Hyderabad Cuisine

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Hyderabadi cuisine, a blend of Persian and Mughlai influence, is considered to be a legacy from the Asaf Jash dynasty leaders, the Nizrams, who elevated food preparation and cooking into what many considers to be a sublime art form. Much of Hyderabadi Cuisine is also influenced by Telugu food where rice and spices are primarily used, often to great effects. Coupled with the distinct Persian influence, Hyderabadi cuisine is decidedly spicy, so people who are adverse to a little spice in their food should probably look somewhere else. Those who do, however, will miss out on something that is truly unique; Hyderabadi cuisine has been shaped by 400 years of Hyderabadi culture and tradition. It employs the use of special and unique ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the correct degree. Herbs, condiments, and spices are also added that gives a distinct texture and flavor to the dish. Hyderabadi cuisine is slowly cooked and involves the direct use of fire. It is the method of preparation as well as the spices that are used that give the dishes their names.

Aside from the exotic spices, there is also liberal use of what is called ghee, especially in Hyderabadi (and, subsequently, Indian) sweets. It is a class of butter that originates mainly from the Indian region, and is of marked importance to Middle Eastern as well as South Asian cuisine. It is prepared by simmering unsalted butter in a large pot until all the water has been boiled off, and the protein has settled at the bottom. It is then spooned off so that the milk solids found in the bottom of the pan will not be disturbed. The texture and taste, as well as the color will depend on the kind of butter that was used to make it. Ghee also found uses outside the culinary world, specifically in religious rituals and ayurvedic medicine.

Hyderabadi cuisine also uses fresh fruits instead of dried fruits. Lamb is the most widely used meat, although chicken, once considered sacrilegious by the gosht-eating population, is also becoming accepted when the broiler was introduced. It should be noted, though, that in Hyderabad, it is the hen that is considered a delicacy, and not the rooster.

To get a real taste of Hyderabadi cuisine though, one should try the Hyderabad Biryani, commonly regarded as Hyderabad’s iconic dish. It is traditionally made using meat and rice and it is a staple in Hyderabadi cuisine. The ingredients include basmati rice, meat, lemon, and saffron, with coriander and onion as garnish. Hyderabadi biryani uses goat meat instead of the traditional mutton. There are two ways of preparing Hyderabadi biryani: kachchi, which uses raw meat, and pakki, which involves cooking the meat before layering it with rice. There is also a vegetarian version of the biryani that uses carrots, potato and peas.

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