A friend who gave us a memorable food tour of Bhopal some years ago called up recently to recommend an authentic Hyderabadi biryani place that had won his heart. Hyderabadi biryani are two words that are dear to me, too. This meat-and-rice dish has been an old favourite of mine ever since I had my first spoonful of it several decades ago.
The dish, I was told, would come from an outfit called The Hyderabad House, run by a mother-and-daughter duo originally from Hyderabad and settled in Delhi. They, and other family members, are seeking to expand the business, which is now in a nascent stage. They make a few special Hyderabadi signature dishes and hope to add to the menu in the near future.
The Chicken Biryani came in a sealed handi, and the aroma of meat and rice wafted up in the air the moment I removed the sticky dough that it had been sealed with. It was, indeed, delicious.
The rice, boiled with shah zeera and cinnamon, had been cooked with the meat in ghee, and then flavoured with garam masala and saffron. And, of course, it had been topped with fried onions.
The rice was lightly fried and not overly spiced, and that is what appealed to me. Increasingly, I find myself enjoying the lighter versions of biryanis rather than the spice-heavy, often pickle-flavoured ones. And, of course, adding a boiled egg to a plate of Hyderabadi biryani enhances the eating pleasure.
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The mother and daughter — Shabnam Begum and Rumisa Farooqi Baig — also cook a mean bhagaira baigan ka salan. I was struck by the softness of the eggplant and the spiciness of the thick gravy. The dish had been flavoured with peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut. It was deliciously tart, and I had it with some plain rice and thought it would have gone well with a roti, too. I did not have their Hyderabadi dal but I am told it is tempered with curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds and cumin seeds.
The desserts consist of Double ka meetha and sevaiyan. I was happy to see that neither of the dishes was swimming in oil. With a spoonful in, I felt it was the best way to end a meal! The double ka meetha was spongy and the sweet quotient was just right: nor too much, nor too little. The sevaiyan, known as muzaffar, was light and tasty.
The outfit right now delivers across Delhi NCR. “Our food is fresh and authentic. You get the taste of dum-cooked biryani which one will find only in the houses of Hyderabad,” the chefs said in a message.
The rates are also quite competitive. For ₹ 850, you get all these dishes that can serve up to three people. Orders have to be placed a day in advance (Ph no: 9971334216; https://www.flowcode.com/page/thehyderabadhouse).
My food hamper came with a picture postcard and a message from Chef Rumisa. “Food should reach your heart before it reaches your stomach,” it said. And it did.
The writer is a veteran food critic