moved over to the next stop at Shadab. Shadab is quite famous for it’s Biryani, but it also serves some exquisite Falooda and Lassi. Haleem check two at Shadab and our FoodWalk moved to Hotel Shehraan.

Seekh Kebab At Shehran -   - Pic Courtesy Ankit Becks

Instruction Time  - Pic Courtesy Ankit Becks

Fish Fry, Apollo Fish, Boti Kebabs, Seekh Kebabs, Dahi Wada, Khajoor, Pakodas were just a few of the food that were savored as we made our way to Nimrah to relish on some Irani Chai as we soaked in the beauty of Charminar. During Ramzan, the sights and energy in Old City is at it’s peak. You have to be there to feel the goose bumps that it can give you.

Fish Fry & Fish Cutlets

Irani Chai and Osmania Biscuits are a match made in heaven when in Hyderabad but Tie Biscuits also make for a terrific accompaniment. The after it was hardcore non-vegetarian binge eating. Chicken 65, Tandoori Chicken, Pista House Haleem and lots of Hyderabadi desserts like the Qubbani ka Meetha, Dil-e-Firdous and Phirni. For the last stop of the night with the clock almost hitting 2 AM, we ended the gastronomic FoodWalk at Shah Ghouse with it’s scrumptious Biryani.

Something For The Vegetarians - Pic Courtesy Ankit Becks

Sweets - Pic Courtesy Biswajit Mohanty

The FoodWalk was the best we have done till date because of the amazing set of people we got to meet. Eating out is all about sharing stories and enjoying conversations over food. The enthusiasm and above all the contests were a lot of fun. Special thanks to Oh So Stoned, Saffron Mantra, Lemon Tree Hotels, TinyOwl, Built2Cook and Sweet Experience, Deli 9 Bistro for the dining vouchers and gifts which made it more fun for the participants.

To End It All With Biryani  - Pic Courtesy Ankit Becks

We shall be back with a bigger event. More interesting ones coming up on our Facebook Page.

The FoodDrifters

Photo Albums On Facebook:

1. FoodDrifter Ramzan FoodWalk 2015

2. FoodDrifter Ramzan FoodWalk By Ankit Becks

3. Hyderabad Trails By Jeet’s Photography

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The city of the Nizams, the place that houses the elegant Charminar and the ‘Land of the Biryani’. The mammoth food options we get around in Hyderabad is well known. The best way to explore the Hyderabad Food in the city is to go local. Eat the dishes the locals eat, explore the hidden gems like never before and go street smart in terms of food.

We decided to put together a list of the most iconic dishes, for a one day city tour of Hyderabad. Right from the breakfast to ending with a late-night post-dinner, the list is quite extensive. If ever to cover Hyderabad in one day, these are the routes that you should take to go along on a spectacular food journey. We list out the 15 must do things in Hyderabad to be covered in a day.

1. The Butter Dosa And Tawa Idli Bandis: Yes thelas elsewhere are known as Bandis With an insane amount of Butter, Cheese and Paneer going into making each Dosa, know that you’ve started on a gastronomic journey. Ohh, and did we forget to mention that the filling too is Ghee Upma. Stop counting the calories and feel that smooth, crisp Dosa melt in your mouth, that extremely butter pan-fried idlis infuse happiness with each bite. Find your way to Govind, Laxman, Pragati & Ram ki Bandi for the best dosa’s & Tawa Idli’s. To see the first hand action in making the Butter Dosas and Tawa Idlis, watch the video.

Govind's

2. Paya, Nihari, Kheema: These breakfast dishes would be a sin if not indulged in the right way. Most of the iconic hotels like Shadab, Alpha start to serve breakfast options since early morning. A plate of Bheja Fry, Palak Gurda, Nihari and Paya can be quite fulfilling.

Breakfast At Shadab

3. Irani Chai With Osmania & Tie Biscuits: To soak in the beauty of the Charminar early dawn with a cup of Irani Chai, overlooking all its splendidness is a must-do on the list. Many Irani Chai shops are located all over the city, but best had at the historic Nimrah Café right opposite the Charminar. Best enjoyed with Osmania and Tie Biscuits, dipped in and slurped.

Irani Chai at Nimrah

4. Andhra Thali: An afternoon can’t be the same without tasting the specialty Thali. Spicy, Tangy and Sweetness, all on one plate. The rest is up to you, if you wanting to slurp the rasam away to glory. The most authentic ones being the local messes like Kakatiya, Sri Kanya or Harsha Mess.

Andhra Thali

5. Hyderabadi Biryani: No day in Hyderabad is complete without Biryani. The quintessential Hyderabadi dish has had many a conversations and love affairs happen over a plate of Biryani. Bawarchi, Shadab, Café Bahar, Mohini, Sohail are to name a few the best places to entertain the taste buds to some authentic Biryani.

Hyderabadi Biriyani

6. Dum ka Chai: With the sun almost setting, little is known about the Dum ka Chai than its famous counterpart Irani Chai. The Black Tea is put under heavy heat – dum before mixing with milk and being served. Head over to Café Iqbal in Goshamahal for a cup of Dum ka Chai.

Dum ka Chai

7. Pathar ka Gosht: its hard thinking that meat can be made over a hot stone like the ancient times. But this city sticks to the tradition of Mutton prepared over a slab of hot stone and the outcome is pure juicy sin. Head over to Dine Hill and Bade Miyan in Tankbund for savoring this dish.

Pattar ka Gosht

8. Munshi Naan with Marag: A walk around Purani Haveli and you’ll a line of shops making Munshi Naan, made right in an underground hearth. Best had with a gravy like Marag or fresh kebabs, this Naan can be found in mostly 4 different shapes with the Char Koni being the most famous of them. A masterpiece which hasn’t left the borders outside of the Old City. For more about Munshi Naan you can watch the video

Munshi Naan

 

9. Bagara Rice with Dalcha and Khatti Dal: a part of almost every Hyderabadi household, these dishes are extremely hard to come by in hotels and restaurants. Nonetheless some of the oldest eateries still do have it on the menu like the Café Iqbal, Shadab, Sohail etc.

Bagara Khaana

10. Qubani Ka Meetha and Kaddu Ka Kheer: No meal is complete without Desserts. Hyderabad doesn’t lack behind when it comes to dessert discoveries. The Qubani ka Meetha (Apricot soaked in Sugar Syrup and Nuts) and Kaddu ka Kheer (Bottle-Gourd Kheer) are some of the must haves.

Qubani ka Meetha

11. Double ka Meetha: To think the important status that this sweet enjoys after a meal is mind-boggling. A bread based sweet, a counterpart to the Shahi Tukda, it’s impossible to miss if going the traditional Hyderabadi way.

Double ka Meetha

12. Badam ki Jali: Lost in history and not quite well-known, the Badam ki Jalli is near impossible to find. Even the most local people will be unable to guide as to where this is found. In a quaint little neighborhood of Aziz Bagh, the Badam ki Jalli is made by a few families only on special order. Pic Courtesy: Badam ki Jali FB Page

Badam ki Jalli

13. Jauzi ka Halwa: Right on the main junction of Nampally, you’ll find a small shop outlet in the name of Hameedi. Made with Jauzi (Nutmeg) and heavily laden with Ghee, the last Nizam had loved it so much that he sent a letter to name the shop after the nickname of one of his sons.

Special Jauzi ka Halwa

14. Famous And Bilal Ice Creams: Seasonal Fruits and along with it comes the seasonal Ice Creams. The oldest of the city’s dairies produce them freshly made from natural fruits and do make it a point to ask, what’s new on the menu miyan?

Bilal Ice Cream

15. Mandi At Barkas: Barkas is an area completely cut-off from the main city. Known for it’s Persian and Yemenis population, they’ve combined both the food cultures together. A late night long drive and then settle over a huge plate of Laham or Faham Mandi at Mataam-Al-Arabi, Yum Yum Tree and the likes and you’ll be licking your fingers dry. Post 12 AM is the best time to head out to these place, once the late night hunger kicks in.

Mandi At Barkas

The lineup covers the most iconic of dishes as seen through a local point of view. Hyderabad as a city has a lot more to offer when explored. But a walk down the lanes brimming with kebabs and Biryani and you sure are going to be beginning a journey, with lots of memories and more food journey to come back.

If ever in the city during the holy month of Ramzan, when the entire city of Hyderabad is all decked up with festivities and a lot more, having to taste the Haleem should figure high on the list. The Iranians might have invented it, but Hyderabad is where it’s soul lies. Some of the city’s outlets too serve Haleem throughout the year, but most of the city folks swear by having it only during this month.

Haleem At Cafe 555

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