Regional Indian Cuisine.
India is a vast land of many different cultures, religions and beliefs and is depicted through art, food and entertainment. India is made up of 28 states. There are 22 different officially spoken languages in India along with thousands of local dialects. One can travel from village to village and find different languages being spoken, styles of clothing being worn, and of course many varieties of food. Historically, has many distinct and unique dishes highlighted by its region or origin. The menu at Masala Art reflects many regions of India. Let’s take a journey through Hyderabad and how its cuisine was founded and presented in modern day Indian Restaurants.
Hyderabadi Indian Cuisine.
Hyderabadi Cuisine is one of the most unique ways of preparing Indian foods. To prepare it, one must study the art of blending spices carefully, as each spice has a purpose, aroma and flavor profile that is specific to the type of dish being prepared. The timing in which the spice is introduced and length of time they are simmered for, are equally important. Timing is everything in Hyderabadi cooking and typically, one needs a lot of it. The key word when referencing Hyderabadi cooking is “slow.”
History of Hyderbadi Cuisine
Hyderabadi Cuisine was developed after the foundation of Qutb Shahi dynasty by Sultan Quli. Hyderabadi cuisine had become a royal legacy of the Nizams of Hyderabad State. Its eclectic style is reminiscent of Mughlai, Turkish and Arabic with a heavy influence of the native Telugu and Maharashtra Cuisines. Hyderabadi cuisine comprises of a broad collection of rice, wheat and meat dishes along with the skilled use of various spices and herbs.
The cuisine emphasizes on the use of ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the right temperature and time. Utmost attention is given to picking the right kind of spices, meat, and rice, thereby producing a distinct taste and aroma. The key flavors are of tamarind, coconut, cardamom, saffron and cloves, which are extensively used in many dishes. The key difference from the North Indian cuisine is the presence of dried coconut and tamarind in its cuisine.
Method of Cooking
Traditional utensils made of copper, brass, and earthen or clay pots are used for Hyderabadi cooking and involve the direct use of fire. There is a saying in Hyderabad, cooking patiently or “ithmenaan se” is the key; slow-cooking is the hallmark of Hyderabadi cuisine. The slow and sealed method of cooking is called the “Dum Pukht” method. Hyderbadi dishes are prepared in large copper pot called a handi, covered with a thin bread seal to maintain the aroma of the spices and tenderness of the meat or vegetables being prepared. Masala Art has adapted many of these cooking methods and enhanced them to match its modern day restaurant setting, which keeping the tradition and authenticity of the food.
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 Maharajas, was the center of many innovative techniques led by Khansamas, royal chefs, that eventually gave form to modern Hyderabadi cuisine.
The modern cuisine was evolved during the Nizams in the mid-17th century, and elevated to a inspiring art form. Hyderabad had a history of constant influx of migrants from all over the world and in general from the Indian sub-continent, particularly since the 1850’s. Most of the foreign food had been enhanced 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 Hyderabad has its own exceptional variety.
Popular Hyderabadi Preparations
The herbs and spices used in the dish as well as the method of preparation gives the dish its name. For example, Murg do Pyaaza is named so because Onion (‘Pyaaz’) is added to the dish twice, in different variations.
Hyderabadi Haleem is a high calorie preparation often prepared specifically to break the Ramadan fast. Haleem means patience, because it takes long hours to prepare (upto an entire day) and served in the evenings.
Hyderabadi Biryani is Hyderabad’s most famous meat-and-rice dish. Just like the many variations in Northern Indian Mughlai dishes, there are at least 25 variations of biryanis. An authentic Hyderabadi meal invariably includes a goat meat biryani which is coincidentally Masala Art’s most popular rice concoction and is served at many weddings and catered events. Other variations can also be prepared by incorporating chicken, lamb, or vegetables instead of goat or mutton.