My First Food Walk around Charminar is a Discovery of Stories in Old City Hyderabad
If there is god in every stone, if there is poetry in every nook of nature, then there is a story in every lane and alley. That is what I realized during a recent food walk around the Charminar in Old City Hyderabad.
My first ever food walk in the City of Nizams was no less interesting than a discovery of stories behind the decades-old eateries and their signature gastronomic merchandise. Travellers come and go. Foodies come and go. But they have been there in the limelight of the towering monument for generations.
The area around the Charminar wakes up early in the morning and starts the day with cups of Irani Chai and Osmani biscuits at Nimrah Café & Bakery. When you are in Old City, you should live moments of the snack time with aromatic sips of Irani Chai and melting bites of Osmania biscuits, which were favorites of Mir Osman Ali khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. Tie biscuit shaped like bow tie is another must have at Nimrah Café.
Peeping over the cup of tea to steal glimpses of the Charminar at a stone’s throw and capturing the moment in a time-defying frame is a popular indulgence here.
The food walk along the trail of discovery in Old City took a turn towards Govind ki Bandi, leaving the empty cups and plates with our sighs behind. The air heavy with whiffs of butter melting all over dosas in the making on a hot griddle paved our way to Govind ki Bandi, a roadside shack, which springs into action with sunrise and knows no rest at daytime.
Govind, who has been in this business for over 30 years, serves back-to-back butter dosas and tava idlis without a full stop. The locals swear by the taste of his creations seasoned with karampodi and garnished with a mix of chopped onions and tomatoes.
I got into the swing of Hyderabadi hospitality which reached its height with our visit to Hotel Nayaab for brunch. One of the landmarks in Madina, an age-old commercial neighborhood in Old City, Hotel Nayaab has preserved and served the traditional Hyderabadi food for generations. Its signature dish is Paya ki Nihari (lamb trotters broth).
Paya ki Nihari is a slow cooked dish prepared overnight with herbs and spices in various vessels on low flames. It is served and best enjoyed with butter-smeared naan. Hotel Nayaab is also known for Keema Samosa and Bheja Fry. A brief walk through the history of the eatery was a vintage add-on to our sinful indulgence over plates of paya ki nihari and other delights.
Like typical Indians addicted to tea, I ended the brunch with cups of Saffron Tea or Kesar Chai at Hotel Nayaab. Though the smoking hot tea added to the temperature of the day, the subtle aroma of saffron in the tea was pleasing to the senses.
The food walk in quest of stories reached its climax at the confluence of snacks and desserts in a quaint lane beside the High Court of Hyderabad. A small group of people from Rajasthan has put three roadside shacks collectively known as Rajasthan Jalebi and Namkins. They have been treating Hyderabadis to their varied Rajasthani namkins (snacks), kachori, samosa, jalebi and imarti for over five decades.
Their ancestors ended up settling here after a long quest of livelihood and passed on the business of making mouth-watering Rajasthani delicacies to their descendants. I don’t know if their tempting merchandise for foodies is an inheritance of loss or gain away from the native land in the sands of Rajasthan, they seem to be happy amidst the hues of Hyderabad which they call home.
My first food walk around the Charminar in Old City Hyderabad came to a happy end with bites of juicy jalebis. It was an interesting discovery of stories around the inheritance of culinary hospitality and traditions that decades-old Hyderabadi food eateries like Nimrah and Hotel Nayaab have kept alive.
Thanks to Swiggy India and Neidhi Kumar from FoodDrifter.in for making me part of such a great experience across the thriving culinary landscape of Old City Hyderabad!!
Also Read My Stories of Best Food in Hyderabad