4 Restaurants in Hyderabad You Must Visit to Enjoy the Local Cuisine

Marryam H Reshii  |  Updated: August 18, 2017 13:04 IST

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4 Restaurants in Hyderabad You Must Visit to Enjoy the Local Cuisine
Highlights
  • Caf Bahar too serves memorable biryani in its Basheer Bagh branch
  • The haleem at Aish, The Park is reputed to be the finest in the city
  • The other great cuisine to try is local Andhra non-vegetarian dishes
As the capital city of Telangana, as the hi-tech capital of the south, as the capital of the Deccan rulers who reportedly came from Baghdad to establish a kingdom that was ruled by 13 nizams, Hyderabad has a plethora of cuisines and a short trip of three or four days is grossly insufficient to sample them all. Add to that the hip new restaurants and quirky cafes that are a new phenomenon in the city, and you’ll spend most of your day travelling between the ‘new’ city near the airport and the far more atmospheric old city of which the Charminar is the most famous landmark. So here is my own list, prepared after trekking to more eateries than I care to remember, in pursuit of that one great meal.

1. The Best Biryani

When in Hyderabad, how can you miss biryani! It is justly famous, being made by a technique that is unique: uncooked meat and raw rice are steamed together. Whereas you and I would land up with squidgy rice and tough mutton, expert Hyderabadi cooks marinate the meat and partially cook the rice, then layer them over and over again in giant pots, seal them and slow cook them. In the best cases, the mutton has released its flavor into the minimal stock so that the moist rice is redolent of meaty flavours. It happens nowhere else in the country but Hyderabad.
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Not surprisingly, everyone and his uncle have their favourite biryani restaurant. Some have created vast empires where the flavour has been the victim; others, like the Nizam Club, where the head cook creates a single pot of biryani a day, is open to members only. Shah Ghouse in Tolichowki, in the heart of the old city now has a new branch in Gatchibowli (which I have not yet tried) which is reputed to be just as good. Café Bahar too serves memorable biryani in its Basheer Bagh branch, though it is my opinion that the Shah Ghouse version is slightly more moist and flavourful. Neither of these outlets is particularly well-appointed nor do they conform to our idea of fine dining. For that, it is necessary to visit a different category of restaurant altogether, where fine dining is in the forefront, where you can enjoy your dinner with a glass of wine and where you will most certainly not have to share a table with strangers, which is the norm at all the old city eateries.
 
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(Also read The Other Hyderabadi Biryani With a 300-Year-Old Past)

2. Aish, The Park

Aish at The Park, is in a quiet, leafy part of town, overlooking the mighty prawns . The all cream decor has been done by designer Tarun Tahiliani and the restaurant calls to mind the aesthetes and noblemen of a bygone era. Do try the Chironjee Dalcha which substitutes the Chana Dal of traditionally prepared Dalcha with Chironjee. It used to be a prized dish among the aristocrats of old Hyderabad, and would have passed into oblivion had it not been revived in The Park. The other dish to try is the Haleem, reputed to be the finest in the city.
 
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Address: The Park Hotel, 22, Raj Bhavan Road, Somajiguda, Hyderabad

3. Spicy Venue, Jubilee Hills

The other great cuisine to try is local Andhra non-vegetarian dishes. Outside the state, their thunder is stolen by Hyderabadi food, but within Hyderabad, unpretentious eateries like Spicy Venue near Diamond House in Jubilee Hills will instantly convert you into a fan. Ignore the entire North Indian and Chinese menu and order liberally from the Telugu Delicacies. Royyala Iguru and Vepudu Iguru are prawns and crab stir-fry respectively. Both are cooked in a fairly incendiary spice mix. River prawns and crabs do the trick for this dish: the sweetness of the meat combine sensationally with the eye-watering spice. If you are a first-timer, do expect the staff to stand around, waiting to offer tissues, cold water or steamed rice to take the edge off the fire in your mouth. Less incendiary but just as tasty is the famous chepala pulusu or fish curry from Nellore on the coast. Made with a combination of tomatoes and tamarind for a sweet sour appeal, it is a superb example of Nellore’s signature fish curry.

(Also read: From the Kitchens of Hyderabad's Nizams: Haleem, Biryani and More)
 
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4. Jonathan’s Kitchen

Jonathan’s Kitchen may not serve biryani or indeed, any other Indian dish. But the Shrimp Cocktail with Jack Daniel’s Sauce, Welsh Rarebit and Cajun Fish have made their mark with the thousands of employees of the vast IT companies in the neighbourhood. Expect to let down your hair here to a spot of music (mostly electronic) after work and on weekends the eatery hosts the most outrageously popular brunch with a guitarist strumming country and western. Is Jonathan’s Kitchen representative of Hyderabad? Of course it is! To a young demographic, who come from all over the country to work in the IT industry, Blackened Salmon Steak constitutes comfort food as much as luqmi and green chutney is to another generation, at another end of the city.
 
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Address: Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Hyderabad 500008, India

Before we make the long trek back to the ‘new’ part of the city near the airport, do pack in a bit of sight-seeing. The Charminar is not only one of the most iconic buildings in the entire country, it has the best fruit market around it. Every time I have visited, I have bought the tastiest mulberries, figs, pomegranates, tadgulas (ice apples) and custard apples one can find. The fruit are all locally grown and are justly famous.

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About the Author:

Marryam H Reshii has been writing about food and lifestyle for a quarter of a century! She travels around the country to far-flung tribal villages and long-forgotten corners in search of elusive ingredients, obscure cooking vessels and recipes that are in danger of being supplanted by 'modernity'.

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