Hyderabadi cuisine is not plain Mughlai, but an amalgamation of Arabic, Persian and even Turkish influences
A trip to Hyderabad, India, is incomplete without relishing the rich cultural heritage of the Nizami lifestyle. Like the Nizams of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, who were known for their royal, lip-smacking delicacies, the Nizams of Hyderabad, too, share the same passion for food. For starters, there is the resemblance to Awadhi cuisine in many ways with meat being a frequent ingredient in most of the rich Nizami preparations. Hyderabad’s delectable cuisine is a fabulous potpourri of influences from the Mughal, Turkish, Arabic, Telugu and Marathwada kitchens.
Signature preparations such as pathar ka gosht (meat cooked on stone), chicken do pyaza (chicken cooked with onions), keema (spiced mince), kachche gosht ki biryani (meat cooked with yogurt and rice), mirchi ka salan (curried chili peppers), haleem (slow cooked meat combined with wheat), dalcha (meat cooked with pulses and spices), shahi tukra (a kind of bread pudding), zarda (sweet dish) and qubani ka meetha (sweet made from dried apricots) are prominent dishes from the Hyderabadi repertoire, a result of Indo-Muslim confluence.
“Hyderabadi cuisine evolved during the Nizami era and elevated to a sublime art form. Copious amounts of nuts, dairy, the use of dry coconut, tamarind and red chilies along with other spices are the main ingredients that make the cuisine different,” says Paul Noronha, Executive Chef – ITC Kakatiya.
The locals of Hyderabad take their breakfast very seriously and ensure that they eat keeping in line with their royal lineage. A hearty Hyderabadi breakfast consists of khichdi (dish of rice and lentils) accompanied with curd, pickle, papad and ghee, ande ka khageena (egg dish) with paratha (stuffed naan), minced meat, liver recipes, etc. Even today a lot of traditional Hyderabadi families continue the tradition of the Nizam’s royal breakfast, especially on the weekends.
“Hyderabad and Secunderabad were under the princely states and were the last to be a part of a united India. The food hence continued to survive in the street food segment of these places, as a shahi (royal) element in palaces and also has crept into kitchens and restaurants,” opines Anand Kumar, Executive Chef, Hyatt Hyderabad.
Hyderabadi cuisine is truly a feast for the senses with its rich flavours and aromas and a vast repertoire of preparations such as fragrant biryanis, succulent kababs, mouth-watering salans served with butter soft naans and a huge array of delicious desserts to end a meal fit for royalty!
Words: Jyoti Balani