Biryani is not just food; biryani is an emotion.

Biryani unites us; biryani knows no religion.

As you walk through the streets of Hyderabad, an irresistible aroma leaves you spellbound. In an earthen pot, rice and meat are delicately mixed, topped with the most enchanting of flavours. When you take the first bite of the biryani, spicy yet worth it, you get carried away from reality.

A delicacy so intricate, Hyderabadi biryani was born in the kitchen of the Nizam of Hyderabad. The wholesome flavours are a fine blend of the Mughlai and Iranian culture. It made its way to India through Persia (in present-day Iran). During the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb, he appointed Nizam-Ul-Mulk as the ruler of Hyderabad. Fascinating to mention, the chefs of his kitchen created about fifty different varieties of the Hyderabadi biryani.

Hyderabadi biryani is an evergreen classic © Wikimedia Commons

Hyderabadi biryani can be prepared using chicken, beef or mutton. To get a taste of the oldest Nizam flavours you need to dig through the old city, in the vicinity of Charminar. Also, restaurants like Pista House, Shah Gouse, Shadab, Paradise, Bawarchi serve the heart of Hyderabad on their platters.

Hyderabad’s famous Paradise biryani © Journo Travellers

Being born in Hyderabad, the Nawab’s legacy runs in my blood. Every year on Eid, I celebrate with a huge pack of biryani. It’s a family ritual now. My one-stop to happiness is the ‘My Friend’s circle’ restaurant, which is really cherished by the local crowd.

Last year, before my trip to the Maldives, I was not in a good shape health-wise. I carried my own food to avoid falling sick there. By the end of our stay in the Maldives, my taste buds had lost all meaning. The day we reached Hulhumale, an island-city in the Maldives, it was the eve of Eid and we were surrounded by happy and festive vibes.

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That also clashed with the last day of our vacation. To end our trip on a perfect note, we lined up a visit to an authentic Pakistani restaurant, Tandoori Flames. I broke my bland-food fast with the most amazing biryani. Eid turned out to be extra, extra special. Far away from home, I was still able to keep my ritual alive.

Tandoori Flames, a Pakistani restaurant in Hulhumale © Journo Travellers
Eid 2019 in the Maldives © Journo Travellers

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down. Eid is here, but so is the lockdown. I won’t be gorging on biryani this year. But, no worries! When all this ends, we meet again: me and biryani. I will find my happy place again. Hyderabad will rise, with all its glory.

Shoutout to the Hyderabadi in all of us- Biryani toh apan ki jaan hai, miyan!