I love travelling to the city of Hyderabad when my work takes me there. And to be fair, it’s pretty often. I don’t want to put a number on it, but my mother is convinced I’m staying there and occasionally come to Delhi to show my face!
My first tryst with the city was way back in 1999 when in the summer my parents took the sister and I on a month-long exploration trip of the Southern part of India. We went to Andhra Pradesh (now broken into AP and Telangana), Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Oh what a glorious month it was. From seeing and visiting historical gems to bathing in the seaside, gorging on local spicy food to learning what Indian history books have neglected in teaching courses. Of course, the trip is etched in my memory because of my first summer crush in the form of a very handsome marine engineer but that’s a story for another time!
Coming to Hyderabad, I remember really liking the city. The hustle and bustle of the old city, the view of the Charminar from the gate, the smells of spices and perfumes, the first old Golconda Fort to the first taste of succulent Hyderabadi biryani. I found the place to be a mix of the modern and old, a combination of what cities should be.
Over the years, every time I go back on work, I feel the city growing rapidly. The suburbs which were empty are now booming IT areas. There are more designer stores and luxury cars but what I love about Hyderabad is that it still retains the grandeur which exists along with the modernity.
It’s never possible to go back to all the places I love eating at in every trip so I try to go to rotate. If I gorge on biryani in one trip, I go to my favourite kebab place on the next one. Here’s a list of my favourite eating spots in Hyderabad. Try out a few on your next trip there and let me know how you like them!
Succulent Mutton Biryani at Hotel Shadab
Located in the Old City near the Charminar and Chowmahalla Palace, this place is buzzing with customers all the time. And why not when they serve the best mutton biryani in the city? Well, at least according to me. Squeeze yourself onto the wooden benches which can be a pain if you haven’t run in a few days and place your order. As the bowl of rice comes to your table the aroma hits you. The server is a pro and serves you a big helping of the biryani along with pieces of the oh-so-succulent mutton. Your mouth waters. Mix the saalan and youghurt with the rice and meat. You’ll know why this place is so popular the moment the first bite hits your taste buds. Finish your meal with a helping of sweet milky tea and you don’t need to eat the whole day.
Pocket pinch: Rs 500 for 2 (approx)
Fried Chicken at Siddique Kabab Centre
There are four locations across the city and they serve the best fried chicken kebabs one can have. I end up going to the one near Kondapur because work is nearby. Pay at the counter and take a coupon. The smell of freshly grilled chicken is everywhere. Of course they have other kebabs but go there for the fried chicken. They serve a half plate with eight big pieces. It’s fried in front of your eyes by a pro with asbestos hands. He places the piping hot pieces on your plate and all you need is a roti to go with the gorgeous red pieces of chicken.
Pocket pinch: Rs 400 for 2
Rayalaseema Ruchulu for Regional Delicacies
They have outlets in the city and you must visit one to eat the food from the Rayalaseema region. Hot, spicy and delicious, I try to go back on every single visit. My favourite is the Gongura Mamsam or mutton cooked with Sorrel leaves. For an appetizer, try the Miryala Royyalu (prawns with pepper) because it just gets the taste buds going. It has the right amount of tanginess which bodes well with steamed rice. My recommendation is to try the platter which has goat, chicken and brain. It gives you a taste of what the food in the region is like.
Pocket pinch: Rs 1500 for 2
Breakfast at Chutney’s
There are a ton of dosa joints all over the city but I love going to an outlet of Chutney’s just for their namesake chutneys! Order yourself a steamed dosa or idly and gorge on them with a big helping of the different chutneys kept on every table. They are tasty, thick in consistency and each one has a unique flavour. What I also love about their presentation is they serve the food on banana leaves!
Pocket pinch: Rs 700 for 2
Kebabs at Paradise
Biryani from Paradise is synonymous with Hyderabad. Though I don’t go there often, one must say when I have to bring back Hyderabadi biryani to Delhi, they do a marvelous job in packaging. Packed in sturdy boxes, there’s no chance of leakage. All one has to do is heat the meal at home and devour a taste of Hyderabad. Personally, more than the biryani, their kebabs deserve an ovation. From the mutton pepper to mutton sheek to the kalmi kebab, each take centre stage.
Pocket pinch: Rs 700 for 2
PS: If you think I should try out something new, do let me know! I know I’ll be back in Hyderabad again very soon!