Savouring royal cuisines
If Lucknow is well known for its refinement, the finesse of its spice mixtures and the elegance of subtle flavours on its aristocratic tables, Hyderabad is famous for its bolder flavours—a natural fallout of the Deccani influence on its cuisine. Pride Plaza Hotel in the national Capital offers you the opportunity to relish both the cuisines.
The famous kachchi biryani of Hyderabad is quite like the original Mughal/Lucknowi pulao in its way of cooking. Both the pulao and the Hyderabadi kachchi biryani cook the meat and rice together on dum. The Hyderabadi biryani is actually just the Awadhi home-style pulao with more spices and a more effective tenderising agent (the raw papaya) than what the home cooks typically used in Awadh.
If the evolution of the Awadhi pulao into the Hyderabadi biryani is fascinating, there are other dishes which reflect a common genesis but different ways of cooking. The pasande or parchey—flat cuts of meat, beaten with a wooden mallet to tenderise them—are once again common in Mughal and Nawabi cooking. In Lucknow, the sense of refinement while cooking these comes through with the subtlety in spicing. In Hyderabad, the flat piece of meat turns into the famous pathar ka kebab—cooked on the hot natural stone from the Deccan with use of bold spices.
If mango is the souring agent of choice in Awadh, tamarind becomes the souring ingredient for a Hyderabadi khatti dal. Sesame seeds, coconut, peanuts all make an appearance as ingredients used in dishes of the south. Dishes like the mirchi ka salan got invented—instead of the bharwan mirch, a table condiment in the north. Both the bharwan dishes and the dolmas clearly have an Ottoman ancestry and we see this influence play out in similar—yet different—ways in Awadh and Hyderabad.
What you like better may be a toss up—the elegance of the Nawabs or the full-bodied sensibilities of the Nizams.
But a culinary journey from the north to the south gives a distinct peep into how inventive cooks in the country have always played around with what was locally available, to give us something new.