Over the past couple of years, Times of India has been conducting exciting group activities and explorations called Times Passion Trails. The Passion Trails cover various spheres of interests including literature, music, poetry, adventure, photography, and food. On 31st Jan, Times of India kicked off its first Passion Trail based out of Hyderabad – the Telengana Food Trail. Divided into three acts, this exciting trail promised a rare glimpse of the different facets of Telengana cuisine. The humble cuisine of the arid region that forms Telangana has struggled to make its presence felt, largely due to the more popular and lavish Nizami cuisine of Hyderabad. Even though there are multiple eateries dishing out Andhra and Rayalseema fare in the city, authentic Telengana dishes are a bit of a rarity.
The first stop of the Telengana Food Trail was Shah Ghouse, Tolichowki. I would have preferred to experience traditional Telangana breakfast dishes like Taida Ambuli. However, it appears Times settled on Hyderabadi breakfast since it’s more readily available. Shah Ghouse is famous for its Biryani and Haleem, but it’s breakfast is also extremely popular. The restaurant starts welcoming customers as early as 5 AM, and sells out several Handis of Paaya by the time the clock strikes ten.
Paaya is a thin, spicy soup prepared from Goat or Lamb Trotters. This dish originated in Central Asia, and was introduced to various parts of India by the Muslims. The Hyderabadi Paaya is quite different from the one that’s popular in Delhi or UP. The use of the distinctive Hyderabadi Potli Masala (a mixture of various herbs and spices) lends it a rich flavour, while the more liberal use of chillies amps up the heat. Paaya is typically consumed with Naan and Rotis. Shah Ghouse serves traditional Hyderabadi square shaped (Char Koni) Naans. Other popular accompaniments include Kheema (minced meat), Gurda (Kidney), and Kaleji (Liver). A traditional Hyderabadi breakfast is not for the faint hearted. However, if you aren’t put off by the sight of the hooves of lamb in the Paaya, and if you don’t mind the copious amount of spice and grease in all of the dishes, you’ll probably find yourself coming back for more. I personally prefer the Lucknowi Paaya and Nihari, but there’s still something extremely gratifying about kick starting your day with a dose Naans dunked in Paaya with a liberal helping of Kheema and Kaleji.
If you are a vegetarian (or if you just want something that’s a little lighter), you should try the Shah Ghouse Khichdi. The Hyderabadi Khichdi (often called Masala Khichdi) is distinctive from the wet Khichdi available in most parts of India. This Khichdi is prepared from Rice and Musoor Daal, and the grains are not sticky or wet. The Khichdi is served with a Tomato-Garlic chutney and a dish known as Khatta. The Khatta, which literally means sour, is prepared from tamarind, onion, and chillies. The aforementioned Kheema also pairs wonderfully with the Khichdi. In fact, the combination of Khichdi, Khatta, and Kheema is something that everyone visiting Hyderabad should try at least once.
We finished off our meal with Irani Chai and Osmania biscuit. Milk is simmered in a low flame for hours and reduced in three stages in huge vessels. This reduced, slightly pinkish milk is mixed with Khoya (condensed milk) and tea to obtain the final product. Unlike many other cafes around the city, Shah Ghouse got the sweetness just right, which made the Tea supremely satisfying after a rich, heavy meal. Osmania Biscuit derives it name from the last Nizam of Hyderabad – Mir Osman Ali Khan. It is said that this biscuit was invented for him, and later on popularised by the cafes of the city. This sweet and salty biscuit is the perfect companion to the sweet and thick Irani Chai.
Shah Ghouse currently serves breakfast at its Tolichowki and Shalibanda outlets. The newer Gachhibowli outlet only offers lunch and dinner. Portion sizes are large, and a hearty breakfast for two will cost around five hundred bucks.