The Cuisine of Hyderabad has been influenced by various regional and religious cuisines, both Indian and Foreign, despite which it has been able to create an identity of its own. It has also been able to contribute towards making Indian cuisine popular worldwide. Hyderabad is never complete without the mention of the "Shahi Dastarkhan". The Dastarkhan is the dining place where the food is served and eaten. It is normally a low chowki for the dining table and cotton mattresses for squatting and bolsters for the back rest. The Dastarkhan holds a place of reverence in every household.
What makes the Hyderabadi Cuisine special is the use of special ingredients, carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree. The addition of a certain Herb, Spice, Condiment, or an amalgamation of these adds a unique taste and texture to the dish. The herbs and spices used and the method of preparation gives the dish its name.
The city of Hyderabad also called “the city of the Nizams” has a rich and diverse history. This is due to a blending of various cultures brought about by ruling dynasties that ruled Hyderabad for a great no. of years.
The following are the eras that contribute to the developed cuisine that is emerged from this city:
- The Pre Qutb Shahi Era (1000AD-1450AD)
- The Qutb Shahi Era (1450AD-1700AD)
- The Nizam Era (1700AD-1948AD)
A 400-year history is behind the culinary delights of Hyderabadi food. It evolved in the kitchens of the Nizams, who elevated food to a sublime art form. Hyderabad cuisine is highly influenced by Iranian food.
In the past, the food was called Ghizaayat. The cuisine is linked to the nobles, who religiously maintain the authenticity of the past, and the recepies are a closely-guarded secret. The royal cooks are known as Khansamas and were highly regarded by the nobles. Shahi Dastarkhan is the dining place, where food is served and eaten. A chowki is a low table, instead of a dining table and cotton mattresses for squatting and bolsters for the back rest. The Dastarkhan is revered in the noble household.
Hyderabad is located in central Andhra Pradesh and is spread over an area of 260 square km. The city lies in the Deccan Plateau and rises to an average height of 540 m above the sea level. The original city was founded on the banks of river Musi and has grown over centuries on the both banks of the river. The city lies at 17.366° N latitude and 78.476° E longitude.
The city’s soil type is mainly red sandy with areas of black cotton soil
Deccan Festival is celebrated in Hyderabad on 25th February every year. This festival lasts five days. It reflects the culture of the Deccan and highlights Hyderabad's culture, arts and crafts, and the famous lip smacking Nizami cuisine. Non-veg food features prominently in the festivities
This festival is celebrated to honor the Buddhist Heritage of Andhra Pradesh. The festival is celebrated in Nagarjuna Sagar and Hyderabad for three days from 2nd Friday of December every year. The festival provides an insight into the rich Buddhist heritage. Vegetarian dishes form a major part of the festival.
This harvest festival is celebrated for 3 days in mid January. The community being agrarian in majority acknowledges their gratitude to the animals that help them in their work. They decorate their bulls and conduct fun games like cockfights, bullfights and ram fights.
Moharrum is celebrated with much fervor and joy in Hyderabad, as the state has a significant Muslim population Moharrum, or the sacred month, marks the beginning of the Muslim New Year. Muslims also celebrate Milad-un-Nabi in which numerous people assemble in the holy Mecca Masjid and at Dar-us-Salaam.
This native New Year comes soon after the celebration of 'Holi' in March - April. Spring is considered as the first season of this native New Year of Andhra. Ugadi is a festival celebrated throughout Andhra Pradesh state. The festival marks the New Year for Andhra Pradesh and is celebrated with much splendor and gaiety in Hyderabad.
The day when Lord Ganesha or Vinayak was born is celebrated as Vinayak Chaturthi. The festival is celebrated with pious devotion and passion throughout the country. Vegetaria food is mainly consumed during the festival period.
The 'festival of lights' known as Diwali or Deepawali is celebrated all through the country with much passion and zest. People in Hyderabad worship the lord along with the Goddess of wealth Lakshmi. The most enthusiastic are the children who wait for the festival to explode crackers and decorate their houses with colorful festoons and streamers
1. Heated stone slab (Pathaar)
This was used in the making of kebabs. The stone was heated using live coals
2. Taatee (sigri)
It consists of a metal famework that is heated by coal. The meat pieces are grilled on the framework.
A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. The heat for a tandoor was traditionally generated by a charcoal fire or wood fire, burning within the tandoor itself, thus exposing the food to both live-fire, radiant heat cooking, and hot-air, convection cooking
4. Skewers (saliyans)
The meat was cooked over the flame by either coating the skewers with the meat or by piercing the meat with the skewer.
Hyderabadi cuisine consists of the following courses:
It is the starter course. Dry in nature. It is usually non-vegetarian.
Eg:- Khorme ke kabab, Garlay, Lukhmi
Use of mince is very elaborate in Hyderabadi cuisine. It can be cooked dry or slightly wet. It forms a daily diet in a few Hyderabadi homes.
Eg:- Dum ke laoz, Dum ka Kheema
3. Khorma, Shorma and Khalia
These are the non-vegetarian curries made of meat. These are the pride of Hyderabadi cusine apart from Biryanis. The curries are distinguished based on colour, flavor and consistencies. Khormas have a light shade of red. Shorvas had a soup like consistency and are bright red in colour. Khalia ranges from dry to thick gravy-like and ranges from dark brown to dark green in colour.
Eg:- Bhindi ka shorva, Amras ki boti, Dumpokht ka khorma, Nehari, Bhuna gosht and haleem.
4. Murgh aur ande
These are the chicken curry preparations. Chicken was not very popular in old Hyderabad. Mutton was the favourite meat.
Eg:- Achar murgh, murgh malai khorma, Murgh methi
5. Macchi aur jhinge
As Old Hyderabad was not near the coastline, Hyderabadi cuisine has very limited fish preparations.
Eg:- Zamin ki macchi
6. Pulao aur biryani
Biryanis and pulaos are considered Hyderabadi cuisines greatest contribution to the culinary world. Some are delicate in taste, some intoxicatingly aromatic, some flavoured with saffron, some flavoured with cream and others with rose water or screwpine flower water.
Eg:- Dumpokht biryani, guddu pulao, biryani, zarda pulao, Kheema bhare saalim murgh ka pulao.
7. Chaval ke tarkeeb
Rice and meat constituted the staple diet of many Hyderabadis. In earlier times, the Indian ate a full meal in the morning before leaving for work. Lunch was non-existent and the next full meal was dinner.
Eg:- Qabooli, Tahiri.
In earlier times, vegetarian food was taken occasionally such as unavoidable occasions out of compulsion. As such, many years went into creating vegetarian food that was not only palatable, but interesting and even compelling.
Eg:- Mirchi ka saalan, Dum ke boote, Churan ke karele, Baghare baingan.
Hyderabad has an exciting array of dals.
Eg:- Dalcha, Khatti dal
10. Meetha aur sharbat
Sweet does not form part of the daily meal and is prominently eaten at weddings and other special occasions. Hyderabadi cuisine does not have a vast collection of sweets.
Eg:- Khubani ka meetha, Falsa ka sharbat, Nimish, Kairi ka abshola. Gille Firdaus, Double ka meetha