Sweet Delights: Discovering Hyderabadi desserts in Old City

Little restaurants are as famous for their biryani

By Beyniaz Edulji  Published on  7 April 2024 7:27 AM GMT
Sweet Delights: Discovering Hyderabadi desserts in Old City

Hyderabad: The best time to shop and eat in Hyderabad is after sundown, especially during the month of Ramzan. I especially like the area around Charminar, filled with handcarts and little roadside shops selling small muslin bags of Biryani spices, and dry and fresh fruits.

One can pick up crockery, dress material, curtains, lace and sequins. The famous Lad Bazaar lies close by where people have the choice to buy from the many stocks of the latest designs of glittering bangles.

Hot and crispy

After a tiring day of hard bargaining for saris and embroidered salwars, there are a lot of places where one can stop when the travel hunger strikes.

At ‘Pehla Darwaza’ or the first arch before Charminar is a family-owned fried fish stall. As many as 60 litres of stainless steel drums are filled with fish slices marinated with a blissful mix of spices and fried according to order. Reach soon before the stock is sold out!

Further ahead, Boti and sheekh kebabs served with fried maida parathas are available. Little restaurants are as famous for their biryani as they are for kidney and liver fries, paya (trotters), zaban (tongue), and of course, haleem for which Hyderabadis go crazy.

Something for every foodie

Vegetarians can dig into bowls of channa dal sprinkled with chopped green chilies and coriander with a squeeze of lime and ‘vegetarian haleem’ made from lentils, wheat, ghee, spices, vegetables and dry fruit. Here, meat eaters can spend hours comparing biryani and haleem from Pista House and Shadab.

Most places also sell dessert dishes such as the qubani ka meetha – a stewed apricot dessert served with cream, ice cream or custard.

Best lie in the heart of Old City

During the shopping expeditions, there are always little by-lanes where the most divine desserts are sold for cheap. Shehtoot Malai (or mulberries in cream), mauz ka meetha (banana dessert), fruit salad, kaddu-ki-kheer (pumpkin pudding), kesar phirni, double ka meetha (made from fried bread, milk, cream, saffron, sugar syrup and dry fruit), the beautiful looking badam ki jaali (sweetmeat made from ground almonds, rose water and sugar) and the grandly named gil-e-firdaus (made of pumpkin, khoya, pineapple, rice and milk) are available.

Side trips are also made to different sweet shops and bakeries for ras malai, Osmania biscuits, Kalakand, or the flavour of this year - the Kunafa, a traditional Arabic dessert.

A personal favourite is the jouzi halwa from Hameedi. Jouzi Halwa is a delicious sweet dish, which melts in the mouth. Reddish-brown in colour and topped with cashew nuts and silver foil, this dessert has its origins in Turkey. Hameedi has been in business for over 100 years in Hyderabad and was said to have been started by an 11-year-old Turkish boy who later became the favourite halwai of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad.

Making this is a labour of love as it takes a minimum of 14 hours for its preparation and execution. In Urdu, ‘jouz’ means oats, the main ingredient in the form of oat milk, sugar, dry fruits, ghee, saffron and nutmeg.

Quenching thirst

Quenching one’s thirst takes you to small places selling lassi, falooda, melon and grape juice. The night seems to turn into the day in the Old City. Midnight feasts are never complete without a stop at Famous Ice Cream Parlour which the same family has run since I was a child and where fresh hand-made ice-creams and kulfis are still sold.

Fresh fruit ice-creams like fig, melon, chikoo, custard apple and mango make it hard for us to decide but whatever one’s choice is, the ice cream is bound give our we got our just and delicious desserts!

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