hyderabadi cuisine

In Hyderabad's 400 year history the Hyderabadi cuisine has, like its culture, stood high and unmatched by any other state in India. In fact Hyderabad was known for the spectacular way its aristocracy entertained. The feast at these banquets usually contained a selection of Mughlai dishes which would be decorated with varq (a very fine pure silver leaf).

Below are some of the more traditional Hyderabadi dishes which were probably served 400 years ago, and still served today


Lamb and Rice dish - A traditional celebration meal

Ingredients: (serves 6)

2lbs Spring lamb (cleaned, cut into medium size pieces)
4ozs Natural yoghurt
4ozs Pure ghee (clarified butter)
1lb Basmati rice (washed)
4ozs Onions (sliced finely)
1oz Ginger & garlic (equal amounts crushed)
1 Juice of 1 lemon
1oz Almonds (ground)
2 Cinnamon sticks
4-6 Cardamon whole
1oz Milk
1/4 tsp Saffron
2-3 Green chillies
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
2-3 Cloves
1/2 tsp Garam masala (equal amounts of Black Zeera, Cardamoms & Cinnamon sticks, with half amount of cloves)
- Salt to taste
- Coriander and fried onions to garnish


In a large bowl mix the meat, yoghurt, almonds, chopped green chillies, ginger and garlic, salt, and ground garam masala. To the mixture add half a teaspoon each of chilli powder and turmeric. Marinate for at least 4-6 hours in the fridge.

Fry the onions in ghee until golden brown and crisp. Drain away any excess ghee and then remove the onions and spread over a large plate. This should keep the onions crispy. Once they have cooled crush the onions with your fingers and add this to the marinated meat mixture.

In a large pan half fill with water and add salt, whole garam masala and one green chilli. Bring this to the boil and add the washed rice and cook until the water boils. Once the water has boiled drain the rice in a colander and rinse with a little cold water.

Grease the saucepan generously with ghee and transfer the meat mixture. Level the surface and now spread the rice evenly over the meat. Squeeze the lemon and pour the juice over the rice. Warm the milk and crush the saffron into it. Pour the milk/saffron mixture over the rice. Dot generously with ghee. To garnish spread the fried onions and coriander over the rice.

Cover the saucepan tightly. Allow to steam on high heat for about 10 minutes and then lower the heat and cook for another 1 and a half to 2 hours. Before removing the pan from the cooker ensure that there is no moisture left in the meat. This can be checked by simply listening for a sizzling sound. If there is no sizzling then the Biryani is ready.

Biryani is traditionally served with Mirch Salan and Yoghurt Chutney (simply combine finely chopped onions, chillies and coriander to natural yoghurt - mix well and season to taste).

Recipe compliments of Mrs. Qudsia Shafiuddin

Chilli Curry - usually accompanies Biryani

Ingredients: (serves 4)

250gms Large/long green chillies/hot peppers
50mp Cooking oil
30gms Tamarind pulp
100gms Natural yoghurt
2tbs Lemon juice
- Salt to taste
For salaan paste:
250gms Roasted onions
35gms Roasted peanuts
35gms Coconut
20gms Ginger & garlic paste
5gms Sesame seeds
- A sprig of coriander leaves


Deep fry green chillies in hot oil. Remove and keep aside. Grind together desiccated coconut, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, roasted onions and peanuts to make a fine paste. Reheat oil already used for frying chillies. Ensure that the paste does not stick to the pan. Fry the salan paste for 20 minutes, keep stirring. Pour 15 ml of water at regular intervals.

Add yoghurt and salt and stir for 3-4 minutes. Now add the tamarind pulp and 15 ml of water. Stir for 5 minutes until the gravy is of sauce consistency and ensure that it does not stick to the pan.

Add the fried chillies to the hot gravy. Let the gravy come to a boil. Remove and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with biryani/pulao/pilaf.

Chicken Curry

Ingredients: (serves 8)

2kg Chicken pieces
500gms Natural yoghurt
100gms Coconut
1Kg Onion
2tsp Garam Masala
1/2tsp Pepper powder
100gms Ginger-garlic paste
50gms Fresh green chillies
1tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi)
2tsp Coriander powder
300gms Cooking oil
1 Cup water
- A sprig each of coriander and mint
- Salt to taste


Chop the onions into fine slices and fry them till golden brown. Marinate the chicken pieces for 10 minutes in 2 tsp of salt (salt to taste) turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder and ginger-garlic paste. 

Fry onions until golden brown and then add the marinated chicken pieces. After 10 minutes add the whipped yoghurt and a cup of water and stir well. Cook for 5 minutes. 

Then add the desiccated coconut, pepper powder, chopped coriander and mint leaves. Cover and allow to cook for 15 minutes. 

Beat served with fresh parathas or roti.

Hyderabadi Porridge - a local favorite


200gms Wheat (whole)
300gms Boneless mutton
20gms Fresh green chillies
2" piece Ginger
6-8 flakes Garlic
100gms Cooking oil
3 medium Onions (sliced)
2 medium Lime
1/2tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi)
2tsp Garam Masala
- Salt to taste


De-bran the wheat, wash and soak for 2 hours.

Clean and marinate mutton with half of ground paste of ginger, garlic, green chillies and salt for 1 hour.

Pressure cook the soaked wheat and marinated meat for about 45 minutes. Mince and grind to a fine paste.

In a Pan heat oil, add the finely sliced onions, fry till brown, add the spices.

Add the ground paste and keep stirring occasionally. On slow flame, till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, with lime wedges coriander and fried onions as garnish.

Vermicelli Pudding - Another celebration special

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

100gms Vermicelli
1500ml Milk
250gms Sugar
50gms Cashew nuts (chopped)
50gms Almonds (soaked and chopped)
50gms Dates (chopped)
6 Cardamoms (crushed)
4tsp Pure ghee (clarified butter)
250ml Water


Fry the nuts in 2 tsp of clarified butter. Make a sugar syrup (one string consistency). Fry the vermicelli in the remaining clarified butter until golden brown.

Boil the milk until it is thickened to half the quantity. Add the fried vermicelli to the milk and cook. Do not allow lumps to form. Add sugar syrup and cook for a while until it comes to a homogeneous consistency. Sprinkle cardamom powder. Garnish with fried nuts.

Serve hot or refrigerated.

Bread Pudding


1 Loaf of white bread (sliced)
1litre Milk
500gms Sugar
250gms Double cream
250gms Pure ghee (clarified butter)
100gms Chopped & roasted cashew nuts
100gms Almonds (soaked and chopped)
10gm Saffron
5 Cardamoms (crushed)


Cut each bread slice into four pieces. Fry them in clarified butter till golden brown. Make a sugar syrup by adding half a litre of water to the sugar and boil it for 15 minutes. Add the powdered cardamom and the saffron dissolved in milk to the sugar syrup. Boil milk until it is thickened.

Arrange the fried bread pieces on a flat tray and sprinkle the chopped nuts on them. Pour the sugar syrup, double cream and milk alternately over the bread pieces while they are still hot.

Refrigerate and serve as dessert.

Carrot Pudding

Ingrdients (serves 6)

2kg Carrots
1litre Milk
500gms Sugar
500gms Pure ghee (clarified butter)
50gms Chopped & fried cashew nuts
50gms Almonds (soaked and chopped)


Peel and grate the carrots fine. Fry the grated carrots in 4 tbsp of clarified butter. When the carrot is fried well, add milk and cook for a further 15 minutes. Add the remaining clarified butter. Garnish with nuts.

Serve hot or refrigerated.

Apricot Pudding - A favorite at weddings


200gms Apricots (whole/dried)
60gms Sugar
50ml Fresh cream
300ml Water


Wash and soak the apricots in hot water for 15 minutes. Mash and stone the apricots. Break open the stone and remove the nuts.

Heat the mixture of apricot and nuts until it starts thickening.

Add sugar and cook for another 2 minutes.

Allow the mixture to chill.

Traditionally served with fresh cream or plain custard.


Authentic Hyderabadi Masalas available from: