Hyderabad and its culinary legacy clearly depict its preference towards meat, but the vegetarians too have much to indulge over says Shraddha Motipara.
Vegetarian, and in Hyderabad? Don’t pay attention to all the hype about the city’s non-vegetarian specialities. Instead try some of their traditional vegetarian preparations, recipes which are just as old as their meaty counterparts.
1. Baghare Baigan
Hyderabadi recipes are famous for their unique use of roasted spices and this traditional Hyderabadi Baghare Baingan (stuffed aubergines/eggplant) is definitely no exception! Baghara means tempering the oil with spices, a traditional Indian practice of cooking to enhance the aroma of a dish. Deep purple baby eggplants are first stuffed with flavoured a coconut-groundnut-sesame paste, then tempered in hot oil and finally simmered in fragrant and spicy gravy slowly absorbing the flavour and acquiring the rich and creamy taste.
2. Mirchi ka Salan
A classic dish from the city of the Nizams, the Mirchi ka Salan, is not for the faint-hearted (by the way, ‘salan’, is Hyderabadi lingo for ‘curry’). This spicy, tangy curry is prepared with jalapeno chillies (the long, thick green ones called ‘bhavnagiri mirchi’ in India) cooked in a coconut and peanut based gravy with plenty of spices and condiments. Though served conventionally with the Hyderabadi Biryani, it also goes well with steamed rice.
3. Double ka Meetha
This rich Indian bread pudding is made with hot, crisp fried roundels of bread soaked in saffron and cardamom – flavoured sugar syrup and topped with nuts and fresh cream. It is a traditional Hyderabadi desert without which, any Hyderabadi wedding or party would be deemed incomplete.
4. Khubani ka Meetha
Khubani is Urdu for apricot. Khubani-ka-Meetha, another traditional Hyderabadi sweet from the reign of the Mughals, is made with apricots, boiled with sugar to make a thick sugar soup garnished with blanched almonds or apricot kernels and topped with malai or ice-cream.
5. Irani Chai
Do the lines ‘Dubai Ka Chashma, Cheen Ki Chaddi, Aur Irani Chai’ from a popular Hindi movie song ring a bell? There are a few things which can be called quintessentially Hyderabadi and one of those is the Irani chai. Legend has it that people from Iran migrated to Hyderabad bringing with them the recipe to their traditional tea and hence the name, Irani chai. Here’s an interesting piece of trivia. The original Irani chai was made without any milk – just tea leaves and water. You would then tuck a cube of sugar behind your cheek and slowly sip on the tea. However, the migrants decided to add a little local twist to this preparation by adding milk and sugar to the water and tea leaves when boiling. Many will swear by the original Iranian tea powder, however most places use Assam tea leaves. This sweet chai, goes perfectly with Osmania biscuits- soft tea biscuits named after last ruler of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan.
Some recommended eateries where you can find these palatable dishes: Bawarchi Restaurant, Café Bahar, Hotel Shadab, Paradise Food Court,Hyderabad House, Hotel Madina, Hotel Nayaab, Alpha, Pista House, Irani Chai, Waterfront Restaurant, The Great Kabab Factory, Kebab E Bahar
So there you have it, some spicy and some sweet flavours of Hyderabad. We would tell our meat-loving burrpers to try some of these dishes as well, especially the desserts.