This tale is about two bakeries, and my failure to take any pictures inside the damn places. However, the moment I landed in Hyderabad, the first thing I did was to go to the nearest outlet of Karachi Bakery (in my case the bakery was smack dab in the airport. And bought a packet of fruit biscuits for immediate consumption, and another packet to take home with me. In the subsequent hour, I started work on my computer, and sneakily chomped on the slightly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits. In one hour, my box of 400 gm. biscuit was finished, and the bus was waiting for me to take me to Secundrabad, where I stayed for the rest of my trip.

For those who are yet unawakened, Karachi Bakery is pretty famous for their biscuits, especially their fruit biscuits. I also tried their cashew, pistachio, chocolate, and a few other variants in the subsequent days, and bought back about 15 packets of biscuits to distribute among friends and family member. However, to my utter dismay, 12 of those packages were inhaled, literally, between my mother and father, who sneakily opened pack after pack and ate the contents with gusto. When confronted, they called the biscuit makers conspirators. Here is an excerpt of what my mother said. I quote from a status I put up on Facebook, right after it happened.

Ma: Its a conspiracy, I tell you.
Me: What conspiracy?
Ma: Those fruit biscuits you got from Karachi Bakery. They deliberately made a package which you cannot finish in one go, and cannot put down. So you eat 2/3rds of a packet at one go, then an hour later, you see yourself finish the entire pack and open another one.
Me: That’s your excuse for eating three packets in a day? 
Ma: It’s the only one that works for now.

While Karachi Bakery is sleek, packaged, and extremely chic in many ways, Alpha Hotel, with its modest surroundings and bustle is a different kettle of fish altogether. But I fell in love here too! Located right beside the Secundrabad railway station, I discovered this place while I was on my way to drop my mother off so she would catch Falaknama Express. Since there was a 30-minute wait for me before I could get back (I  put her on the train at 3.30 pm and the train would leave at 4.00 pm) I decided to eat something from the bakery. I was hungry. And Alpha Hotel had a lovely bakery.

So I entered and ordered a pulpy grape juice (30/-) and it came to me cold, very thick, pulpy, tart, sweet and in one word – incredible. I drank it down quickly, while I looked around inside. Although Alpha is known for its Kheema Roti, I was more inclined towards the baked goods because I saw some fascinating things I have never seen in other cities. At Alpha, you would see the influence of the Mughal style of cooking influencing the baked goods, and an abundance of coconut and tutti frutti in most of their baked goods and confectionary recipes. As I stood there, a man took round paratha-like discs from one side, cut them up in six pieces and arranged them carefully. I learned that this thing was called Dilkhusha. Priced at probably 5/-, I decided to take a slice.

I bit into it. I tasted a crisp, flaky, slightly salty paratha on the outside, and inside, there was a warm mash of pineapples, coconut and sugar. It was sweet inside, with the salty crust making everything perfectly fine inside my mouth. I was completely taken by the way it tasted and smelled, and decided to try other things from the bakery.

Subsequently, I did order the light jam roll slice (probably 6/-), which was covered with a thin layer of finely desiccated and toasted coconut on top, and was mildly sweet, and a half mawa roll (8/-), which was a half of yeasty bread filled with mawa inside. Mawa is an Indian milk cheese made by cooking down milk till its very thick. In this case, the mawa was mixed with cocoa and tutti frutti, making a soft, sweet filling perfect for the roll. My total bill here came to 19/- (yes, well!) and I left Alpha fully satisfied.

Written by Poorna Banerjee

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