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The Taste of Hyderabad

Foodcrafters, the founders of the massive seasonal food court Zaiqa-e-Ramzan and Pradeep Khosla, the name synonymous with Hyderabadi cuisine, former Executive Chef at Taj Krishna, who is now the Corporate Chef and CEO, together conceptualised a Hyderabadi specialty restaurant, Zaiqa-e-Hyderabad on Road No 3, Banjara Hills

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Gone are the days when an enquiry for a good Hyderabadi specialty restaurant would elicit a standard response – sirf Hyderabadi Muslim gharon mein ya shaadi mein; and you would be left to wonder which friend of yours is getting married in the near future so that you can land up at the wedding and hog all the Hyderabadi khaana you want to. And except at few restaurants, you would hardly find haleem unless its the month of Ramzan. Paya/ Pathar ka Ghost – you will have to go all the way to the old city.

In recent times, there have been a couple of restaurants that have opened with a promise to serve authentic Hyderabadi food. Foodcrafters, the founders of the massive seasonal food court Zaiqa-e-Ramzan and Pradeep Khosla, the name synonymous with Hyderabadi cuisine, former Executive Chef at Taj Krishna, who is now the Corporate Chef and CEO, together conceptualised a Hyderabadi specialty restaurant, Zaiqa-e-Hyderabad on Road No 3, Banjara Hills. And if the increasing popularity of the outlet in just a few days of opening is anything to go by, they found the right way into a Hyderabadi’s heart.

An old clock on one wall, a Nizami jharokha on the other accosted by framed old pictures of Hyderabad, the lamp shades, the ceramic plates, Kalamkari design for the roof – the old world charm mixes well the contemporary set up at Zaiqa-e-Hyderabad.

From providing the glimpses of the historic Nizami city in the decor to conjuring up a menu that is a perfect balance between popular and signature dishes of the cuisine, many of which are not such a common occurrence in fine dining restaurants – Chef Pradeep Khosla has personally supervised each aspect of the outlet.

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How can you define a good biryani? Well, it is that dish, which extracts a nod of approval and a murmur of satisfaction with each spoonful from a true blue-blooded Hyderabadi. And Zaiqa e Hyderabad gets it right – not overtly spicy or too bland, rice long and not too over cooked, the meat perfectly tender soaking in the flavours to perfection. There are four variants on the menu – Kacchi Yakhni biryani – the original lamb version, chicken dum biryani, subz biryani for the vegetarians and the Anda biryani. The simple raitha and the must have side dish to a biryani – the mirchi ka salan too are amazingly delicious here.

 

Hyderabadi cuisine is primarily Mughal cuisine that has imbibed the local flavours. So you have the kebabs that are common in name, but have those sometimes distinct and at other times minute Hyderabadi influences – the melt-in-the-mouth Shikampuri filled with onion, yoghurt and green chillies, the smoky Sona Zafrani tikka (chicken pieces marinated in saffron and slowcooked over charcoal) and  Murgh Malai kebab are must try on the starter menu. There is also the uniquely Hyderabadi invention of tender chicken pieces tossed in curry leaves and select spices – Chicken 65.

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One should surely mention the haleem that is served with huge chunks of tender mutton pieces in it and topped with ghee and cashews that looks as delicious as it tastes; and the spicy marag, a primarily home preparation that has gained entry into the menu.

On the main course too are some dishes that are usually found only in traditional Muslim kitchens like the Mutton do pyaza, Kheema matar and Dal Tadka. Chef brings back the taste of royalty with rich and flavourful dishes like Asafjahi ghost korma and Lagan ke Murgh – the traditional dishes that get a touch of western influence, especially created to please the guests of the Nizam – make a comeback on Chef Khosla’s Zaiqa menu. There are also the likes of Bagara Baingan and Dum ka Paneer for the vegetarians.

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On the desserts are the predictable, yet unmissable Qubani ka meeta, Double ka meetha, and also the Gajar ka rishta (made of grated carrots using nuts, saffron and pure ghee) and the soft and creamy Badam ka kund.

While the Zaiqa-e-Hyderabad menu takes care of the popular Hyderabadi preparations; every week there is a special menu available on alacarte. Through this menu, one discovers a cuisine that is popular, no doubt, but is showcased only thorough a handful of dishes, while the others lay in oblivion to most food lovers.

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Talawa ghost, Aloo nazakat, Hare masale ka murgh khorma, Nawabi turai methi, Bagaare khatte aloo – chef has many other delicacies up his sleeve that would be featured on a special weekly menu. So, here’s to many more visits to devour the Hyderabadi food.

A part of the article was first published in The Hans India

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