HYDERABAD: The Hyderabadi cuisine has many popular dishes whose preparation methods are markedly different from those in other regions. Apart from haleem which comes to mind first, another dish in this category is Patthar Ka Gosht, where a heated stone is used to cook pieces of boneless marinated meat. A favourite from the days of Nizam Asaf Jahi VI, this dish is still much sought-after by food lovers on any visit to the city.
It is said that late in the 19th century, the Nizam Asaf Jahi VI used to frequently go hunting in the forests. On one such trip, his bawarchis forgot to carry their skewers and shikanjas were required to prepare kebabs and innovated by cooking mutton on a flat granite stone heated by firewood from below. The Nizam developed a liking for the dish, and so this recipe was replicated repeatedly at the royal kitchens. More than a century later, the dish is still popular in many areas in the city.
Especially during Numaish, the annual exhibition of Hyderabad, many visitors flock to their favourite Patthar Ka Gosht stalls at the exhibition grounds. However, cooking on a stone is not just a specialty of Hyderabad, it is prevalent in some Arab countries too. In India, Mumbai and Bangalore also have limited availability of street food prepared on heated stone slabs.
There are few important aspects of making a perfect Patthar Ka Gosht – selection of a right granite stone is one of them. The stone should not crack under the heat, and it should not be too thick to consume extra heat, instead, it should act as a good conductor. In this recipe, slices of flattened lamb meat are marinated in garlic, ginger, chilli paste, salt and raw papaya for at least four hours and often overnight, so that the meat becomes quite tender. It is then roasted on a stone heated with charcoal below. The end result is often truly a melt in the mouth dish. The proportions of marinade, ghee, the roughness of the stone as well as the timing of flipping the meat over play a role in getting the optimum taste. One of the best places for Patthar Ka Gosht in Hyderabad is Bade Miyan Kababs, a small kiosk midway on upper tank bund near the Ramadasu statue.
The shop is owned by Syed Shaji whose great-grandfather Haji Syed Ismail started this business. The outlet uses proprietary spices, and the ghee is used as a medium of cooking on the charcoal heated stone. As per Shaji, the stone used is called pahadi stone and it has to be selected very carefully. The soft Patthar Ka Gosht is served here with a little bit of onion salad and some delectable mint chutney. Rumali roti often becomes a perfect companion too.
Bade Miyan has another stall at Forum Mall and sets up a temporary kiosk known as Ismail Restaurant every year at Numaish. Sabyasachi is a food enthusiast and blogs at www.foodaholix.in