Southern Cuisine: Hyderabadi Paradise

Your humble correspondant wishes a very Happy New Year from the Asian subcontinent. Over the last eight years or so I have made more or less annual visits to Hyderabad, India.

Hyderabad is a major city in south central India, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. It was once ruled by the Nizams. A hundred years ago the Nizam of Hyderabad was the richest man in the world.

Taking our order

The Nizams were Muslims, and brought with them the cuisine of the Mughals to the north, often called Mughlai. Hyderabadi food is a blend of Mughlai and south Indian, and one of its most popular restaurants is the aptly named Paradise. As in the US, southerners are proud of their food.

Over the past couple of years my friend Benson, a native of Hyderabad, and I have gone to lunch at Paradise. He orders and teaches me about Hyderabadi food. I eat and enjoy the education.

chicken kebabs

Hyderabad, and Paradise, is known particularly for its kebabs and biryani, a spicy rice dish. We started off with garlic chicken and mutton malai kebabs. These would be the most immediately palatable to Western taste. It’s really hard to make clear how good the kebabs are.

naan & butter chicken curry

Next came the butter chicken (a curry) and buttered naan. I am not as skilled as Benson in eating this with my hands (you use the naan to scoop up the curry), but I gave it a go. The curry has a pretty strong kick.

Finally was the mutton biryani. Biryani can also be made with chicken or as a vegetarian dish. It is served with traditional gravies that are mixed in with the rice. Benson remarked how much better this biryani was than what you can get at the hotel. I asked him what makes the Paradise biryani better: “The taste,” he told me. Ah.

Famous Paradise Hyderbadi biryani

Needless to say, I chose to forego supper later in the day. If you ever make it to Hyderabad then welcome to Paradise.