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Badiya biryani

The food is cooked by those who've mastered Nawabi cuisine. -- Photo: K. Murali Kumar

A RESTAURANT that offers Hyderabadi cuisine is not exactly a dream destination for a vegetarian. So, to save myself some embarrassment, I took along a proud non-vegetarian and a part-Hyderabadi on my trip to Hyderabad House in Koramangala.

Azmath, who manages the restaurant, was keen that I don't feel left out as the two men discussed the intricacies of cooking the famous Hyderabadi dum pukht biryani (the sealed lid, the hot coals on top... ) and the generous Hyderbadi appetite and hospitality. So, he kept me engaged with a spread of vegetarian dishes the restaurant offers. Not a huge one, as I suspected, but enough to keep me going for a while.

There was the typical Hyderabadi lukhmi, something of an odd-shaped samosa with a more frugal filling. As I moved to rumali roti with bagara baingan and aloo methi, Azmath assured me that they would be making additions to the vegetarian section. Rumali roti was tougher than you would expect, but bagara baingan made up for it.

My companion, in the meantime, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the whole fare — from mutton shikampur for a starter to typical Hyderabadi sweets for dessert, with kali mirch ka gosht with rumali roti and biryani in between. It was a drizzly afternoon, and he pronounced that nothing could be better than pepper mutton to keep the cold at bay. He didn't particularly care for the fried fish, though, not really part of a typical Hyderabadi platter.


Then came the highlight of the Hyderabadi cuisine — dum pukht biryani. In stark contrast to the rest of the dishes that are generous with oil, biryani is dry and absolutely sober on the tongue. My companion asserted that biriyani was "authentic", but the only missing factor was that we were not eating it in Hyderabad itself. Equally interesting was the mirch ka salan, a desi sauce that always accompanies Hyderbadi biryani. Out of consideration for us poor vegetarians, Hyderabad House serves a vegetarian variant of biryani too.

Azmath says they get their spices from Hyderabad since "it's not the same here". They have a centralised kitchen near Hennur Bande. "We don't have hep cooks like in five-star hotels!" laughs Azmath. "They are traditional bawarchis who have been cooking Nawabi cuisine for generations."

Rich sweets

Hyderbad House serves two typical Hyderbadi sweets — double ka meetha and qubani ka meetha. Double ka meeta is rich as rich can be, made of deep-fried bread, khova, and lots of dry fruits. Nice, but difficult to go beyond three mouthfuls. I found qubani ka meetha easier to handle, more tempered and with plenty of apricots. These sweets are not very familiar to Bangaloreans, but the demand for them is on the rise, said Azmath.

The chain of restaurants (which has six in Hyderabad) did a survey of an average Bangalorean's dietary habits before deciding to open outlets here. They found that a "cosmopolitan Bangaloreans" have adventurous tongues and tummies and are willing to give any new restaurant or cuisine a chance.

The restaurants in Bangalore (the other one being at Majestic) do more business compared to the takeaway counters attached to each, unlike in Hyderabad.

"Bangaloreans like to eat out and don't seem to mind even a 15-minute wait for a seat. But Hyderabadis like to eat at home, even when the food is not cooked at home," said Azmath. The takeaway counter at Hyderabad House, by the way, is very special for it has on display all the dishes, like in an ice-cream parlour!

The outlet in Koramangala can be contacted on 25521133 or 25525522.

* * *

Specials: Dum pukht biryani, qubani ka meetha, and double ka meetha
Ambiance: Nawabi, with green arches and paintings depicting Old Hyderabad
Wallet factor: Reasonable
Service: Courteous


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