HYDERABAD: In recent times many varieties of cuisines from North-West Frontier and Middle-East are available in Hyderabad. Afghanistan has always had a strong bond with the city, with a few thousand students from that country preferring the universities in Hyderabad for their education. A discussion is on regarding opening a consulate of Afghanistan in Hyderabad soon. Even the food from the country already has a significant presence in the city, with about half a dozen restaurants specializing in the cuisine.
Afghan food has influences from Arabic, Persian, and Central Asian cuisines.
This region was a gateway to India for many traders and invaders coming from these countries, and this has resulted in a confluence of flavours from these places in their food. While the fragrant Kabuli Pulav and huge Afghani Naan are appreciated by any discerning food lover, the kababs and grills from the land-locked country are no less popular. Local cheese like Quroot and dumplings like Mantu are some of the other interesting dishes. The Eastern part of the country which shares its border with Balochistan is home to Sajji, a dish where whole chicken or lamb is grilled on a skewer. Recipes from the region use ingredients like rock salt and dried fruits and nuts, and usually very little spices.
Culinary expert Pradeep Khosla serves a number of Afghani dishes at Kebab Stories, the restaurant in Banjara Hills. As per him, Afghani food hardly uses spices and relies on fat, meat, salt, garlic and black pepper for major ingredients. The skewered kababs have chunks of fat in it, to provide respite to the body in the cold climate. Another highlight is the use of raisin, pinenut, walnut, and even fresh fruits, especially in the rice dishes. Raan-E-Zaika, a slow-cooked and juicy lamb leg Afghani style, as well as Murgh Kandahari, a whole chicken dish are some of the delicacies offered by this restaurant.
Minhaj Hussain started Kabul Darbar in Tolichowki about three years back. The chefs in this restaurant are from Afghanistan which enables it to serve authentic Afghan food. Sajji Chicken, Chopan Kabab and Chapli Kabab among the dishes are very popular with the customers. A speciality here is the Afghani Rosh, where the mutton is cooked in its own fat along with ghee and cream. Minhaj is very satisfied with the response he got from his customers, and has recently started a new Afghan and Arabic themed restaurant named Palm Arabiana Kabul Darbar in Shamshabad. Ariana, a new restaurant serving Afghan food has opened its doors in Banjara Hills. Among its owners is Habib Safi, who hails from Afghanistan. Safi’s family owns Afghan restaurants in Middle-East and Afghanistan, and he is hopeful that Hyderabadis will love the traditional food served here. Apart from pulav and kababs, a delicacy here is Mantu, a meat stuffed dumpling which is popular as street food in Kabul.
Shahi Afghan Durbar and Peshawar in Lakdi-Ka-pul are some other Afghani restaurants in the city, the latter also specializing in Pakhtun and Balochi food from West Pakistan. With so much choice available, it is time to feast on this cuisine if you have not already done so.
Sabyasachi is a food enthusiast and blogs at www.foodaholix.in