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Hyderabadi cuisine

Hyderabadi cuisine (native:Hyderabadi Ghizaayat) also known as Deccani cuisine of India, was developed after the foundation of Qutb shahi dynasty by Sultan Quli, promoting the native cuisine along with their own. Hyderabadi cuisine had become a princely legacy of the Nizams of Hyderabad State. It is an amalgamation of Mughlai, Turkish and Arabic along with the influence of the native Telugu and Marathwada cuisines. Hyderabadi cuisine comprises a broad repertoire of rice, wheat and meat dishes and the skilled use of various spices, herbs and natural edibles.[1]:3[2]:14

Hyderabadi cuisine could be found in the kitchens of the former Hyderabad State that includes Telangana, Marathwada region (now in Maharashtra), and Hyderabad Karanataka region (now in Karnataka). The cuisine also contains city-specific specialities like Hyderabad (Hyderabadi biryani) and Aurangabad (Naan Qalia), Parbhani (Tahari), and Bidar(Kalyani Biryani).

The cuisine emphasises the use of ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree and time. Utmost attention is given to picking the right kind of spices, meat, and rice. Therefore, an addition of a certain herb, spice, condiment, or a combination of these adds a distinct taste and aroma. The key flavours are of coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds which are extensively used in many dishes. The key difference from the North Indian cuisine is the use of dry coconut and tamarind in its cuisine.

Traditional utensils made of copper, brass, and earthen pots are used for cooking. All types of cooking involve the direct use of fire. There is a saying in Hyderabad, cooking patiently (ithmenaan se) is the key; slow-cooking is the hallmark of Hyderabadi cuisine. The Slow-cooking method has its influence from the Dum Pukht method used in Awadhi cuisine.

Hyderabadi Cuisine has different recipes for different events, and hence is categorized accordingly, like banquet food, for weddings and parties, festival foods and travel foods. The category to which the recipe belongs itself speaks of different things like the time required to prepare the food, the shelf life of the prepared item, etc.[3]

Mehboob Alam Khan is a foremost expert on the Hyderabadi cuisine.[4]


Hyderabadi cuisine has evolved over centuries from foreign and native influences. The cuisine began to form during the medieval times and was reached to extend during modern period through the work of skilled chefs serving the Deccan nobility. The city of Hyderabad being the seat of former rulers was the center of many innovative techniques led by royal chefs (known as Khansamas) that eventually gave form to modern Hyderabadi cuisine.

Medieval period

The Deccan region is an inland area in India. The native cuisine was prominent until the Vijayanagara Empire lasted, it was during the rule of Delhi Sultanate, Muhammad bin Tughluq when he shifted the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, the Deccan region adopted the foreign cuisines. In the 14th century when the Bahmani Sultanate was formed by revolting against the Delhi Sultanate in Deccan, the Turkish noblemen were appointed in the high positions, and introduced the Turkish cuisine.

The two-centuries-long political instability in the region of the Deccan and the main Central Mughal authority and migration has introduced Deccan with multiple foreign cuisines.[5]:91–92[6]:31

In Deccan medieval cuisine, banquets were common among the aristocracy. Multiple courses would be prepared and served in a style called Dastarkhān (A long cloth laid on floor on which food dishes and dinners plates are placed). Food was generally eaten by hand, served on among commons and nobility. The food was mostly meat oriented being grilled and fried in tandoor. The curry were highly seasoned and flavored by using spices. Fruits were preferred rather than dessert after main course. Once the meals are ended Kahwa (liquid hot drink) was consumed that contains ingredients to digest food. The ingredients of the cuisine varied greatly according to the seasons and festivals, and many items were preserved in the form of Pickles.[5]:91–92[6]:31[7]

Modern period

The modern cuisine was evolved during the Nizams in the mid-17th century, and elevated to a sublime art form. Hyderabad has a history of continuous influx of migrants from all over the world and in general from the Indian sub-continent, particularly since 1857. Most of the foreign food had been improved to suit the culinary preferences, resulting to form the unique derivative cuisine that excels over the original. Biryani (Turkish) and Haleem (Arabic) for instance is prepared all over India, but the Hyderabadi variety is ultimately form the Hyderabadi Biryani and Hyderabadi Haleem. Til ke chatuni with Arabic tahini, Persian dried lamb with beans is modified with dalcha, tanduri naan of uzbek (central Asia) to create Sheermal. Most of the modern day desserts in Hyderabadi cuisine were introduced and invented during the times of Nizams, today that had become an integral part of cuisine.[6]:31[7]

Hyderabadi cuisine is an integral part of the cuisines of the former Hyderabad State that includes the state of Telangana and the regions of Marathwada (now in Maharashtra) and Hyderabad-Karanataka (now in Karnataka). The Hyderabadi cuisine contains city specific specialties like Hyderabad (Hyderabadi biryani and Hyderabadi Haleem) and Aurangabad (Naan Qalia), Parbhani (Tahari), Bidar (Kalyani Biryani) and others. The use of dry coconut, tamarind, and red chillies along with other spices are the main ingredients that make Hyderabadi cuisine different from the North Indian cuisine.[6]:31[7]

In the past, the food was called Ghizaayat. The cuisine is linked to the nobles, who religiously maintain the authenticity of the past, and the recipes are a closely guarded secret. The royal cooks are known as Khansamas, highly regarded by the nobles. Shahi Dastarkhan is the dining place, where food is served and eaten. A chowki is a low table, instead of a dining table and cotton mattresses for squatting and bolsters for the back rest. The Dastarkhan is revered in the noble household.


Hyderabadi cuisine is basically a meat and rice oriented cuisine, it contains a variety of ingredients that are commonly used, ranging from vegetables, spices, meats, flavors, fruits and others. In the city of Hyderabad and its urban, use of flavors, tomato and tamarind are the most common ingredients. Meat (such as mutton and chicken) dishes are prepared by the technique of dum—(sealing the dish with dough and gently simmering its ingredients over a slow fire, to increasing the absorption of aromatic spices.).

The herbs and spices used in the dish as well as the method of preparation gives the dish its name. For example, Murgh do Pyaaza is named so because Onion ('Pyaaz') is added to the dish twice, in different variations.

Often for formal occasions, the food is garnished with warq (a very fine, pure silver leaf created by prolonged hammering and flattening of a small piece of silver).


Main Article: Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabadi Biryani is Hyderabad's most famous meat-and-rice dish; the Nizams served some 26 varieties of biryanis for their guests. An authentic Hyderabad meal invariably includes a mutton biryani. Hyderabadi Biryanis incorporating chicken, lamb, beef or vegetables instead of mutton are also popular.


  • Hyderabadi Biryani - a traditional celebration meal of lamb and rice.
  • Kachche- gosht ki biriyani - raw meat is stir fried with spices(masalas) for couple of minutes and then covered with rice and put in the Dum Pukht (slow oven).
  • Hyderabad Zafrani Biryani - Saffron is soaked and mixed with the rice at the time it is put in the Dum Pukht.
  • Kheeme ki khichidi- Kheema is marinated in yogurt, green chilli paste, spices for a couple of hours and cooked. Then cooked on slow flames with layers of rice and kheema mixture alternating.

Side Dishes

Hyderabadi haleem

Main Article: Hyderabadi Haleem

Haleem is a seasonal delicacy of wheat, meat and cooked for hours to a porridge-like paste. This traditional wheat porridge has its roots in Arabia, known as harees.

Haleem is a seasonal dish which is made during Ramzan (Ramadan).

The high calorie haleem is an ideal way to break the ramzan fast. Haleem means patience, because it takes long hours to prepare (often a whole day) and served in the evenings.

It is a popular starter at Hyderabadi Muslims weddings.

Curries and starters



File:Chota Samosa.jpg
Chota Samosa - a crispy, onion-filled variant
  • Lukhmi A typical Hyderabadi starter and the snack's original and authentic preparation is stuffed with mutton-mince (kheema). "Kheemey ki Lukhmi" is still served as a starter in the authentic Hyderabadi course of meal at weddings, parties, etc.
  • Dil khush - A triangular pie, which is bread stuffed with cake leftovers
  • Dil pasand
  • Chota Samosa - A crispy, onion-filled small samosa.
  • Osmania Biscuit - A nice, soft tea biscuit, gets its name after last ruler of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan.
  • Fine Buiscuit - A multi-layered, oval shaped and sprinkled with sugar.
  • Tea Biscuit - A multi - layered, oval shaped and sprinkled with sugar
  • Tie Biscuit- A multi-layered biscuit shaped like a bow tie

warqi samosa- layered puff pastrie


  1. ^ Kapoor, Sanjeev (2008). Royal Hyderabadi Cooking. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-7991-373-4. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Leonard, Karen Isaksen (2007). Locating home: India's Hyderabadis abroad. stanford university press. ISBN 978-0-8047-5442-2. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "'Most Hyderabadi cuisine is dying' - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  4. ^ Borah, Prabalika M (30 September 2010). "Nawab of good times". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  5. ^ a b Collingham, Lizzie (2006). Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199883813. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d Chapman, Pat (2009). India food and cooking: the ultimate book on Indian cuisine. New Holland Publishers. ISBN 9781845376192. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Shahid, Sajjad (16 August 2011). "Biryani, Haleem & more on Hyderabad's menu". Times of India. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 

Further reading

External links

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