Chicken. Mutton. Boneless. Egg. Vegetarian (stop it, be nice). You’ve tried them all, and you probably have a favourite. While you’ve been wiping off that last grain of saffron rice from your silverware, you sit on an unexplored treasure of Hyderabadi cuisine – which goes beyond the much loved biryani.
As the festive season ushers in nights of third helpings and undisclosed number of tipples, the coveted biryani promises to grace every other supper table. While you chow down this resident pièce de résistance like a ravenous college student, this season take a step further and make acquaintance with the lesser known but just as lip-smackin’ members of Hyderabadi cuisine. A blend of Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and South Indian palates, the fare of the Nizams is famed for its decadence and love for meat – making it your perfect supper soulmate for the coming celebratory months. #DSSCRecommends five must-try dishes from Hyderabad that’ll put biryani on the back burner (we jest, don’t throw that claypot at us!).
“Eat your greens” – how many times has this maxim eaten into your share of meat on the plate? But what if we told you there’s a dish that promises balance between the two in a single serving? Say hello to Mutton Dalcha, the perfect harmony of meat, lentils, and vegetables – and of course, an ace palate pleaser. This curry dish is prepared with chana dal (Bengal gram), brinjal, bottle gourd or pumpkin, and mutton, and is your perfect fix for ODing on ghosht yet sidestepping a meat-only diet. Have it with rotis, plain rice, or – you know it – some mutton biryani; and don’t forget to carve out nap time post this indulgence!
A mutton stew, marag is a concoction of Indian spices (think cardamom, black pepper, carom seeds, bay leaf, etc.) with tender mutton pieces, meat falling off the bone. A popular dish in the southern city, marag has made it to the wedding menus as a recurring member – and as the gospel truth goes, once a dish makes it to weddings, you cannot not try it. Have this soup in all its glory, or pair it with the eternal favourites roomali roti or naan.
All meat and rice? No Sir. Though the common perception goes that Hyderabadi fare leans towards non-vegetarian, it also offers up an equal share of stunning vegetarian options. On the top of the charts being baghara baingan. Made using baby eggplants, tamarind, curry leaves, coconut, sesame, poppy seeds, peanuts, and more; this stuffed eggplant dish results in a rich creamy curry, with a tangy flavour laden with spices. Take note, this may be the most flavourful eggplant you’ve tried ever! Relish it with rice or breads, the baghara baingan vows to remain as delectable with both.
Yet another vegetarian delight from the Hyderabad platter, tootak is an appetiser which can make you forget all about the existence of main course. Shaped like dough balls, this baked snack is made with semolina and khoya. As you bite in, a stuffing of spicy paneer and potato, with the slight taste of saffron-rose water welcome you. A snack break or late night binge, this treat shall serve you well at any time and in any form.
Khubani ka Meetha
When rounding off a Hyderabadi meal, how can the dessert not be decadence defined? Although we suggest you take these festive months as a prime opportunity to dig into khubani ka meetha as often – Hyderabadi main course or not. Prepped using dried apricots (khubani) & sugar syrup, and topped with almonds and fresh cream, this dessert is as quick-n-easy to make as it is delish. A puree, the sweet from apricots is offset by the tang from spices such as cardamom and saffron, making it the perfect fit for your sweet tooth yet avoiding that sugar overkill.
Go ahead, explore the cuisine beyond the rice delicacy, but fret not, you shall always have a hot clay pot of biryani to come home to!
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