Most frequent travellers to Hyderabad will tell you that it's a culinary paradise. Despite the city's large variety of Nizami and traditional Telangana dishes (as well as dishes from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh), there's one dish that defines Hyderabad's culinary landscape. It's impossible to put together a list of biryani hotspots in Hyderabad and include everyone's favourite. Hyderabadis don't just love their biryani, they are biryani snobs with a strong opinion on the perfect biryani. There's more than just one type of Hyderabadi biryani. The more popular version is the pakki biryani where the ingredients are cooked before being assembled in layers and then cooked in a 'dum' style in a dough-sealed vessel. The other version - the kachchi gosht ki biryani, is more laborious and requires greater skill. The raw meat is marinated with spices overnight and soaked in curd before cooking.
Here's a list of restaurants that serve authentic Hyderabadi biryani:
I first stumbled upon this restaurant at 1:30 am during a Ramadan food walk with Zubair Ali of Hyderabad Food diaries that took me to some of the old city's iconic establishments. We had to wait over 30 minutes for a table even at that hour; a clear indication of the popular appeal of this restaurant. It's probably my favourite version of Hyderabadi biryani and is served with the traditional accompaniments of dahi chutney and mirchi ka saalan.
Where: Charminar, Ghansi Bazaar
Dum Pukht Begum, ITC Kohenur
Dum Pukht Begum is a fitting tribute to the regal kitchens of Hyderabad and one of the most romantic dinner venues in the city. There are quite a few local additions to the classic Dum Pukht menu including a faithful rendition of Hyderabad's most famous dessert - the Qubani ka Meetha. It also has one of the best versions of Hyderabadi biryani that you can sample at the fine dining venue.
Where: Hyderabad Knowledge City, Madhapur
Omar Aziz, whose family owns and manages this Hyderabad institution, took me backstage to the high-energy kitchen where large tea filters keep brewing their signature tea and their biryani section where biryani-cooks produce magic in large handis. The restaurant's paya that's served with a unique bread - chaar koni naan, is one of their bestsellers and so is the biryani that never disappoints.
Where: Charminar, Chatta Bazaar
This restaurant draws huge crowds during the month of Ramadan for its legendary Haleem. Proud Hyderabadis will tell you that the city's haleem - the quintessential Ramadan porridge with pounded meat blended with broken wheat, barley and lentils, is the best in India. Shah Ghouse is not just well known for its biryani but an equally popular stop (across four locations) round the year for its delicious and flavourful Hyderabad biryani.
Where: Raidurgam, Gachibowli
Adaa, Taj Falaknuma Palace
Perched 2000 ft. above the city, this luxury abode was one of the most splendid palaces the Nizams built. Adaa celebrates the finest of Nizami cuisine in an intimate setting that is a throwback to the extravagant lifestyles of the Nizams. The restaurant's Hyderabadi Kachchi biryani is one of its signatures and one more excuse to visit this hotel.
Where: Engine Bowli, Falaknuma
A popular hangout for local specialties like the Khichdi Kheema - a breakfast favourite in Hyderabad that combines minced meat with dal and rice. City Diamond is a popular after-hours dining spot for their value for money meals; their biryani is one of the stars of the late night show.
Where: Medhdipatnam Road
Well known for its chicken dishes, this restaurant features a large menu that also includes Chinese dishes. Bawarchi has built a loyal legion of fans for its large portions and authentic flavours. Among its long list of signature chicken dishes is a dum-style Chicken biryani - not all Hyderabadis are hung up on mutton biryani.
Where: Chikadpally New Nallakunta
So the next time you're in Hyderabad, do visit these places and try out the delectable and authentic biryanis!
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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.