All about Hyderabadi cuisine


Legend goes that the Nizam of Hyderabad had 49 types of Biryanis cooked in his kitchen which churned out delicacies that were an amalgamation of Turkish, Mughlai and Arabic influences blended with native Telugu and Maratha culinary traditions.
Hyderabadi food hence is much more than Biryani and Shahi Tukra. Chef SK Saibjan who recently hosted an exquisite Hyderabadi Food Festival at Radisson Blu, Paschim Vihar, Delhi tweaked quite a number of recipes by fusing regular ingredients with flavors and fragrances from other cuisines. In an exclusive chit chat with us, he speaks about the Nizami food and what makes it among the most sought after cuisines of India.
What is the difference between Dum Pukht and Hyderabadi Biryani ?
The Lucknowi Biryani or the Awadhi Biryani is cooked mostly in northern India. Dum Pukht, or Awadhi Biryani is called so because it is made in the classic style using a dum, which basically means covering the top of the pot with flour dough. This seals the aromas inside the pot.
Hyderabadi Biryani has been popularized by Kacche Gosht Ki Biryani, which is made with raw, marinated mutton cooked in between the layers of rice.
Burani Raita has garlic as the main ingredient; Gosht Pasinde has beans and potatoes and you have White onion pudding also. Are there other such wacky and interesting food combinations?
Hyderabad has a history of continuous influx of migrants from all over the world and in general from the Indian sub-continent. Most of the foreign food had been improved to suit the culinary preferences, resulting to form the unique derivative cuisine that excels over the original.
Biryani (Turkish) and Haleem (Arabic) for instance are prepared all over India, but the Hyderabadi variety has a unique and distinct taste. So for that matter, almost every Hyderabadi dish is unique. But some special ones that need mention here include- Jaituni Malai Paneer Tikka , Qubani Kofta , Paneer Tikka Zardaloo, Tati Ke Kabab , Murgh Ki Champe , Tamatar Ka Halwa etc.Sheer Maal (Uzbek Origin), Tahini (Arabic), Irani Chai…the foreign influence on Hyderabadi food is profound. Name a few dishes that you think have pure, unadulterated Indian origin.
Baghara baingan – stuffed eggplants, a delicacy where tender and fresh brinjals are stuffed with grounded peanut-coconut mixture and cooked in a rich and creamy paste.
Dalcha – Mutton and Lentil delicacy.
Pathar-ka-Gosht – Mutton/lamb seared on a stone slab found in Hyderabad.
What is the typical Hyderabadi breakfast?
Haleem , Nihari with Kulcha , Keema with Parantha , Khageena ( Egg Preparation ) are the main dishes served during breakfast .
A lot of clarified butter and oil is used in Nizami dishes. What do you have for the diet conscious?
One of the most important things to keep in mind is – that fats and oil behave differently when heated. When the oil reaches its smoking point, a lot of the nutrients are destroyed and it can sometimes potentially form harmful compounds. Ghee is a healthy form of fat if taken in moderation. It has a high smoking point.
Also, different oils have varying amounts of fats – Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated and Saturated fats. Canola oil, which is made from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, is said to be among the healthiest of cooking oils. It has the lowest saturated fat content found in any oil. It’s seen as a healthy alternative as it is rich in mono unsaturated fats and is high in Omega 3.
Hyderabadi food tastes excellent when cooked in any medium as it gets its taste from the spices, not the fat which is used.
Apart from Badam ki Jali (with coin engraving), Khoobani ka Meetha and Shahi Tukra, names of some lesser known sweets include….?
Tamatar ka halwa, Figgie (Date and Khoya Burfi ), Mauz ka Meetha ( Banana and Milk pudding ), Gil-e-Firdosh ( Milk and Bottlegaurd Puddding )
Is it true that Sindhi Biryani originated in Hyderabad? Can you throw some light on its history?
No, Sindhi biryani is a special meat and rice biryani dish which is said to have originated in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
Sindhi Biryani is extremely spicy . It is made with lamb, yogurt, fried onions, and potatoes, and fewer tomatoes. Sindhi biryani also uses less food colouring compared to other biryanis, allowing the rich colours of the various meats, rice, and vegetables to blend without too much of the orange colouring.
What makes Hyderabadi Biryani so special?
When talking about Hyderabad, the first thing that comes to the mind is biryani and vice versa. The use of mutton, with a mix of spicy rice, aromatic seasonings and clay pot cooking is what makes it unique.
There are basically two variations of the biryani. The first is the Kachchi biryani and the other is pakki biryani where the meat is cooked before being layered between rice.
What is that one ingredient in Hyderabadi recipes which is common to most, if not all?
Hyderabadi cuisine is basically a meat and rice oriented cuisine. It contains a variety of ingredients that are commonly used,
ranging from vegetables, spices, meats, flavors, fruits etc. In the city of Hyderabad and its suburbs tomato and tamarind are the most commonly used ingredients.Boti kebab is basically small lamb pieces marinated in yoghurt and cooked on skewers in a tandoor or open fire.
Patthar Kebab originated in Hyderabad. It is made with lamb muscle meat marinated and cooked over a black granite stone about ½” thick which is heated over a bed of hot charcoal.
One favourite recipe that you will like to share with our readers.Chicken 1 kg, Oil 1/4 cup, Onions 3, Ginger Paste 1 tbsp, Garlic Paste 1 tbsp, Green Chilli Paste 1 tbsp, White Pepper Powder 1 tsp, Milk Solids (khoya) 1/2 cup, Almonds 1/4 cup, Yogurt 1 cup, Green Cardamom Powder 1/2 tsp, Rose Petal Powder 1/2 tsp, Fresh Cream 4 tbsps, Silver Varq for garnish, Almonds (sliced) for garnish, Pistachios (sliced) for garnishChicken 1 kg, Oil 1/4 cup, Onions 3, Ginger Paste 1 tbsp, Garlic Paste 1 tbsp, Green Chilli Paste 1 tbsp, White Pepper Powder 1 tsp, Milk Solids (khoya) 1/2 cup, Almonds 1/4 cup, Yogurt 1 cup, Green Cardamom Powder 1/2 tsp, Rose Petal Powder 1/2 tsp, Fresh Cream 4 tbsps, Silver Varq for garnish, Almonds (sliced) for garnish, Pistachios (sliced) for garnishChop onions. Grind the almonds into a fine paste.
Heat oil in a cooking vessel, add sliced onions and saute till golden brown.
Add the ginger and garlic paste. Add the green chilli paste and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the almond paste, khoya and yogurt, cook slowly for 15-20 minutesAdd the white pepper powder and stir.
Now add the chicken pieces and cook further on slow heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in 1 cup of water and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Once the chicken is cooked add the fresh cream and stir.
Add the cardamom powder and rose petal powder, simmer for 2 minutes and remove.
Garnish with silver varq, almond and pista slices.

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