Several of these fantastic and quite refreshing recipes got lost or evolved, and today only a handful of families prepare them.
Whoever said that Hyderabad cuisine revolved only around the quintessential biryani was clearly wrong. A walk down the gallis of the Old City, sometimes early in the morning, or a visit to some of the old Muslim families in the city will clear that misconception. Whether it is the paya that bubbles over a pot endlessly, where the mutton is so soft that the meat falls off the bone, or the slow-cooked stew, nihari. Hyderabadi cuisine is rich, strong and dates back to centuries.
The sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, was known for a lot of things, but what made him really popular was his love for food. “He loved his food, there was no doubt about that. In fact, his cooks would come up with some very interesting recipes to please him and he would reward them handsomely,” explains food consultant Mumtaz Khan.
The Nizam had a very refined palate, having travelled extensively around the world, he made sure that his food had the best flavours from across the world. Just how rich was his food you ask? “Well, there were a variety of tadkas that went into his food, but the richest of all was a gold coin. Yes, you read that right, to impress the Nizam, his cooks even added a gold coin in the tadka, once it was done, the coin would be taken off,” adds Mumtaz.
Across the world, there are people who are divided on the taste of orange in their food, orange and chocolate some believe go well, and for others it’s quite a nightmare, but the Nizam swore by the taste of orange. “He loved it so much, that he even ordered his cooks to prepare a narangi kheema (orange kheema). He was like that, always loved to experiment with his food and some of it paid off,” explains Mumtaz.
After his passing, it was his grandson who carried the culinary legacy forward. “The son of the seventh Nizam, Azam Jah, was another ruler who was fond of food. One of his favourites was the kheema made specially for him that was so rich, it had eggs and even dal in it,” she shares.
Over the years, several of these fantastic and quite refreshing recipes got lost or evolved, and today only a handful of families prepare them. Here’s a list of some flavours that will make old Hyderabad come alive in your kitchen.
Boil the chana dal with a pinch of turmeric till it is very soft. Mash well. In a thick-bottomed pan, pour ghee and the mashed chana dal and cook, stirring well till it turns brown.
Add sugar and cook for a couple of minutes. Add khoya, saffron, powdered cardamoms, ground almonds and yellow colour and cook for some time. Cool and use for puran puri. This halwa can also be eaten as a dessert.
For the dum ki puran puri: Knead the flour with salt and a tbsp of ghee into a soft dough and set aside for half an hour. Roll out into thin chappatis and roast lightly on a tawa. In a flat baking tin spread a little ghee and a chappati. Mix the halwa with milk and spread a little on the chappati. Sprinkle with sliced nuts and some ghee. Put another chappati and spread in the same manner. The top layer should be halwa, nuts and ghee. Bake in a moderate oven for 15 to 20 minutes till set and lightly brown on top.
Grind the cashew nuts. Mix all the ingredients and cook on a slow heat in a thick-bottomed pan till the sugar dissolves. Cook on high heat till it reaches a setting stage. Spread on a greased flat bottomed dish and leave to set. Before it sets completely make diamond shaped markings, when set, cut and serve.
For halwa: Cook until mixture thickens. Serve garnished with chopped almonds and pistachios.
Note: Cover hands with a thick towel while stirring the halwa to avoid blisters from the splatter.
Ande le lauz
Recipe courtesy:Asra Anjum Hussain
Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, then add khoya, desi ghee and saffron. Beat until all the ingredients blend. Pour the batter in a baking pan and let it stand for half an hour before baking. Cut the almonds into thin pieces and garnish them on top of the batter and allow it to bake at 180°C for 45 minutes to an hour, until they are perfectly cooked from the inside. Serve hot or cold.
Wash the rice and soak in water for five minutes. Drain water and lightly fry the rice in ghee. Add a cup of water, cover and cook till water is absorbed and rice is soft. Coarsely grind the almonds in a blender, add cooked rice and mash lightly. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash well. Serve garnished with sliced nuts and saffron.