On a culinary visit to the world of the Nizam
From the popular Haleem Murgh Pas to the tasty Pista Nawabi Bindi Adraki, a veritable feast is in store for food lovers at the Hyderabadi Food Festival in Fortune Pandiyan Hotel.
The Orchid restaurant wears a festive look with overflowing jewel boxes, ornaments made of pearl look-alikes and dazzling danglers creating an ambience that reflects the aristocratic lifestyle of the rulers of Hyderabad.
Hyderabadi food is incomplete without the spread from the Nizam’s kitchen. If the layered dum biryani appeals to the taste buds, the Shikampuri Chicken Kebab is even tastier. “The hung curd not only binds the kebabs, but also minimises the need to use lime juice as marinade,” says P. Bala Subramanian, Executive Chef. “The citric acid of the juice roughens the surface of the meat.”
The kaju and pista-flavoured recipes add to the fine distillation of taste. The spicy and sour Gongura Mamesam, mutton cooked with chopped onion, tomato and mashed gongura leaves, lingers long enough to leave a lasting impression. “The mutton has to be cooked well so that the stalk blends well with other ingredients,” he says.
Haleem is a signature dish of the Nizams. It is much sought after during the holy month of Ramadan. A succulent dish of meat, wheat and ghee is cooked to a porridge-like consistency. “Haleem dish takes long hours to prepare,” says Bala Subramanian.
“The dish is the equivalent of our ‘nonbu kanji’. It is highly nutrient. In gulf countries, it is taken to break the day-long fast along with dates and gulab (rose). Haleem is prepared either with broken rice or wheat. For one kg of mutton or chicken only 200 gm of broken wheat or rice is used,” he explains.
In Hyderabadi food, there are two types of dum biryanis. In the traditional layered biryani, the meat, rice and masala are spread alternately. The Kachi biryani is the other type of preparation where the mutton pieces are put at the bottom and topped with the half-boiled rice. Then it is placed on the dum.
“The biryani could have been better,” says M.A. Nazimul Gani, a regular customer to the hotel. “It lacks the Hyderabadi flavour and is a bit oily. The rice is overcooked. Other than the biryani, the kebabs impressed me the most. The meat is soft and tastes good. The tariff is economical. You don’t get such a spread for this price,” he says.
Vegetarians too have their share of the feast with dishes like the Kaaliyasti Biryani flavoured with ghee and cashew and spicy Aloo Baingan Masala. The chef has tweaked the Kofta Paneer Anarkali recipe, adding pomegranate juice and seeds. The presence of mango ginger in the Pista Nawabi Bindi Adraki dish adds more flavour to the dish.
Among the desserts, Phirni, made of coarsely ground raw rice flour and assorted nuts and thickened with condensed milk, is a culinary treat. Also on the platter are the Kubani Ki Meetha, a halwa with dry apricots, Pista roll and Kadha Ka Halwa.
The festival is on at the Orchid restaurant in Fortune Pandiyan Hotel till September 16. The buffet is available for lunch and dinner during weekends and only for dinner on other days.
Tariff is Rs.550 for adults and Rs.300 for children.
For reservations call 9952424420 and 9791410101.