Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The little joys in Hyderabad - 2

So part 2 of the Hyderabad diaries is here.

Beyond Coffee: Beyond Coffee is a nice, cozy cafe in the Jubilee Hills are, just before the road to Hitech City. It has an open air seating area amidst grass and a tiled shaded area, usually where those who huff and puff sit, and an indoor section as well. All I'd heard about this place was the the New York cheesecake was simply divine, and so that's all I'd set my sights (and taste buds) on. And true to the reputation, the cheesecake came up a winner. Easily the best I've had my whole life (hands down, by miles).



Shadab: Shadab is an old hotel in the old city part of Hyderabad. Although most people say that the biryani at places like Paradise and Bawarchi are the main show piece in Hyderabad, the real stuff is to be had in the old city area. And so I braved the heat, and walked a total of 3.5 km in the blazing sun (after visiting Salar Jung museum and the Char Minar), and even though my feet (see photo below) did look like a piece of barbecued meat at the end, the biryani and the falooda at Shadab was worth the walk. Totally. I kid you not. And until then I didn't even like faloodas, but since Ms Quiche told me the faloodas here were a specialty, I stood up, did a jig to shuffle my stomach contents (by then filled with a full bowl of the special mutton biryani, meant for two people) and make room for the falooda, and downed the thing. I was good to walk another 10 km if needed (as it turned out I had to walk another 2.5 km before I got an auto as none of the autos in the area were willing to come to where I had to go to).



Heard of sun-dried tomatoes? How 'bout sun-burnt feet?


Some random shots of gelato:






















Once upon a time: This is one of the restaurants at the Green Park hotel where I was staying. Essentially they serve Indian food, with a smattering of Chinese as well. We had ordered some snacks from the bar menu - garlic grilled prawns, chicken wings and egg pakodas. The prawns were straight out of the freezer where they'd been chilling for a month or so - rubbery to the point where they could've been used to patch the puncture in your car tyre. The wings we magically transformed into drums of heaven (see photo), and yet the waiter insisted that these were indeed chicken wings. "Drums of heaven will be having more yellow colour, Sir". Somehow, adding a 'Sir' at the end seemed to add authority and authenticity to what he said. I wasn't in a mood to argue anymore; anyone who's eaten out more than once would've schooled him about the faux pas. The saving grace was the rogan josh, which was nice and tender. Thank goodness for that, for I'd imagined him bringing me lamb chops or something, trying to pass it off as rogan josh by telling me "chops will be having no gravy, Sir". Can't leave out the 'Sir'.

Garlic grilled prawns

Drums of heaven, which the waiter insisted were chicken wings

Egg pakodas

Rogan josh


Kibbeh: Kibbeh is an Arab dish, somewhat like a kabab, but comprising of broken wheat mixed with minced meat and fried. One of the many forms of kibbeh are croquettes. Kibbeh, here, happens to be a Lebanese lounge bar in Hyderabad. I visited Kibbeh on the night when RCB were playing the Rajasthan Royals in their own backyard (Warne's last home game) and immediately settled in with Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and a mug of beer. And to keep my taste buds happy, I ordered a meat sambousek, a Lebanese dish from which we get the word (and the dish) samosa. Sambousek is essentially the same (shapes vary depending on the stuffing), and it came with a feta dip. The sambousek was nice, and although 4 (or 5? don't remember now) pieces were quite filling, I wasn't going to stop at just one dish.

Sambousek

So after the second beer, I decided to go for a very common (boring?) Turkish dish - the chicken shish taouk, which is essentially chicken grilled on skewer (shish = skewer, taouk = chicken). The chicken was soft and succulent, and was nicely flavoured with garlic and yogurt. This came with two dips - feta and hummus. Feta, ok, I can understand, but why hummus? Anyway, I didn't care. RCB were knocking the stuffings outta the Rajasthan team and I was enjoying some nice food.

Chicken shish taouk


Thai Express: On my last night in Hyderabad, I visited Thai Express, a lovely joint in the Banjara Hills area (Road Number 2 I think) that, needless to say, serves Thai food. Although I went here twice, I ended up eating the same things both times because these were recommended by a Ms Quiche, and when you're alone, there's only so much you can eat. And since I love a good Tom kha ga soup, that's what I started off with. The combination of coconut milk, galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and some spices can get me to just about do anything you like. What can I say, I'm a self confessed Tom kha-holic, this was as good a Tom kha as I've had before.


Next, I decided to have the Thai meat pancakes, delicates pancakes stuffed with mince meat. This came with a sweet-ish sauce filled with chilli flakes. The combination of the sweet and chilli along with the texture and the taste of the pancake is hard to describe, but rest assured it was quite terrific. Damn! Bangalore sure needs a good Thai joint, and fast! Too bad Shiok closed down, coz that was the only good Thai place in the city. Any future restaurateurs, if you're planning to open a restaurant, there's a huuuuuggeeee market for Thai food in Bangalore, so please go Thai. And my frustration was compounded while writing this because I realised the snap I'd taken wasn't the best, as the lighting inside (at night) isn't very camera-minus-flash friendly.

And finally, the last dish I had was another hot favourite at Thai Express - the soft shelled crab. Except, I didn't have it at the restaurant as it was late and I had to get back to the hotel I was staying at (no vehicle you see, was at the mercy of the local auto drivers). So I had it parceled and had it back at the hotel room. And it was yummy. Served with a multitude of sauces, ranging from the sour of soy to the heat from chilli, the sauces only enhance the taste of a wonderfully done dish.

Soft-shelled crab


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