Ishtaa opens its doors in Hyderabad with eclectic options such as ice cream dosa and totakura liver biryani
Owned by Teja Chekuri and Jaswanth Reddy Mukka, the place is a great if you are craving vegetarian biryani or thali
Familiar home-style flavours are always comforting. So, when we heard that Ishtaa, a vegetarian restaurant opened, we decided to check it out. As we entered the space spread across 8,000 sq ft, we could see that it was decorated with huge wooden frames, fitted with colourful printed saris. The Kathakali masks, used as souvenirs instantly reminded us of a Bapu and Ramana movie setting. After exploring Ishtaa, we placed our order.
First to arrive was the Munakkaya Karivepaaku Soup. The soup was prepared with boiling drumsticks and making a broth out of it. The soup was mildlyflavoured and didn’t have that spice kick that we expected. We then moved on to the Delhiwala Paneer Tikka, which was oozing with flavour each time we took a bite of paneer that was stuffed with a spicy sauce.
What excited us about their appetiser menu was that they had a vegetarian substitute, Idli 65, to the local favourite Chicken 65. Slices of idli were marinated with Indian spices, then deep-fried, and finally cooked with garlic bits, green chillies, and curry leaves. The spicy starter was crispy and the balance of spicy and garlic flavours made this a winner.
Dosa with a twist
The hotel boasts about its dosa menu and we opted for three of their fusion dosa plates. Ice Cream Dosa and Lays Dosa were the first to arrive. The Lays dosa sounded interesting but the flavours weren’t as novel as we expected. The former, which came drizzled with maple syrup and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, stood out from the dishes we sampled.
For the main course, we tasted the Muddapappu Avakaya Neyye Annam. The quintessential comfort food of Andhra and Telangana was prepared with mashed dal, mango pickle mixed with hot steamed rice. Served with a dollop of ghee, this classic never goes wrong and we finished every morsel of it.
Their biryani and pulao menu left us spoilt for choice. The Panasapattu Biryani was cooked with cubes of jackfruit, and seated on a bed of aromatic rice was delicious. Another dish we recommend is their Thotakura Liver Biryani. This was quite different from the kinds of biryani we’ve tried. The leaves were cooked with spices, herbs and mashed together, which gave it a meat-like texture. A must-try for those who enjoy spicy food.
We also tried their South Indian Thali, which was served with an assortment of Andhra and Telangana dishes. Mushroom korma, beetroot fry, sambar, and mango-based dal were a few to name. But what stood out for us was the dessert, halwa. We liked the fact that the halwa was subtly sweet and was topped with pistachio and cashew nuts adding crunch to an otherwise soft-textured mithai.
Rs 800 for two. At Gachibowli.