Dabake khao miyan (eat heartily).” Where else can you hear this other than at your uncle’s dinner table crushed under the weight of simmering pots of Marag, Kareli Ka Gosh and Gosh Daalcha with fluffy, aromatic Baghara Rice? Nowhere except in Hyderabadi homes. Wrong. Walk into Chicha’s, the casual dining restaurant founded by Hyderabadi foodie friends Qutub Alam Khan, Fauzan Khan and Aamir Baig. The restaurant—started in May this year—in the city’s Lakdi Ka Pul, is their second home, where they offer Hyderbadi homely food till midnight.
The challenge was to serve Hyderabadi food not available in restaurants. It all started when the friends wanted to have a typical Hyderabadi meal, which is not available in local restaurants. Thus was born Chicha’s, which is how you address your uncle in Hyderabad.
Haleem and Malai Paya is served as a Friday special. Come Saturday and Sunday, there is Nihari Paya, Khichdi Kheema, Gosh Daalcha and Baghara Rice.
Gosht is spelt ‘gosh’. “We wanted to bring the local dialect on the platter so that it sounds and tastes very Hyderabadi,” says Qutub. He points to the interiors that have fake lamp-posts and half-boundaries with a black iron grille surrounding wooden tables and chairs that make it look like a street eating joint. The seating area is divided by an aisle: on its right is the open kitchen area. A meal for two costs Rs 700.
Chefs prepare Pathar Ka Gosh on a huge slab of treated granite. A smoky flavour and the accompanying green chutney make the flavours rise with the right hint of tanginess and spices. The Shikampur Kebabs are tender balls of mutton stuffed with green masala and thick yogurt. Shikam means womb or belly in Persian/Arabic. Kareli Ka Gosh tastes just as brilliant with a subtle hint of sweetness that is almost invisible to the taste-buds but otherwise leaves its aftertaste in the mouth. “It’s made from the shin part of the meat, hence the stickiness. It is prepared in a tomato-based gravy,” says Qutub. The recipes are mostly from his home.
“Many of the recipes are from my family kitchen, but I am not allowed to share all our home recipes in the restaurant,” says the nephew of Nawab Mehboob Alam Khan, the doyen of Deccan cuisine. He dropped the orange colour in Seekh Kebab, replacing it with ingredients from his recipe. It’s been renamed Deccani Seekh Kebab. Soon, Nawab Mehboob Alam Khan will be invited to Chicha’s for preparing the family’s special dishes. A one-day affair, it will be a unique one for food connoisseurs as the Alam Khans are known for their royal yet homely authentic Hyderabadi food for generations. “That’s what people appreciate, coming from traditional authentic old Hyderabadi kitchens. Quality is what we offer. We will open a restaurant in Mumbai soon at the request of singer Talat Aziz, who is from Hyderabad,” adds Qutub.
The dessert list is short, but Apricot Delight can make even big-time foodies swoon. The layers are perfect, with just enough cream on top to balance the taste. “We will introduce Khubani Ice-cream, Biscuit Ice-cream and more seasonal fruit flavours with minimum fat content,” says Qutub.