Upma Pesarattu & Butter Dosa - Veg affairs of the trip :)

Upma Pesarattu & Butter Dosa - Veg affairs of the trip :)

Right from the time we decided the trip and started asking recommendations, we didn't think about veg food at all. Even to people who asked us our preferences, the reply was "Hard core / Pure non - vegetarians". So we kept all the Bandhi recommendations like Ram Ki Bandhi, Govind Ki Bandhi and other places in the reserved list. We decided if we have time & mood and happen to be in the vicinity we would give these veg places a shot. I was keen on trying the snacks though.

Pragathi Tiffins :

After a wonderful breakfast at Hotel Nayaab, we had some time to kill, as our next destination will open only by 10.30. Since Pragathi tiffins was nearby (It's in Hanuman Thekdi, Koti. Near Pragathi College) we thought of checking this place out. A small shop with an open kitchen and no seating arrangements. Pay for your food, pass the bill to the serving counter and watch the insane amount of butter being added in each and every dosai. We opted for one Paneer Butter Masala Dosai (Rs. 40). I really enjoyed watching the dosa being made. Can't say the same with the taste. I'm not a fan of fusion dosais and this one the batter wasn't just rice & urad dhal. It had maida & besan flour mixed to it. It was extremely crispy and tasted a bit sour. The stuffing was very good and so was the coconut chutney. Absolutely loved the chutney

Narayana Tiffins :

Last day of the trip, we decided to skip breakfast. The idea was to rest well, check out a cafe, then lunch and head straight to airport. But come on. After all we came all the way to Hyderabad and it won't be nice if we leave without tasting Pesarattu & Punugulu rite :P So we were on our way to Narayana Tiffins in Yousufguda near Banjara hills. Again a hole in the wall kind of place with a open kitchen and few chairs to sit. Punugulu wasn't available. We paid and took tokens for a plate of ghee Idly, Ghee upma pesarattu & the mysore bajji. Soft & pillow-y idlis with a generous amount of ghee was simply yummy. The allam pachadi aka the tamarind/ginger/jaggery chutney was a perfect accompaniment to the idlis. Upma pesarattu was heavenly. I thought it would be too much for us to finish it off and in no time it disappeared from the plate. It was literally "Vazhukittu Pochu" :) The bajji/bonda was perfectly seasones with a crispy outer and a soft inside. Paid a total of 90 bucks for these three items. A quick chat with the friendly gentleman behind the counter who happened to be the owner of the place. He said his native is TamilNadu & got settled here and running this place for 20 years. It was nice to hear a broken Tamil after three days of Hindi & Telugu :D

Hotel Nayaab, Hyderabad

Hotel Nayaab, Hyderabad

A little tired by the end of the day and a little more dissatisfaction with the way our first day evening went (due to lack of proper plannig), on our way back to the room, we decided that we will plan the Day-2 properly and stick to the schedule. So according to our sketch we started the day with breakfast at Nayaab in Ghansi Bazaar, Charminar.

This was another place highly recommended for breakfast. I was told that they open as early as 4 am and serve throughout the day upto 11 pm. We were there by 8 and we already knew what to order. Since both of us aren't fan of brain fry, we decided to skip that. A portion of Malai paya (Rs.200), kheema (Rs.90), tandoori roti (Rs.12) & butter naan(Rs.30) were our orders. Malai paya was love at first sight for me :) That fiery red masala base was lip smackingly delicious. Completely different from the paya we get here. And that Malai really helped in bringing down the heat a bit :) Kheema was good but give a choice, I would lean towards the kheema from Shah Ghouse. This somewhat lacked a balance in the spices. Finished off with a thick kesar chai aka saffron chai (Rs.25) which was the perfect way to end the first breakfast session :) A friend who joined us later ordered naan & bheja fry (Rs.140) and we were told that bheja fry was yummy.

Paid 600 bucks for all these which was absolutely worth the money.

Day 2 - Meal 6 - Breakfast 

Hotel Shadab, Hyderabad

Hotel Shadab, Hyderabad

After the Chai session at Nimrah Cafe, we were a bit lost while trying to find a lassi shop near Charminar. Walking around Charminar in circles, amidst that heavy crowd, I was tired and I just wanted to sit and relax somewhere. We dropped the idea of finding the lassi shop and took an auto to Shadab at Ghansi Bazar for the dinner. It was 10 when we reached there and I was surprised by the crowd waiting to dine at that time. Even when we left by 11.30 people kept coming in.

After a good 20-25 minutes wait, we managed to get a table. Few of the kebabs we wanted to try weren't available. Some main courses too. We settled for a portion of Haleem, Mutton Biriyani, Mutton Boti Kebab & Banjara kebab with few soft drinks. I'm not a big fan of Haleem and this one was average. Felt more fat getting struck to the throat making it difficult to swallow it. And yep it had bones in every spoonful. Kebabs were bad news. The meat was definitely old and we couldn't go further after a piece. When the waiter asked about the kebabs, we gave our feedback and his reaction was "Why the hell did I ask you" :P

Mutton biriyani was the only saving grace for the night. Enough for two normal eaters, typical Hyderabadi biriyani with spicy masala and juicy mutton. The mirchi ka salan was good too. While the biriyani tasted good, it left me bloated. According to "My Standards" I won't label it as a good biriyani even though it tasted good.

Paid about 1200 bucks for all these. 

Day 1 - Meal 5 - Dinner - End of Day 1 :)

Chai at Charminar !! The cafe's of Hyderabad

Chai at Charminar !! The cafe's of Hyderabad

Nimrah Cafe, Charminar

After the high tea seesion at Gourmet Baklava, we went back to our room, rested for a while and travelled more than an hour to reach Charminar. Since it was Ramadan, charminar was heavily crowded than the usual and was bustling with more business activities. Street vendors with food, clothes, accessories and what not. We headed straight to the Nimrah Cafe which overlooks the Charminar. Since the first chai at the land of Nizams was a disaster I had high expectations for the Irani Chai, this cafe is famous for. The moment you enter the cafe the aroma of freshly baked biscuits wafts through the air. They have a huge varieties of biscuits in display along with some cakes, puffs and samosa, lukmi and all. We ordered three chai and got ourselves an assorted plate of biscuits that had most of them from the display. To be honest, Chai was above average. Could be a little more stronger but that's my preference. The biscuits were absolutely yummy. Especially the coconut and Osmania biscuits were melt in the mouth type. Biscuits range from Rs. 4 to Rs. 12 each and I guess the chai was about Rs.12

Day 1 - Meal 4 - Pre Dinner Snacking

Cafe Niloufer, Lakdikapul

When we had plans to buy some Osmania biscuits for friends and family, we were told that Subhan bakery would be better than Karachi Bakery. Moreover with every street having an Karachi Bakery outlet, I wasn't keen on buying from there as I find them to be just okayish. When we had biscuits at Subhan Bakery I found the ones from Nimrah cafe to be much better than this. We decided check out Nimrah cafe the next day to get some biscuits packed. But fortunately, I read somewhere that Cafe Niloufer is worth the try for biscuits too. So after some Kebab hogging, we checked into Cafe Niloufer for chai & biscuits. I wanted to ease out the overload of meat and hence went with a full lemon tea (Rs.25) And a staff helped us with few biscuit samples which I loved to the core. Their Osmania biscuits were the best out of all the places I tried. So was the dry fruit & nut cookies. The chocolate cookies, melting moments & the almond sticks were simply mind blowing. When we requested for customisation of boxes (which weren't available on the shelves), the staff obliged and we got ourselves three different flavours packed in a single box. We got about 12 such boxes along with a truck load of other cookies too :P Prices starts from Rs. 50 / 100 gms and goes upto Rs. 160 depending upon the variants and the packing. Paid close to 3K here for the packed stuffs :D

Day 2 - Meal 11 - Pre dinner tea session

Gourmet Baklava - A Luxury Lebanese Affair

Gourmet Baklava - A Luxury Lebanese Affair

After a sumptuous lunch and a few mins of relaxation with special sweet pan at Dimmy's (bang opposite to Rayalaseema Ruchulu at Jubilee Hills), we headed straight to Gourmet Baklava at Banjara Hills. This place was highly recommended by our friend in Hyderabad. And also we were looking for dessert options post lunch.

The moment I entered this place, it was love at first sight for me :) The array of baklavas in various shapes and sizes with different fillings was a treat to the eyes. A quick chat with the gentleman behind the counter, we went for an assorted plate of baklava (Rs.250). Everything on the plate was delicious except the baklava with the walnut filling. I'm not a great fan walnuts that aren't roasted. The lady finger was simply yummy.

They make Kunafa fresh on orders. It comes in three different sizes - Small, medium & large. We went for a smaller portion and we struggled to finish it off. The pastry dough is pressed over an aluminium plate and cheese is added on the top. Then the plate is heated over a wheel like structure to ensure uniform cooking. He checked for the consistency twice in between and topped the pastry with pistachio & sugar syrup. The taste was just mindblowing. 

We wanted to try both the Turkish Tea & Coffee. But we were told that they'll be served in a pot that can be shared by two people. So we went with a pot of Turkish coffee. Boy oh boy !! What an welcoming change to the overdose of sugar & butter it was :) Loved the strong coffee. It was the perfect finish to the high tea session :P

They also sell gift packs / assorted packs of Baklavas in half & one kg boxes. Priced at 1800 for half kg, we got a couple of customised box. And it was packed neatly so that we can take it back home without any damage to the beauties. We were told that these baklavas would keep well for a month without the need for refrigeration. They even send courier across the country :D

Paid about 4.7K including the two half kg boxes. Absolutely worth the money.

Rayalaseema Ruchulu - A glimpse of Rayalaseema at Hyderabad

Rayalaseema Ruchulu - A glimpse of Rayalaseema at Hyderabad

When we were looking out for places that serve authentic/traditional Andhra cuisine for lunch, few places like Kritunga, Shri Kanya & Rayalaseema Ruchulu were strongly recommended. We zeroed in Rayalaseema Ruchulu for first day lunch. They have about 6 outlets across the city. We chose the Jubilee hills outlet as few other places in our list were in and around Jubilee hills. A bright and spacious restaurant with an interesting menu.

Only the Jubilee hills outlet serves buffet featuring a good lot of signature dishes from their a la carte menu. And the dishes changes everyday it seems. I don't remember the last time, when I was so confused to make a choice. I really wanted to try their Ulavucharu mamsam pulao and unfortunately that wasn't part of the buffet. While narrowing down from a la carte, the minimum dishes we zeroed in seemed to be too much for us. I made Shab go through my tantrums & the unstable mind oscillating between the buffet & a la carte. Finally we decided to go with the a la carte as it had lot of dishes we wanted to try and we ordered a portion of ulavucharu mamsam pulao separately.

The mantra of the entire trip was to get a taste/glimpse of the food scene at Hyderabad and not to over eat :P Cos we had couple more places to check out after lunch. So took a little portion in everything that interested me. Started with Kodi shorba for the soup. A thin flavourful chicken soup prepared in a rustic way. Perfect start to the meal. I kept myself away from the vegetarian starters and had only the non veg starters. The seema kodi - batter fried chicken was good. I was in love with the ulavucharu kodi vepudu. Medium sized chunks of chicken (with bone) stir fried with horesegram base was simply yummy. The tawa chepa fry (katla fish fry) was well made. Fresh fish, well seasoned and fried to perfection rendering a crispy, caramelised skin and soft and fall apart flesh. It was delicious.

For main course we started with Ulavucharu mamsam pulao. That's mutton pulao served with the ulavucharu (horsegram/kollu) gravy. We were told that the mutton was also cooked in the same ulavucharu gravy. Soft & succulent pieces of mutton complimented the fragrant pulao. Mixing the gravy with the pulao, the taste got elevated to multiple levels. A must try dish in this place. The other dish which I wanted to try was the Ragi Sangati & Nattu Kodi Pulusu. Luckily, the buffet featured these dishes. Ragi Sangati is Andhra's version of our kali. It would've been better if they were made smaller in size, which would have ensured even cooking. The portion of sangati I had some semi cooked or raw ragi rice flour. While the nattu kodi pulusu aka the nattu kozhi gravy was good, I absolutely loved the palli chutney (peanut chutney) which went well with the sankati.

Next I went for some Jonna rotte (Jowar/Sorghum roti) with paya kura (paya kuruma), chepa pulusu (fish gravy) & royyala vangaya iguru (prawns & brinjal semi gravy). Roti was soft and a tad bit of ghee smeared over the roti was too good. The plump prawns cooked with brinjal was different in a good way. Tangy fish curry & paya went well with the roti. 

Final round of main course was some veg affair. Tasted the podis in the spread along with some ghee, tomato pappu and palli chutney again (Yep. I was in total love with that, I helped myself with a generous amount of chutney :D) As always the podi & pappu combination is the best :)

For desserts it was chilled qubani ka meetha & warm gulab jamuns. A small scoop of vanilla ice cream would've created wonders. Unfortunately they had only strawberry flavour. So skipped the ice cream part. A small glass lemon juice, which was part of the buffet was very good. Ordered a glass of it separately as it was limited :O

Staff were polite & patient and friendly. Service was flawless. Paid 2000 bucks in total for 2 buffet (Rs.699 plus taxes each), mamsam pulao (Rs.399) & 2 lime sodas (Rs.138). Given the taste and quantity, it was absolutely worth the money.

Day - 1 / Meal - 2 / Lunch - Hyderabad Food Trip