“Their biryani was really good, right?” This wasn’t a simple question; this was Masood’s way of saying he wanted to have biryani for lunch. Again. We were in Hyderabad for a couple of weeks to work on some personal tasks that were urgent in nature. And while the said tasks took half of our day, we spent the remaining time working online, since we weren’t on leave from work. I brought my beloved camera with me, as usual, but did not take a single photograph with it. This is so not me! Oh, and ten out of fifteen days we ate out for lunch and had biryani each time. This made for a crazy two weeks!
“Yes, their biryani is really good but we’re not having lunch there today,” I replied. We were driving along Banjara Hills where this restaurant, called Basra Pride, is located. We had biryani there just the other day and, although we fell head-over-heels in love with their food, showing up again in mere 24 hours would poorly reflect on me. I imagined the staff thinking that I didn’t cook and drag my poor husband out to lunch every single day. Masood thought I was overreacting, of course. But when do men understand such things? But since he was intent on getting his daily dose of biryani, we agreed to dine in different restaurants (to save my reputation).
Like most restaurants in the city, the restaurant has a section for men (those who didn’t have women or children with them) on the ground floor and another section for families on the second floor. The family section is air-conditioned, has nicer chairs, and staffed by a more formally-attired crew. I have heard rumors that food served in the family section tastes better and are more expensive compared to the ones served on the ground floor. Regardless, we loved Basra Pride’s mutton biryani and chicken haryali kabab. The mutton biryani, pictured above, is garnished with fried onions, finely chopped coriander leaves, and hard-boiled eggs. The fragrant basmati rice is cooked to perfection, coated gently with the spices that were mild yet flavorful. Some may find their biryani less spicy, but I’ve discovered that to truly enjoy a biryani it mustn’t be too hot that you can not taste the wonderful ingredients that work harmoniously to create this scrumptious dish.
We ended up eating lunch here the most. The only complaint is that they play this really horrible old Hindi song over and over again. It was about some heart-broken man asking society permission to get drunk in order to drown his sorrows.
You should see this place during the month of Ramadan! People from all over the city, and perhaps other parts of the country as well, come in to eat the famous Haleem that is only served during the holy month. The streets are choked with traffic and you’ll need to stand in queue for about an hour for your turn. Fortunately for us, biryani is served all year round. The men’s section does not look very clean, but the family section is decent. Their special mutton biryani is as good as Basra Pride’s. But their tea is one of the best in the city.
And the staff will treat you as if you’re visiting a friend’s house. When the waiting staff, seeing my near-empty plate, came over to spoon a second helping of biryani, I refused simply because I was already full. But the determined staff insisted, “Please, Madam. Eat some more.”
This restaurant is a mere five-minutes drive from where we live in Hyderabad. Their biryani is good but the serving size is smaller and more expensive as compared to other restaurants. Not too long ago, Mandar used to win each year at Hyderabad’s Biryani Festival and a lot of food enthusiasts still swear by its biryani. I personally like their kababs better than their biryani. What we found to be a complete disappointment, however, is the poor service and even poorer hygiene standards: the floor is dirty, the table cloth stained, and the utensils in need of a good wash.
Having heard and read so much about how awesome their biryani was, we went in to have lunch at Bawarchi one day. First of all, their family section is dimly lit (I do not remember but I think they used blue lights). That, coupled with a low ceiling makes you feel closed in a cave. The biryani was too spicy for our taste and the gravy that came with it tasted like burnt spices. The dessert called Qubani ka Meetha was spelled “Qurbani ka meetha” that would translate to the dessert of sacrifice!
Oh, and we had a 20-rupee change from the bill that never came back. When we asked, the waiting staff casually told us that he took it as his tip.
So there you go…our Hyderabadi biryani adventure. Now I’m back in Dubai and just had lunch with my family—home-cooked chicken biryani.