Ramadan Foodventures in Hyderabad!
Posted by Jude Mascarenhas on June 12, 2017
The season of Ramadan is upon us. It is an auspicious time that brings not fosters a spirit of unity and togetherness amongst Muslims across India (and the world), but breaks down barriers and brings people from all communities together in the spirit of sharing and compassion.
I work in Bangalore, and if you ask any Bangalore resident, muslim or not, what their favourite part of Ramadan is, it’s Iftar. The breaking of the fast happens after the evening prayers, and if you know Bangalore like I do, then that’s the time you should be heading to the JNC College street or Fraser Town.
My office is located about 10 minutes from JNC College in Koramangala, so heading down there to indulge myself in the smorgasbord of cuisine is a stroke of luck that I don’t question myself twice about. But as it is with most things in life, too much of a good thing will eventually end up becoming a bad thing.
After a hazy week of kebabs, haleem and kheema, I found myself craving a different experience. But where can one go after exhausting all the possible avenues for an iftar foodfest in Bangalore?
There’s only one possible solution. To take a trip out of Bangalore!
I zeroed in on Hyderabad as my destination of choice, because the only thing more synonymous with Hyderabad than the film star Nagarjuna (arguably) is biryani. Also, I had never visited the city before, and a few of my friends who had visited told me that I was seriously missing out.
So I set up my schedule like this, after booking my Bangalore to Hyderabad bus on Thursday:
1) Get off work at 7:30 PM the following day and
2) catch my bus from the Madiwala Bus Stand, which is located nearby
3) Reach the Paradise Fire Station in Hyderabad the following morning, and then begin my food tour from there
4) Catch my return bus to Bangalore at 7:15 the same day so I could recover from the binge eating on Sunday
I had chosen a Sleeper Bus. Money is no objection when it comes to comfort, although a flight ticket was a little out of my budget. The ride was pleasant enough. Night time rides usually are, because the chatter and the humdrum usually dies out by the time the bus hits the highway.
I eventually drifted off to sleep and found myself waking up in the morning in Hyderabad. I got dropped off at the Paradise Fire Station, and made my way to Paradise Bakery for some warm puffs and tea. Delicious and insanely cheap considering the brand name that Paradise holds!
I then proceeded to travel around the area, checking out various shops and restaurants. I also indulged in a bit of sightseeing. First I visited the National Flag Monument, which is pretty close by to the Paradise Fire Station. Being India’s largest flag, it is truly a spectacle that you need to see in person to understand just how magnificent it is. No wonder it’s called the ‘Pride of Hyderabad’.
I also stopped by the Salarjung Museum, a palace that has been converted to showcase the antique collection of the Salarjung family, and you can spend hours browsing through their collection of artifacts, which includes items from, Indian, Middle Eastern, European and even Greco-Roman cultures!
After the Salarjung Museum, I visited the Charminar, which was pretty nearby. The ancient monument is a mosque that every traveller who’s been to Hyderabad has visited at least once!
By then it was time for lunch, and as usual I was faced with a dilemma. See, close to the Charminar are two of Hyderabad’s iconic food joints. The famed Pista House, and the Shah Gouse Cafe and Restaurant.
Both of these restaurants sell the same cuisine, and being a sole foodie, there’s not enough stomach to go around! But I steeled myself. I had the haleem from Pista House, because how could you not! It was delicious, and made me realise just how much haleem vendors in Bangalore needed to up their game!
At Shah Gouse, I had some of their famed paya, which was luckily available. I had heard that it gets sold out pretty fast, so they must have anticipated the weekend rush with it being Ramadan.
Now pleasantly full, I decided to stroll around the area. I needed to let the food burn out before the fast ended, so I made my way to the Laad Bazaar, which is a street known for its jewellery and ethnic curios like bangles, silverware and many similar items.
A little more wandering around led me to the Chowmahalla Palace and Mecca Masjid. This little walk around the area made me realize just how deep sown the culture of the city is in the daily lives of the people living here. As a visitor, seeing all of this for the first time is something that takes quite a while to sink in, but once it does, there’s an unspoken connection that you’ll find hard to shake off.
At that moment, I had begun regretting that I had not booked a Sunday bus, but what’s done was done, and I chose to make the most of it!
I strolled around aimlessly, taking in the sights and sounds, before finally realizing that it was 5:00 PM and that iftar would be starting soon! I had thought of heading back to Paradise Fire Station and make my way from there, but as luck would have it, Charminar had its own set of food stalls being set up!
My pickup point was back at Paradise at 7:15 PM, so I had roughly an hour to gorge down all the delicious kebabs, nihari and baida roti that I could indulge in before catching an autorickshaw to head back to the bus stop!
What followed was food-filled haze, with me practically throwing money around at various stalls just to sample everything that I could. Do keep in mind that most of these stalls only take cash, with some progressive vendors accepting PayTM as well, so keep your wallet stacked.
By some miracle, I managed to catch a rickshaw at around 6:45 PM, and managed to reach the bus stop at sharp 7:15 PM. A van arrived, and transported me and a few other passengers to the main bus stand, where we stepped into the bus.
Once I had settled in to my bunk, I reminisced about the whirlwind of a day that I had just had, and realized how sad I was to leave this bustling little city.
I fell off in a deep sleep thanks to the food coma which was to be expected after the trials I had put my stomach through. Thank goodness for sleeper buses. On waking up, I realized I was back in Bangalore.
I will be returning soon to Hyderabad. This time for a longer duration. Just so I get a chance to fully explore the city, and discover all that it has to offer!
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About the Author
A full time writer and pseudo-starving artist by choice, Jude Mascarenhas is an avid fan of snowy mountains, big motorcycles and loud music. When he's not busy exploring the vast Indian terrain, you can find him at concerts, video game stores or on his never-ending quest for the best shawarma in India.