Daawat - E - Hyderabad
Culinary expedition to Hyderabad
Having been influenced a lot by the rich culture and tradition and with an obsession to know more about our varied regional cuisine, par-excellence, I decided to start my culinary expedition from the city of the Nizams, where cuisine and its skills were treasured as pearls and emeralds Hyderabad.
To get a vivid understanding of the subject, I walked the state libraries and d few did go through few books and manuals.
Having rediscovered it all by myself, but of course, meeting with people and listening to their never ending stories, going to the little road side restaurants and spending the day in their warm and flavorful kitchens where the aromatic stew kept brewing for hours together, most importantly mentioning every moment spent with The Giant of Hyderabadi Cuisine, Nawab sahib, lovingly known by his peers and locals as, Baba.
I feel educated and thrilled whenever I think about it. Without doubt it's been a wonderful venture.
Welcome to the Nizams City of Food, undoubtedly proudly known to be one of the top food cities of India. A gracious city with a rich old life style, Hyderabad as a city will always remain unique, despite being so far south, yet many cultures from other parts of the world have influenced its life style and the excellence of its cuisine.
Hyderabad's four century young history clearly shows cultural influences that have come together in the creation of a distinctive culinary art where local Telangana, Persian, Qutubshahi culture, Mughal sensibilities of Asafjahi, Abyssinian soldiers as well as over lapping boundaries of Orissa, Karnataka and maharastra have all contributed to this rare and harmonious mix.
Legend has it that Hyderabad was first named Bhagyanagar after Bhagyamati, the consort of Md. Quli Qutub Shah, when she came to be addressed as Hydermahal after her marriage, the city was renamed Hyderabad.
A composite culture where Persian and Turkish influence and ancient Hindu cultural heritage of the kakatiyas and the Hoysalas have blended in a gracious mix.
Hyderabad produced leading painters, poets, craftsmen, builders, and musicians, miniature paintings and architects who build beautiful palaces, not to forget even in this century, Miss World.
In the emerging British Empire, Hyderabad acquired a neo-colonial style polo matches, club dances, tiger shoots, fabulous banquets for the British and the Indian royalty, today's Hyderabad is proud of its legacy.
Mohammed Saki, a minister of Aurangzeb had to say about the city -
"It is a resort of heavenly peace and worldly comfort to the human body, its population is even larger than a human mind can think of, its buildings are even loftier than the human intellect can imagine, its air is so refreshing and the flavor of the fountains so sweet and its verdure's so pleasant and invigorating that the flowers and its vegetation of this land may be compared with glitter of ruby and emeralds."
However Hyderabad is today another chock-block city of India, 5th largest to be precise, It's the capital of the telugu speaking state of Andhra Pradesh, people now impatient and in a hurry disturbing the somewhat laid back life style, the character of the city today is changed bringing a considerable contrast with the slow and the elaborate life style treasured by older Hyderabad.
Hyderabad is India's most rapid growing cities in term of technology with the coming of Cyberabad as well as Pollution levels.
Yet one thing shadows every other aspect here, the Daawats of Hyderabad.
Rediscovering Hyderabadi Cuisine
Left for Londa to board the Rayalseena Express which terminates at Tirupati, only train to Hyderabad I guess, it was a comfortable 16 hours journey only to excite me to reach the princely state of Bhagyanagar, later known as Hyderabad. Reached at 10 am and checked in a comfortable lodge thankfully organized by Mr. Vir Vijay Singh, the Area Director of the Taj Group of Hotels, south India, situated at the Banjara hills, once occupied by the banjaras, the nomads during 1580's.
I decided to start my research from the Golconda Fort which would give me an idea of what was this place like, then and help me relate to today's state.
Situated on a hill top Golconda stands outright, Mr. Abdul Hassan a govt. recognized guide showed me and explained me every single thing in detail to an extent, the secret route - the tunnel to escape, which the king had to use in times of danger to their lives.
In earlier times, population tended to congregate around a ruler, the subjects preferred to live with in the confines of the fort as it provided them security against invaders.
Golconda - gola and kunda, which meant shepherds hill was originally made of mud by the Kakatiyas, the king of Warangal in 1143. Later Sultan Quli, a Persian adventurer refurbished the fort with stone and took 62 years to complete and set up his dynasty, the Qutub Shahi Dynasty lasted for 169 years, 1518-1687. Hussain sagar lake built in 1562 adores the City of Hyderabad even today.
Its is also believed that the author of The Arabian Nights was inspired looking at the glorious cultural personality of Golconda. The acoustics here worth experiencing, a mere clap of the hands at the entrance of the court can be heard very vividly at the balasaar the highest point of the fort.
With the fort getting populated, the need for expansion came up, simultaneously Sultan Ibrahim's search for richness also came in a big way. Kullur region not too distant near Krishna river started pouring in diamonds soon. Golconda emerged as the center for the diamond trade. The legendary Kohinoor was discovered, changed many hands now with the British Queen to be the part of her crown, such were the richness then that these were also used as paper weights.
Golconda was undoubtedly one of the greater fortresses of India, impregnable even against the might of the mughal emperors. The only way to conquer it was by treachery and bribing and so it worked. The Qutub shahi dynasty came to an end, the king was taken a prisoner by Aurangzeb. He appointed his governor to take over the charge of Hyderabad and the title of Asaf Jah was awarded to him, it was this time when the British, French, Dutch, Portuguese had set up large trading houses in the south. They came up with superior technology and it didn't take time for the mughals to succumb to their pressure, eventually Hyderabad became a British protectorate and a British cantonment was established named Secunderabad, after the Nizam then SikanderJah.
It was this time when all the ways to lead the colorful life style began, for they had all to do was carelessly spending their rich resources. Mir Osman Ali was known to be the richest man in the world. They ruled for 224 years till 1947 when the time ran out for the rulers and Indian Princes.
Appropriately, Hyderabad had been named after the Beauteous Hydermahal, a Hindu lady wife of Md. Qutub Shah, there is indeed some thing delicate and feminine about the culture of the city. Old Hyderabad has its own identity, a very laid back, easy and leisure are the words for it. There are still people who do nothing but savor every moment of their idleness. Its said that no Hyderabadi then died of ambition. Here the cultured style developed in which courtesy and refinement permeated every ones life regardless of status. Even today one can savor the genteel manners and exaggerated social graces. Greetings are still exchanged with low bows and the words drip with grace and elegance.
The old refinement was evident in various facets of life for instance-Hyderabadi's have always shown a marked incline for things white in their lifestyle may it be Pearls or diamonds. Gold was considered too loud . Holi -the festival of colors was played best with flowers like jasmine and rose.
Though Hyderabad was ruled by the Mughals, liquor was really not considered a taboo, here they when about making it from flowers, fruits, seeds and even venison, birds and biryani, had in a thumb size silver cup called Finjaan.
It was quite an educational tour which lasted for over three hours to cover it in detail. It had many more interesting facts, I guess one needs to be there to experience it to believe it. It was about 5 P.m., Friday the 18th, I was advised to visit the Charminar as it was also a Jumma raat, considered pious by the Muslim's.
Charminar was built by Md. Quli in 1591 in tazia style, after the sacred symbol that shia Muslim's carry during Mohharam, made of lime, mortar and coated with plaster which included whites of egg to give smooth and creamy finish. A massive tunnel from Charminar to Golconda was built and it was used to escape to safety.
A colorful bazaar now evolved all around Charminar, with jewelry and perfume shops called Itr shops, bangles, flowers, kites & paan on one of the street even remain today.
Few shops which make gold and silver sheets unbelievably thin - called sone aur chandi ka vark, thin sheets of gold and silver used to embellish several Hyderabadi dishes. They are manufactured by a process in which thin slice of gold and silver are sandwiched between leather pads made of dear skin and pounded with a hammer, approximately 10 gm of silver can make about 150 sheets of 6 inch square. They are packed between paper sheets and sold at pretty high price in the market.
The obsession with fragrance was intense, every visitor to a home would be offered itr, an oil based Indian perfume essence which would be dapped lightly on the back of the hand and rubbed leaving a lingering scent for several hours. Homes would be smoked with loban every evening. In the absence of today's hair dryer the women would spread their hair over a perforated clay pot or a basket placed over a scented embers with the smoke.
A self proclaimed, road side doctor here, claims to be having cure for any disease or illness and assures of medicinal properties in things like the porcupine, elephant skin, powdered pearls etc...
I landed up there making it more than a visit, staying there over night at this well known eatery named after the lord Bismillah, just to watch how the evening goes by here till the wee hours of the morning, to my surprise here they sold more than 400 portions of Nihari, a stew of lamb trotters and tongue, served as a breakfast food with local bread called Kulchas. The garnish with these are mint leaves, fried onions and lemon wedges. Another interesting dish well accepted here is Chakhna, literally meaning, to savor the taste, indeed delicious but fierce and flavorful, made of the offal's, intestines and all the body parts one can think of. It goes best with local toddy, it is served at only few places but can be had only between 12 noon and if lucky 2 pm or one needs to try the next day as it happened to me.
Later part of the day when up to meet chef Banja the Exec Chef of The Taj Krishna, earlier known as the Krishna Oberoi. Interesting facts were deduced from the discussion had with him, as to why the cuisine here is so spicy and importance given to chilies of so much significance - to share it with all.
The northern part of the state was lesser fertile than the southern where the Krishna meets Godavari and the soil here was indeed better with lots of vegetation, tobacco was widely accepted and was popular amongst most of the folk. The people of the north felt the need to substitute the main course with some relish or pickle to go with their staple, rice. It was either hot and spicy or perkiness which would tingle their palate and so their cuisine took the hotter way, yet another dish very popularly accepted amongst the locals was the Chicken 65, some one dared to consume 65 hottest chilies with this chicken preparation and thus the name evolved.
Legend, not quite apocryphal, has it that on his way to the south, Asaf Jah Nizam-ul-mulk, the governor of the state, broke journey to pay homage to a Muslim saint, the seer offered him a typical bread called Kulcha for his meal. When he finished his 7th bread and couldn't eat any more, the saint blessed him by declaring that his family would rule the south for seven generations. He took it as a gospel and literally made the Kulcha the family emblem and adorned it even on his flag.
Hyderabadis spend endless hours discussing and fussing over food, here the food is treated with a lot of importance. It is said that Hyderabadi eats food to savor good food and not for surviving or better health. Its also believed that Osman Ali khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad would daily write the menu for himself and the entire palace including the servants; they looked like farmaans or the royal commands.
The lady cooks and the wives here are much fussed for their culinary skills, for they possess a magical ingredient called emotion. They say that best food comes with fursat i.e. leisure; and mohabat i.e. love.
In older days it was considered inauspicious to sell food but of course now with the coming of industrialization in every city road side eateries are doing exceptional business. Its normally Ramaadan, the austere Muslims month of fasting which invites considerable culinary activity in Hyderabad. Road side eateries serving delicacies spring up almost every where.
Nihari - A thin stew of tongue and the trotters of lamb simmering whole night is served for sehari, before dawn. It's a typical breakfast food had with Kulchas, fried onion, mint and lemon.
Haleem - is for the iftaar in the evening, when the fast is formally broken, it is a wheat and meat preparation cooked together till it becomes mushy and thick, very pretentious.
In earlier times it would be for the wine to flow and for mujra that was quite obligatory, dancing girl with her flowing costume and coquettish in her gyrations, along with wedding feasts. But what the guest really looked forward to is food. It is much talked about even before the invitations reach out and expectations run high. The origin of Hyderabadi food is quite simple, it's a confluence of varied influence, Indian and foreign.
It blends the class and refinement of the north and with the spices and the perkiness of the south. The intermingling of the aromas, flavors, fragrances, tangs, textures and color have resulted in a highly seductive kind of cuisine. A strong influence of Telangana on the Nawabi Hyderabadi cuisine has made it more welcome. Its believed that no one can sour his food like the Hyderabadi can. They use lemon, tamarind, yogurt, tomatoes, vinegar, raw mango pulp as well as power, citrus fruits like the gnarring, tender shoots of tamarind called chugur, sour spinach called ambada or roselle leaves, sour berries called karonda, sour fruits like bilamboo or halfaleori and kaamrak called the star fruit. Souring enhances the taste of the food and is said to be good for the heart and aids digestion.
Hyderabadi style of cooking predominantly is Baghar - procedure of seasoning, Dum - slow cooking in its own steam, Pickling, Talna - frying.
Herbs and spices are the glory of the Indian food and India proudly has them in abundance, each herb and spice with its own subtle fragrance, flavor and medicinal benefits. The usage of spices differ from region to region here, due to Muslim influence, the spices used are caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, muskmelon and watermelon seeds, cassia buds. Spices are to be handled with care and roasted to right hue, lest you want a bad taste, so its advised that the spices be tied in a muslin cloth and simmer in a dish for it ooze out its flavors and not to jar the taste also.
There are two main magical spice blends here - Bhojwar and Potli masala.
Bhojwar masala is used in dishes like baghare baigan - seasoned aubergine, mirchi ka salaan - green chilly curry, mahi gosht - lamb dish, and it contains coriander, cumin, sesame seeds, peanuts, bay, lichen and coconut.
Potli masala, literal meaning a small sack of muslin cloth tied. It has approximately 32 spices of which some available only around this place are - sandal wood powder, vetivier roots, paan ki jadi, kapur kachri, munsari ka phul etc..
These are basically available at the hakim shops - dealers in allopathic, ayurveda, naturopathy shops.
Like in the west there is a certain order in the manner in which the food is taken. In Hyderabad food is eaten in courses but not served in course, every thing is placed on the table.
First to be had is a dry dish generally called Gazak as an appetizer, could be kebab or a dry fried fish or lukmi - meat stuffed a salt paste dough and deep - fried on slow flame, this is followed by Khalia - generally of mutton, a semidry curry had with phulkas, then comes Shorva or Khorma - both thin curries generally have vegetable in them. Followed by biryani, there could be greater variety of each.
Though for the desserts, time honored favorites are - double ka meetha, khurbani ka meetha, Doodh malai poori, badaam ki jali.
Traditional vessels and equipment's which make this cuisine so special are
Earthen pot - gives a fragrance, which a parched earth gives in the first flush of rains.
Degh - a broad base and a narrower neck vessel made of copper and galvanized, its sheet is quite thick and sizes vary, used for curry, biryani, kurbani ka metha, etc..
Lagan - a round shaped vessel with flat bottom, generally the side walls are max one feet and diameter five feet, available in smaller size also, used for contents to spread and cook evenly.
Kabgeer - a long handle spatula generally five to six feet of iron or aluminum, with a rounded end unlike rectangular of a spatula, use to stir and toss the food item in the lagan or the Degh.
Sigdi - an iron grille fired by coal or fire wood.
Kadahi - a thick iron wok to fry or stir fry or roast dry ingredients.
Pather - a deccan granite stone slab used to cook meat when made hot over coal, infuses certain earthy smell.
Tatee - a stand made of interwoven strips of metal to bar-be-que thin slices of meat, replacing char grill.
Dora - A large ladle of iron or aluminum required for stews, lentils, curries.
Experience at the Kakatiya - An I.T.C hotel chain, which serves the north west frontier and the Hyderabadi cuisine at the Peshawari.
Over all the experience was great and a very memorable one, I reserved a table for myself and walked in the restaurant, was greeted by the manager and very warmly asked for my preference of seating as here there are two different set ups, one which seats the regular way on the chairs and the other which happens to be the traditional and the authentic way of having a meal here in Hyderabad, is called the Dasterkhawan, which means to seat the guest on a low lying cushion and the food placed on a low placed table called the chownki. The whole set up looked beautiful, very comfortable, contrasting upholstery with the crockery and the daster, or the table sheet or the satin underliners.
I was shown the menu card, but simultaneously suggested the specials, I opted for one which comprised of a choice of items in a single thali or more refinedly, a khawan, which is a round silver plate, quite huge, in which sits about ten types of dishes, its covered when its brought and the lid of the round plate is unmasked only in front of the guest, just the way a bride with a burka would unmask her purdah only for her beloved, does indeed feel special and more over it takes us through the vast cuisine Hyderabad has to offer, secondly, value for money.
I was keen to meet up with chef who would do up a wonderful meal for me but only on repeated requests was it possible, I guess secrets are to kept. But this chef was a very gentle and a humble character, was happily sharing ideas and discussing things in some what detail, later he expressed his regret over today's situation and in a poetic fashion told that, "mar aye khanae walae aur mar gaye pakane walae", it meant that - very few people who really love and understand food are existing in today's world and the chefs who could cook food with love and emotion are almost getting extinct.
I was indeed being exposed to a wonderful discussion where the chef went about emphasizing on the quality of ingredients its usages and methods of cooking. I strongly feel that these are the type of personelle required in today's hotel management faculty were they can share and educate the young, thereby bringing the level of expertise up by considerable standards. Not utilizing any more of his time, as he had already given me about an hour and a half, I decided to go for the kill, the much awaited delicacy was arriving, Marag, a thin flavorful stock, very rich in nutrition served with a chunk of boneless meat, tender, following it was the khawan, an elaborate dining experience, which comprised of saag, muragh achaari, burra gosht, haleem, varki parantha and the most talked about zaffrani gosht biryani. There was literally no desire to have any dessert, for I had left no space for the same, but for the insistence of this wonderful stewardess, guess no one could deny having the stewed apricot dessert topped wih freshly churned balaai or the cream. It was indeed worth fingerlicking. During my tenure at Hyderabad I came across a fine gentleman, Mr. Ahmed Ali, who has a furniture business specializing in ethnic designs with great craftsmanship, he also has a catering firm named Lazeez, meaning delicious, and so it is. I happened to be invited to one such wedding, coincidentally being catered by him, I didn't wait for an opportunity but immediately asking him if I could be present at the cooking site the whole time, he without any hesitation welcomed me for the same and expressed his happiness for having me.
I was to report to this Shadi Ghar, wedding hall, at 9 am. Every wedding hall has a cooking area assigned on its rear, as it is mandatory that wedding hall would require a food processing unit in close vicinity for convenient and timely service.
The menu for the wedding of 400 pax that day was:
Lukmi - a type of savory puff pastry, mutton mince stuffed, fried.
Sheekh kebab Azam jahi - mutton mince on skewers cooked on dum.
Dum ka murgh - served with uzbeki naan.
Tala murgh - fried chicken.
Dum ki biryani - Hyderabadi kachchi biryani of mutton served with dahi-ki chutni and baigan aur mirch ka saalan.
Khubani ka meetha - Stewed apricots with balaai or home churned cream.
It was indeed a wonderful day as someone was getting married and for me I guess it couldn't have been better as a opportunity like this doesn't come so often, many observations were made on the process the cooks go about processing food in the most original and ethnic manner, using firewood and utensils so huge that one needs to see to believe.
As any where in any kitchen it's the misc-en-place which is given utmost importance, similarly it was here too, almost half a day, may be a little more for them to complete their extensive basic preparation, but appreciably every thing carried out was in detail and with perfection, to the extent that every single aubergine that was used was slit and checked that they were devoid of any worms.
They were about a dozen of cooks and their helpers in all, every body assigned a particular task to be carried out, whether peeling and slicing onions for barista - golden brown fried onions for biryani and dum ka murgh or ginger and garlic paste for almost every thing, young papaya skin paste for tenderizing the meats, deseeding overnight soaked apricots for the desert and stewing them for couple of hours, whole spices sundried and few dry roasted and powdered in a mortar and a pestle, pastes of dry fruits and nuts like cashew, almond, coconut, peanuts and seeds like poppy, sesame and melon, soaking of tamarind for the saalans.
The lamb carcass and the chicken came in by 12 noon, they were all processed by 2 p.m. and were washed in running water, all fresh meat, Hyderabadis don't believe in any frozen meat, be it lamb, chicken or fish.
It believed that baigan ka salan tastes better the second day as it pickles and matures, well, here it cant be done on a previous day for certain reasons, but can be prepared first and kept so that it matures by evening and more the reason its consumed at room temperature. The meats are all marinated and kept and only cooked couple of hours before the commencement of the dinner as they need to remain hot, they do not reheat the food as it is believed to spoil the taste and the texture of the food.
It was lunch time and the all of them took break for the same, one of the elderly cooks made some local delicacy for us: fried offal's of lamb, raw mango and lamb curry, dalcha boiled, tempered and mashed in a stone grinder and boiled rice strained in a cane colander, the whole experience was wonderful, I was just guessing, that if the meal for us was this good how about the one coming up...
After a little break, the final work started, the dough or the salt paste was made and the mutton mince filling, lukmi happens to be one of the sort after starters for any royal occasion other than the seekh kebab, it requires a very low temperature flame to fry as it contains considerable amount of fat. The iron tandoor is set up for the naans, unlike the clay tandoors that we cook the rotis in. and the dough for it also made and kept to rest to prove. Water is kept to boil for blanching the rice for biryani.
Dinner was to be served at 9 p.m., so the cooks put the biryani and the chicken on dum at 7 p.m., so that it remains hot, the breads were also cooked and kept as its shelf life is a day.
The time arrived for the musical bands to sound followed by a jovial troupe of folk dances when the bride groom was led in the wedding hall, this was the time when the food was to be served on the tables, covers of four and covers of six, all the food was to be kept at one time unlike we have the starters followed by the main course and then the dessert.
It was indeed a wonderful experience to be associated with this catering team.
The food if any left would be distributed amongst the poor and needy, or be taken to the homes of the cooks for their families and their neighbors. Well! lucky to be at least a neighbor if not a khansama, you bet!
The following day I decided to visit Mrs. Mumtaaz Pasha Khan, a renowned name here for home cooking and she believes in relying on a microwave if one can't do it with the firewood or the coke, as in today's world, its not all that easy and practical in a city.
A very soft spoken lady with immense hospitable nature, I was welcomed by her at her residence where she generally conducts her practical lessons for whoever's interested in learning the cuisine. The menu we went about doing here was:
Khatta Murgh - Yogurt based chicken preparation, cooked in an oven.
Bhagare Baigan - Tempered baby eggplants.
Mirchi ka Saalan - A spicy thin curry of Hyderabadi chilies, soured by tart tamarind.
Sofyani Biryani - Sofyani meaning white, Biryani which is totally white as a pearl.
Osmani Khorma - A saffron tinted mutton preparation, named after Osman Ali khan, one of the most successful rulers of the Asafjahi Dynasty.
Murtabakh - A layered pastry of mutton and bread, cooked on dum, truly an Iranian influence on this Nawabi heritage and cuisine.
My coming to the city of food would have been incomplete without having spent time and being guided by so called the Giant of Hyderabadi cuisine, Nawab Mehboob Alam Khan, lovingly called Baba by close associates and friends, and so did I also start to address him respectfully as Baba. To my surprise only on calling him up on the phone, he came up to meet at The Taj Krishna, a very humble and intense genteel expressions shown by him won my heart to the core. It is difficult to believe the existence of such a simple soul in today's world.
There is nothing that he hasn't possessed, from fame to riches, but one thing that he loves is, getting emotional and involved with the rich culture and tradition of Nawabi food, hails from Afghan, he has an immense understanding of the influences of varied cultures on Hyderabadi cuisine. Sitting besides him even if silent without a word spoken, inspires in us love for food, and dealing it with lots of respect, I guess its very heavenly to be associated with him.
A very widely traveled personality, yet he is always on the look out for the styles of cooking and respects it in other parts of the world as well. It so feels that because of his presence the Nawabi cuisine is still alive today in Hyderabad.
I am of the belief that eating out in the restaurants in city in no way is a treat of the royal cuisine, but leaving a bad taste of being cheated merely by few people only interested in making a quick buck. To enjoy and being exposed to the real experience of dining, one needs to be very fortunate to be invited to Baba's home for dinner.
It so happened that I was invited, and since then I would spend every evening in the company of Baba till the time I was there in Hyderabad without fail, with a belief that I would absorb atleast a little of his enormous knowledge which he would love to share. I guess I have been blessed with a little of it.
If it were possible I would like to spent a lot of my time with him, for I know of no better tutor that him, it would be like attaining bliss.
One would be surprised to learn that he still believes in cooking food on dum and using firewood and coke as fuel at home. Not one day passes when either he does shop meat by himself or guides his cook the right way of the art. It's a great sight to observe him perform when he gets involved totally, to create a masterpiece.
The delicacies cooked by him the day I was invited were:
Marag - An Arabic soup consumed during Ramzan, extract of lamb trotters, deftly spiced.
Haleem - Again consumed during Ramzan, a mutton and wheat preparation, blended together and flavored with aromatic spices.
Raan - Leg of a kid, so tender and so very subtle spiced, cooked on dum in a lagan.
Sofyani gosht biryani - Mutton biryani, so very flavorful, yet without any saffron.
Bhagare baigan - The best ever had, Mrs. Khan, wife of nawab sahib, did this dish for us, I was told that she is an equally wonderful craftsperson, cooks only with her andaaz.
Gajar ka halwa - A very rich carrot dessert, I was tempted to have it though I had no capacity for the same.
One of the following days I was invited to a typical breakfast meal of the Hyderabadi's,
Math ki bhaji andey - Math is a green leafy vegetable like the spinach, cooked with eggs.
Khagina - fried egg with a little difference, egg perched on masalas.
Kheema - mutton mince , spiced with chilies and coriander
Khichadi - Red masur, lentils and rice preparation with desi ghee, papadums and pickles.
On one of the Sundays, Baba took us to his farm house in Vikarabad, and here I learnt that every Sunday he offers food to the village folk and the children, food is cooked in big deg's, children love to come and see him and enjoy the delicacy prepared.
We picked up fresh organic vegetables from his vegetable garden, it was a wonderful experience to assimilate with the nature on one side and Baba's works on the other, we even went to the site where he was getting an engineering college built up for the benefit of the local residing there and a facility for boarding for the outsiders.
On returning from the farmhouse we stopped at this crowded tea stall to have burkha-wali chai, burkha being loads of milk and cream that the tea is topped with and khada chamcha chai, loads of sugar in a cup of tea, to add to my enjoyment with this cup of tea yet another sensational thing was happening, India beat Australia in three test series.
I left for Goa on a happy note on 29th of March, 2001, contented with what I had achieved in a span of a fortnight, educational trip with good memories to carry and great names in the field of cuisine to relate to.
Over all it's been a very successful mission with lots of learning, and practical exposure.