My fascination for the city of Hyderabad and Hyderabadi food is a very old one. It started off when I was a little girl, and my cousins, who stayed in the city, would come over, and bring an assortment of strange new goodies and I would learn strange words they would use. They would speak of the biryanis they ate, and the shops they bought pearls from, and open a fascinating world for me. To top it, my uncle would cook mutton, flavoured with spices and mint, and let me watch for hours. On my recent visits, I had a lovely time exploring the food scene of Hyderabad, and that is why, Swissotel’s Indian Restaurant Durbari’s Hyderabadi food festival was a very interesting event for me.
After consuming a portion of the Marag, a runny lamb bone broth flavoured with coriander and mint, an assortment of Kababs were placed before me, and the Arbi Ke Kabab was the vegetarian offer from it, with mashed colcaccia roots the primary ingredient. It was nice, but could not top the rather decadent Tala Murgh, which was the star of the show, with the crispy curry leaf adding a layer of extra flavours. I also liked the Hyderabadi lamb seekh kabab, but felt that the mince could have been finer.
We were served an assortment of chutneys and dips along with some roasted papad, and my favourite was the mint one, and the burnt garlic chutney. The Sheermal was, however, very unlike the stuff I have happily consumed in Lucknow, Hyderabad, Delhi or Kolkata, and lacked the sweetness which I generally associate with the bread.
I was rather happy with the Daalcha, a humble dish of lentils and vegetables, cooked together till everything was tender and mingled together. This is a great example of the way food is supposed to nourish and comfort, and I ended up pairing it with the Tehri that was served as well.
I have a soft spot for Tehri and this version featured potatoes and cauliflower, two vegetables which are very common in making the dish. The rice was tender but not mushy, the vegetables soft but still retaining flavours – and the spices did not overpower the dish at all!
Although I am not a very big fan of methi, the Methi Murg stood out, with its fenugreek-laden creamy gravy, and tender chunks of chicken. I was quite happy to finish my meal here, but then, Chef Pranay, who is excited about the meal and regaled us with tales of his experience of Hyderabadi food declared that no Hyderabadi meal was complete without some Haleem and Biryani, so well, who would want to leave the table after such a declaration?
The Mutton Haleem was rather excellent, a khichra style paste, which was served to us. I missed the fried onions and lemon juice, but the texture of the haleem was spot on, although it was not as spicy as the ones I have had in Hyderabad. However, this was quite nice by itself, and I finished my bowl.
|Hyderabadi Dum Biryani|
The Hyderabadi Dum Biryani was quite nice too, with chunks of meat and rice cooked together in dum for hours. Again, this was much milder than the Hyderabadi Biryani I have tasted, but I think for the people of my city, even this would be too much spice, since our version of the Biryani is much milder. Served with a creamy raita, this was quite filling, and I could see others take second helpings.
|Shahi Tukda (L), Lauki Ka Kher (R)|
We had Lauki ka kheer and Shahi Tukda for dessert, and I found the Lauki Ka Kheer to be really well-made, without being too sweet. The Hyderabadi food festival is on at Durbari for lunch and dinner, between 12:30 to 3:30 pm, and 7:00 to 11:00 pm every day, and the dishes are all available a-la-carte.