The Southeast Indian state Andhra Pradesh is known for its hot and spicy cuisine and rich cultural heritage. Not only does it include the original Andhra vegetarian-based cuisine, but the sensational food of its “City of Pearls”, Hyderabad. For years, the city was known as the trading center of pearls and diamonds. Hyderabad’s cuisine is a princely legacy of the Nizams and their royal kitchens. 400+ years in the making, the cuisine is heavily influenced by the cuisines of the Turkish (Biryani), Arabic (Haleem), and the Mughal dynasty (mutton and techniques), combined with the native spices and herbs of the Andhra area. Hyderabadi cuisine comprises a broad repertoire of rice, wheat, and meat dishes and the skilled use of various spices, herbs and vegetables.
What makes Hyderabadi cuisine special is the use of unique ingredients, carefully chosen and slowly cooked in layers. The timely addition of a certain herb, spice, or condiment, creates a sophisticated taste and texture to the dishes. The herbs and spices used and the method of preparation gives each dish its name.
Features Of The Cuisine
- It is a blend of Mughlai and North Indian cuisine, with an influence of the spices and herbs of the native Andhra.
- The cuisine emphasizes the use of ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree and time. Utmost attention is given to picking the right kind of spices, meat, rice, etc. and when that ingredient is added in the cooking process.
- The key flavors are dried coconut, tamarind, fresh and dried chilis, peanuts and sesame seeds, which are used in many dishes.
- The Dum (low and slow) cooking method is unique to the south Indian region.
- Of all the Muslim cuisines, Hyderabadi is the only cuisine in the sub-continent that has a major vegetarian element. This has much to do with the local influences of Andhra vegetarian cuisine.
The Foods of Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad
Dum– There is a saying in Hyderabad, “cooking patiently is the key”. The Dum style of cooking is a technique where foods are basically pressure cooked for a long time over very low heat in a tightly sealed vessel. Traditionally, the seal was made with a thick dough. The results are wonderfully luscious dishes that are gently infused with layers of flavors that only low-and-slow cooking can produce.
Rice – The state of Andhra Pradesh is called “the rice bowl of India”. Its unique combination of rivers and tropical climate makes it perfect for growing rice. Andhra is well known for its rice dishes like the endless array of pullous (pilafs) and, of course, the pinnacle of Indian rice dishes, the magical biryanis of Hyderabad.
Biryani – Hyderabadi biryani is Hyderabad’s most famous meat-and-rice dish. The Nizams served some 26 varieties of biryanis for their guests. An authentic Hyderabad meal invariably includes a mutton biryani. biryanis incorporating chicken, lamb or vegetables instead of mutton are also popular. Some biryanis are delicate in taste, some intoxicatingly aromatic, some flavored with saffron, some flavored with cream and some with rose water. Almost all are cooked using the Dum style of cooking.
Tamarind – Tamarind is a plump pod-like fruit with a sweet, tangy flavor that is indigenous to tropical Africa. What distinguishes Andhra’s food from its North Indian neighbors, more than anything else, is how they use tamarind. It acts as a preservative, a cooling agent, and an anti-inflammation remedy. It’s sour and sharp flavor plays a prominent role in bring balance to many Andhra dishes like Pulihora (Tamarind Rice).
Shahi Dastarkhwan – In Hyderabad, the presentation of food is very important as it directly reflects the richness of the food and culture. The royal dining hall was called the Shahi Dastarkhwan, where royal families used to relax and party on the delicious Hyderabadi cuisine. Guests sit at a low table called a chowki, resting comfortably on pillows supported by low backs.
Cook Food from Andhra Pradesh at Home
The MHT team has updated and simplified some of the very best classic recipes from both Hyderabad city and the Andhra region. Now you can make these amazing dishes in your own kitchen so your friends and family can experience these exciting dishes.
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