A call from my mom was the sufficient nudge, I needed to start zipping my bags away for a new journey. I was aware of the unmercifully hot conditions of the place in May but a distant call of delicious food ringing in my ears made me oversee all oppositions. We boarded a night bus from Bangalore and headed towards our destination – Hyderabad. Next morning, I drew the curtains of those life sized windows apart to discover an interesting sight in hiding. The skies were a shade of light blue, lightly streaked with red, announcing the arrival of sun in horizon. While my husband twirled around in the seat beside me, nudging me to go back to sleep, I decided to plug in my earphones and stare at the beautiful skies, for I knew this beauty was ephemeral. Soon the sun would wake up, rise higher and make the surroundings unmercifully hot. If God ever gave out a best worker award, I am sure that the Andhra counterpart of sun would be the first to walk away with it.My dad was put up in a hotel at Banjara hills, supposedly, one of the posh areas in Hyderabad. Post a quick shower, we were ready for the first tick-off in my food wish list. We headed to Chutneys, an ala delight affair for foodies, particularly south indie breakfast fans. In a course of usual enquiry about food and people in Hyderabad, I recalled someone telling me that the best way to start a day in Hyderabad is with a filling breakfast at Chutneys. A small outlet of 2 floors, exteriors of Chutney did not seem to impress me a lot initially. Nevertheless, we entered. We were too hungry to hunt for another restaurant with seemingly better exteriors. It was buzzing with people that saturday morning. Somehow we managed to grab a table and ordered a masala dosa and a plate of idli vada. Speaking of Chutneys, it literally means they serve a variety of chutneys as condiments to whatever you order.Mind you, not even one of them is avoidable. Every chutney has a delightful flavor.
The sambar served here deserves a special mention. It is a combination of sour and spicy taste with a tinge of sweetness, served at a temperature just perfect for the health of your tastebuds. Idlis are a shade of pearl white and so soft, they keep breaking between your fingers if you prefer to eat with bare hands. Watching my brother struggle with his Idlis, better sense prevailed and I opted for a fork. Dipping a slice of idli into hot sambar, swiping off a blob of chutney,I wolved down the combo in one go. It was like an elixir to my tongue, wanting more ,not ready to let go of that taste for a long, long time. Dosas are equally good. The sight of a crispy dosa protectively covering up a mixture of mildly spiced, mashed potatoes and fried peanuts with a dollop of ghee dripping off a side can make the mouth of any person water, who cares, even if he has just had a 7 course buffet lunch.The prices are a little on the higher side but who cares if you get food as this. With the third Dosa under chews, I had almost hatched a perfect plan to kidnap the chef from their kitchens but since I did not want the Telangana police to run behind me, before I tick off all the dishes from my list, I decided to postpone the thought for a while.Since Sun Gods were not so merciful, we decided to start for Charminar in the evening. Studded with history and 4 beautiful, royal pillars, the Char minar stands shining with glory like a King, at the center of a huge market. A beautiful mosque, the Jama Masjid guards the Minarets from the front, acing the beauty quotient of this beautiful piece of history. On the other side of the Charminar, a sprawling market dazzles with millions of glass bangles on display. We entered CharMinar, all excited. Steep stairwells lead to the upper portion of the monument, which exudes a great view of the nearby Mosque and of the miling crowd scattered all over laad Bazar, the bangle market. The laad bazar houses the popular hyderabadi stone bangles, famous for their glitter and shine.
Exported to different parts of country, these bangles are known for their everlasting shine and glitter. Now, when you see a glittering hand steal the show of an event, you know where her little secret came from.
A small bakery just outside the charminar attracts huge crowd for its famous ‘Irani Tea’ and Osmania biscuits. I tasted freshly made biscuits, straight from the oven with a cup of steaming hot tea at..? Any guesses for the price? Just 12 rupee for the combo. A biscuit at just 2 bucks. Bangalore bakeries should learn a lesson or two from these magicians of bakers. The biscuits taste heavenly. This is certainly not something to be missed when in Hyderabad. Most beautiful thing about Jama masjid is that it allows its women devotees to offer namaz at the mosque. Usually, women are not allowed inside a mosque in India, this being a beautiful exception. With hyderabadi mutton biryani featuring at the top of the wish food list, we zeroed in at Bawarchi based on the amazing reviews by the locals. And we were not disappointed. The sight of steaming biryani, served in humungous portions is enough to calm down a raging bull. Long grained, partially colored rice, covering chunks of delicious, soft, mildly spiced meat, garnished with deep fried golden, crispy slices of onion and sliced apricots. Biryani has been a hit with people of all ages since time immemorial. Hyderabadis have a variety of accompaniments to go with this special food. Baghare Baingan (fried aubergines soaked in sour curd) being one of their raging favorites.
Having filled our bellies with spices and rice, cravings for an authentic hyderabadi desert arose by many folds. I quickly scanned my list and found ‘double ka meetha’ to be the one. Double ka meetha is a sweet dish made of fried bread, served with chilled condensed milk, topped with chopped dry fruits. A pinch of orange food color enhances its aesthetic beauty. With a delightful desert, of exact sweetness and taste, we left for hotel, full and satiated.
We planned on dedicating the next day to history, entirely hopefully. Apart from delicious food, Hyderabad is a connoseiur of rich and vibrant history. From the tales of Nizam of Hyderabad to the glory of Golconda fort, our local driver left no stones unturned in convincing us that Hyderabad indeed is a city of tales. So if you belong to the story listeners clan, you have hit the destination’s bulls eye. One of our driver’s many fascinating stories revealed that in earlier days, the Nizam used to arrange for daily feasts for the beggars in Hyderabad, to curb begging in the city. Such a noble idea! I think our PM should take a cue from our history to curb serious problems as beggary.
Golconda fort is a treat for eyes of people like me who are always thirsty for history. Guides go about spinning tales of glory, valour and bravery of kings and nizam who ruled those days. One of many amazing places inside the Golconda fort is a clapping spot. This particular dome at the entrance of Golconda is an enchanting place. If one claps, standing at the centre of the dome, folklore has it that the echo elongates till the top of the most distant fort present at inside the compound. Its a wonder, how laws of applied physics helped in alerting the nizam of his enemies, those days. I am speaking of time, more than 100 years ago.
Hearsay ensure that the top of Golconda fort provides the best of views in entire hyderabad. But they say, the best comes with a price. Stuffed with a plateful of rich chicken biryani, climbing close to 800 steps seemed nothing short of a nightmare. Nevertheless, we trodded upward. Panting, puffing we reached the top after what seemed an eon.’ No pain, no gain ‘ is a well established proverb. The view we earned ascertained it. The sun had just settled down behind the clouds, which seemed touchably close. Fragile rays of sunlight streaming through pink clouds made the environment dreamy. It was beautiful.
Post a filling tryst with history, we sped towards a haleem market to backfill our stomachs, Haleem market is a living buffet of haleem. Chicken and mutton haleem are among a prominent hits. Normally, Haleem market comes to life in days of Ramzan, when tired and hungry muslims flock together to this market to break their day long fast. This delicacy is made of mashed pulses and chuncks of chicken/mutton, spiced heavily and slow cooked for hours. A visit to Hyderabad is definitely incomplete without a steaming bowl of haleem. Out of all the hyderabadi flavors tasted, ‘double ka meetha’ and those fresh Osmania biscuits we devoured still stand out as my personal favorites. As the day came to an end, I scanned my list to find new additions by other bloggers. Though I was disappointed with the high velocity and ofcourse, scarcity of time, It gave me a worthy reason to get back and try back my foodie shoes here again. For a historical throwback and incurable food attacks, just think nowhere beyond Hyderabad. This city makes you plan a revisit, as soon as you start your way back home. As per my comeback plans, honestly cant wait.
P.S. – Hyderabadi delicacies described in this blog will taste lot better when you replace your imagination with a tasting shot in real.
So, give your watering mouth a shut. Head on to Hyderabad. Binge in.