Midnight Feast: Hyderabadi Biryani

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ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY wander the streets of Hyderabad in search of the city’s go-to late-night bites and nocturnal nosheries

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The software and BPO boom have transformed the old laid-back city of Hyderabad to ‘Cyberabad’, a metropolis on the go with a vibrant nightlife. Be it young professionals or late night revelers, Hyderabad’s ‘Midnight biryani’ (spicy rice dish with meat or vegetables) is a beacon for the hungry. 

It is believed Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s invading army introduced biryani to Hyderabad. However, it was under the Nizams or the Asaf Jahi dynasty that Turkic-Persian flavours blended with Andhra spices of Telangana to evolve into the iconic Hyderabadi dum biryani. Layered between beds of fragrant long-grained rice, the meat is steam cooked slowly in dum style – by sealing the handi (vessel) with dough.

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While non-Hyderabadis head to the old haunt Paradise, locals swear by smaller establishments like Bawarchi on RTC X Roads, Cafe Bahar in Basheer Bagh, Hotel Shadaab near Charminar, Parvez Hotel at Nampally and Hotel Sohail in Malakpet. At Rs.150 a plate, usually served with mirchi ka salan (curried chili peppers) and raita (onion cucumber in yoghurt), the dish is eminently affordable. Central Biryani Paradise in Panjagutta does a popular emu biryani.

Try midnight biryani at Taste of Hyderabad in Ameerpet, Tulips in Hotel Green Park, Begumpet (Rs.225, open till 3am) and Ohri’s Banjara (Rs.300). Upscale restaurants like Promenade at Aditya Park Inn (Midnight Masala Rs.500) and ITC Kakatiya’s Deccan Pavilion (Rs.600) offer elaborate buffets. Yet, nothing beats Bidri’s midnight buffet at the Marriott Hotel with authentic cuisine from the riyasats (kingdoms) of Andhra, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Kashmir to keep the midnight munchies away.

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Second Helping

Hyderabad’s culinary repertoire includes homegrown specialities like haleem (meat-wheat porridge) and pathar-ka-gosht (meat seared on a stone slab). But the hallmark of Nizami food culture is shikampuri kebab, a delicate mutton mince and lentil patty with a stuffing made of cottage cheese, mint, shallots and green chillies. The name shikampuri, which means “belly-full”, is fitting. Bidri at the Marriott Hotel does a deliciously authentic Shikampuri. Tank Bund Rd, Opp Hussain Sagar Lake, tel: +91 (0)40 2752 2577

Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This article was part of a South East Asian feature Moonlight Bites in a Singapore magazine.  

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