Ramzan 2022: From bamboo to natu kodi biryani, here are 7 varieties of biryanis that are a rage in Hyderabad
It is the holy month of Ramzan and iftar meals! With biryani being the favourite dish this season, we take a look at a few biryanis gaining popularity in the city
You call it biryani, Hyderabadis call it a way of life. From Andhra to Kolkata and Lucknowi biryani, the city embraces everything that is biryani. Contrary to most beliefs that the land of biryani is impressed with just the Hyderabadi version, the city is a host to most unusual flavours and fusions when it comes to the rice-based dish. This festival season, we picked a few kinds that are gaining popularity in the city. Several city-based chefs chatted with us about the history and cultural impact of the dish. What else? Top food bloggers from the city also offered their insights on their favourite biryanis.
How is a biryani list complete if there is no classic Hyderabadi biryani in it? ITC Kohenur’s Dum Pukht Biryani is an ode to the royal families of Nizams. The recipe was perfected, over four decades ago by the grandmaster chefs of the hotel. The chefs put extensive research to present the city with authentic recipes from the Nizam kitchens. “The ancient tradition of dum-cooking came into existence in the 18th century. During a famine, Nawab Asaf-Ud-Oaulah of Awadh initiated a dish that required large cauldrons filled with rice, meat, vegetables, and spices, all sealed and further slow cooked. This rice-based dish was then served to artisans and builders. This recipe was then refined in a way — fit for royals. This ancient methods of dum cooking is exactly what you can expect in our kitchens,” the master chef of Dum Pukht Begums’, Mohammad Mumtaz shared. He concluded by adding that to make their biryani more majestic, they add saffron and a special masala jokingly called in their kitchen ‘magic masala.’
‘Jack’ of all trades
In several parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, jackfruits have been used as a substitute for meat. Taking inspiration from these age-old recipes, Hyderabad’s first vegan café, Terrassen Cafe has included Jackfruit Dum Biryani on its menu. The fruit in its raw form has a meat-like texture and when dum-cooked with rice and cashew yoghurt (hung curd made with cashew milk), gives the flavours of a meat biryani.
Basmati meets bamboo
Established in 2000, Srikanya is one of those biryani spaces in the city that never disappoints. While the place is famous for its Fried Chicken Biryani, one must talk about a tribal delicacy they offer — bamboo biryani. Originating from the Araku valley, Andhra Pradesh, the local tribals provide a very interesting take on the dish. Long bamboos logs are filled with meat, rice, and spices. Then, the bamboo is slow-cooked on burnt charcoal pieces. During this process, bamboo juice gets released in the rice, and adds an earthy and smoky touch.
Natu kodi love
When one thinks of country chicken, Rayalaseema’s natu kodi pulusu might pop up in one’s mind. Bringing back the age-old recipe to the city, Telangana Spice Kitchen added its own twist to the dish. Instead of serving it with ragi mudda, the kitchen cooks the meat with rice, aromatic spices, and freshly ground garam masala. The Natu Kodi Biryani has a high spice level and hits all the right spots.
Wellness on a platter
How does the idea of replacing long-grain Basmati rice with brown rice in a biryani sound? For the executive chef of The Little Village Cafe — Community, Gidugu Anjani Rahul, this transition was the biggest challenge. “The café is all about healthy and nutritious food. When I was working on their wellness menus, I knew I had to make dum biryani a part of it. How could I not? The city simply cannot do without their biryanis. So I tried and tested a recipe replacing the aromatic Basmati rice. I used brown Basmati rice instead, which is gluten-free and adds a nutty flavour to the plate. Cooking the chicken in olive oil and ghee and topping it with assorted dry fruits, also adds a different texture,” Rahul explained. Currently the restaurant offers four kinds of meat and vegetarian biryanis.
One of the latest entrants to the city’s biryani circuit is the Nalli gosht biryani. The origin of the recipe is not certain, but it reportedly dates back to the Mughal era. But, Krishnapatnam’s executive chef, Shaikh Subhan, revealed to us that it was developed in Maharashtra’s royal kitchens. “The Maharashtrian kings ate spiced roasted lamb shanks regularly. And, one day, the royal cook decided to mix rice with the shanks and that’s how Nalli gosht biryani was created,” Subhan shared. Unlike the regular biryani, this variant is cooked differently. The shanks are cooked like curry and then mixed with steamed rice. “It took us eight months to master this to bring a balance of flavours and textures. Unlike the regular chops, we cut the last portion of meat from the bone to make it more delectable. The slow cooking and addition of ghee makes the dish aromatic and irresistible,” the chef added.
Who moved my kebab?
Often when we think of biryani from the Nizam period, we do not go beyond the dum biryani. But, the kitchens of Nawabs hosted more than just dum-cooked dishes. One of the most popular dishes offered by the Taj Faluknama’s Adaa is their Ameer Khwani Biryani — made with two different kinds of lamb — cooked lamb and seekh kebabs. The executive chef of the palace, Sajesh Nair informed us that it took over 12 years to perfect this recipe. “We use only natural spices to bring out the authentic flavours. We use Hyderabadi potli masala, which is a blend of spices, along with kevra water, extracted from screw pine or pandanus. A true regal delicacy, from the ancient royal kitchens, Ameer Khwani, has become a favourite for several dignitaries that stayed at the palace,” he revealed.
Ashis Nayak of FoodDrifter perhaps needs no introduction in the city’s food blogger and influencer circuit. Known for his travels across the globe, the columnist’s favourite biryani happens to be kacchi gosht ki biryani. We caught up with Ashis and asked him about a variety that surprised him the most. “I once visited Meatsmith, an American-Indian diner style restaurant in Singapore. Their menu had a Biryani Nigri (the cold rice was replaced with biryani rice). To see this fusion of Indian and Japanese cuisines truly surprised me,” he replied.
HyderabadFoodTrip’s Srushty Ladegaam grew up eating mutton biryani. Over a chat, she told us that biryani is the one dish that brings back childhood memories. “I crave biryani at least once a week. While the classic dum biryani is my favourite, I grab donne biryani (from Bengaluru), and Ambur biryani (from Tamil Nadu), if I find them in a restaurant,” she said.
For Vasanthi, the face behind Tasty Drips, it is the Hyderabadi dum biryani, which is her absolute favourite. “Sealed and slow-cooked in a handi, there isn’t a dish more flavourful than our dum biryani. But, I also like to indulge in new varieties whenever I find them,” she shared. Besides this, she also loves digging into ulavacharu biryani, avakaya biryani, and chicken 65 biryani, which she says aren’t meant for those who cannot handle spicy food.
Biryani for breakfast?
Do you know that in the year 2021, 115 portions of biryani were sold on Swiggy? We dugdeeper with Swiggy’s internal team and they revealed that Hyderabad’s most ordered dish was chicken dum biryani followed by chicken 65 and paneer butter masala. No surprises there! We also found out that the food aggregator saw an increase in the sales of biryani surprisingly for breakfast and 1 am orders.