Here’s a look at the city’s culinary landscape this year

Eat, drink and make merry

If we are done with complaining about ‘many’ all-day tiffin centres only then will we realise how the ‘coffee shop’ scene has evolved big time. The new age coffee shops are not just selling coffee. They are selling a concept for all ages. Irrespective of the size of the café and the menu, coffee shops are a sure shot hit because they are open all day and cater to a wider segment of budget and hunger pangs. Some places which opened to surprise and delight food lovers are Olive Bistro, Bombay Duck, Griffin, Café latte, Levels, Di Bella and Organic Coffee.

Each place has something unique and while they all offer coffee, there is tea and a variety of short eats as well. The places vary with their design and décor. A few like Olive have an added advantage of offering a panoramic view of the city from atop Durggam Cheruvu hills. Organic Coffee serves a variety of organic coffee and Di bella can win hearts with their desserts and new range of coffees that include marshmallow coffee. Griffin has a range of breads for bread lovers and Bombay Duck serves everything from desserts to coffee with a twist.

Caffeine overload? Head to the Ministry of Beers (MoB) at Jubilee Hills. This isn’t a coffee shop for sure but a place for original Belgian beers. A trip here can help you discover what food your beer can be paired with. So go ahead guzzle, eat and shout coffee!

Go with the grain

In an ideal situation, we must be finding Jowar roti, Ragi dosa and Ragi sankati in the menus of popular tiffin chains in the city. But we traded coarse millets packed with nutritional benefits for smooth, polished rice in our homes and restaurants followed suit. Millets are slowly being brought back by focused groups like Deccan Development Society and Timbuktu working in this sector. Aahaar Kuteer, the tiny eatery in Begumpet that has a millet menu, has loyal diners. Rayalaseema Ruchulu and Kritunga were the only places where you could sample these earlier. Now, you can buy millet grains and flours off supermarket shelves and millet savouries and sweets are sold at organic bazaars held in the city frequently. Recently, the Shri Shakti Institute of Hotel Management has a special millet menu and a discussion to mark the Terra Madre or Slow Food Movement Day. Many of us are still learning to differentiate the varieties of millets — pearl, finger, foxtail, etc but the process has begun.

Not out of a bottle

One of the aspects of living well is learning to reduce food miles. By doing this, as far as possible locally available ingredients are used even to prepare global cuisines. Many chefs at high-end restaurants and cafés take pride in plating house-made jams, sauces and dips along with our grilled sandwiches, croissants and burgers. Instead of serving packaged imported sauces loaded with preservatives, the idea is to use local vegetables, fruits and spices to make the pasta sauces and dips to ensure we get something fresh and healthy to eat. If the trend catches on in a big way, we get our money’s worth besides the health quotient.

Branching out

It can be excruciating to wade through dense traffic all the way to the Old City for that authentic plate of biryani. There were very few alternatives until recently. A home delivery option from the Old City would mean spending a small fortune. Foodies stood to gain as popular chains have now come to a place near you. Shadab’s opening at Banjara Hills was a blessing, so was Bahar’s short stint at Begumpet until it was taken over by Paradise. The need to localise was not just for Biryani but the time-tested Chinese eateries as well. Nanking opened at Vikrampuri and Banjara Hills and Hai-king opened at Jubilee Hills. With the city expanding rapidly, expect more branches of established names in the near future.

Regional food ahoy

Move over videshi food, desi food makes a loud noise in the city this year. This desi cuisine comes all the way from the East. The first big name in the list of regional food joints that opened doors to Hyderabadis was Oh Calcutta! Then came Call of Bengal, followed by Nabonno. If Call of Bengal is making it ‘sudh bangali’ with chicken kobiraji and their list of Mughlai parathas on the menu, Nabanno takes the cake with ponta bhaat and sutki maas.

If that is Bengali food, foodies with a palate for Telugu cuisine couldn’t get enough of Ulavacharu, the restaurant at Jubilee Hills. Ulavacharu is keeping the chef busy with patrons queuing up to eat Raju gari kodi pulao and Andhra kodi chips. Everything about this place is pure Andhra Pradesh food.

Then comes Palamuru grill in Madhapur, a dhaba-styled eatery catering to food lovers with a variety of pulusus, pappus, vepudus and their signature charcoal kebabs.