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  • Writer's pictureRafiya Quraishi

HISTORY OF HYDERABADI CUISINE (Courtesy Wikipedia & Amanda Lanzillo)

Hyderabadi cuisine (native: Hyderabadi Ghizaayat), also known as Deccani cuisine, is the native cooking style of the Hyderabadi Muslims, and began to develop after the foundation of the Bahamani Sultanate, and more drastically with the Qutub Shahi dynasty around the city of Hyderabad, promoting the native cuisine along with their own. Hyderabadi cuisine had become a princely legacy of the Nizams of Hyderabad State, as it began to further develop further on from there. It is an amalgamation of Mughal, Turkish, and Arabic along with the influence of the native Telugu and Marathwada cuisines. Hyderabadi cuisine comprises a broad repertoire of rice, wheat, and meat dishes and the skilled use of various spices, herbs, and natural edibles.

Hyderabadi cuisine has different recipes for different events, and hence is categorized accordingly, from banquet food, for weddings and parties, festival foods, and travel foods. The category to which the recipe belongs itself speaks of different things like the time required to prepare the food, the shelf life of the prepared item, etc.

The legacy of authentic Hyderabadi cuisine and its unabridged royal saga of dishes and recipes are believed to still persist with old Deccan families.

Medieval period

The Deccan region is an inland area in India. The native cuisine was prominent until the Vijayanagara Empire lasted, it was during the rule of Delhi Sultanate, Muhammad bin Tughlaq when he shifted the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, the Deccan region adopted the foreign cuisines. In the 14th century when the Bahmani Sultanate was formed by revolting against the Delhi Sultanate in Deccan, the Turkish noblemen were appointed in the high positions and introduced the Turkish cuisine. The two centuries-long political instability in the region of the Deccan and the main Central Mughal authority and migration has introduced Deccan with multiple foreign cuisines.

In Deccan medieval cuisine, banquets were common among the aristocracy. Multiple courses would be prepared and served in a style called Dastarkhan (A long cloth laid on the floor on which food dishes and dinner plates are placed). Food was generally eaten by hand, served on among commons and nobility. The food was mostly meat-oriented being grilled and fried in tandoor. The curry was highly seasoned and flavored by using spices. Fruits were preferred rather than dessert after the main course. Once the meals are ended Kahwa (liquid hot drink) was consumed that contains ingredients to digest food. The ingredients of the cuisine varied greatly according to the seasons and festivals, and many items were preserved in the form of pickles.

Modern period

Modern cuisine was evolved during the Nizams in the mid-17th century and elevated to a sublime art form. Hyderabad has a history of the continuous influx of migrants from all over the world and in general from the Indian sub-continent, particularly since 1857. Most of the foreign food had been improved to suit the culinary preferences, resulting to form the unique derivative cuisine that excels over the original. Biryani (Turkish) and Haleem (Arabic) for instance is prepared all over India, but the Hyderabadi variety is ultimately from the Hyderabadi Biryani and Hyderabadi Haleem, Til ke chatuni with Arabic tahini, Persian dried lamb with beans is modified with dalcha, tandoori naan of Uzbek (Central Asia) to create Sheermal. Most of the modern-day desserts in Hyderabadi cuisine were introduced and invented during the times of Nizams, today that had become an integral part of the cuisine.

Hyderabadi cuisine is an integral part of the cuisines of the former Hyderabad State that includes the state of Telangana and the regions of Marathwada (now in Maharashtra) and Kalyana-Karnataka (now in Karnataka). The Hyderabadi cuisine contains city-specific specialties like Hyderabad (Hyderabadi biryani and Hyderabadi Haleem) and Aurangabad (NaanQalia), parbhani (Biryani and Tahari), Bidar (Kalyani Biryani), and others. The use of dry coconut, tamarind, and red chilies along with other spices are the main ingredients that make Hyderabadi cuisine different from North Indian cuisine.

Hyderabadi cuisine is often spoken of as a hybrid cuisine, which combines earlier Deccani food practices, many of which evolved under the Bahmani and Qutb Shahi dynasties, with Mughal cuisines brought to the region around the seventeenth century. The role of migrants in the evolution of this food culture has never been in doubt, but much writing on the food of the city emphasizes the contributions of Iranian and other trans-regional migrants who moved into the city in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The fact that many Hyderabadi dishes consolidated and evolved in part as a result of mid-and late-nineteenth-century migrant movements within the Indian subcontinent is only rarely discussed.


Hyderabadi dinner is also known as Dastarkhwan is usually of five-course meal; Aghaz (Soup), Mezban (Appetizers), Waqfa (Sorbet), Mashgool Dastarkhwan (Main Course), and Zauq-e-shahi (Dessert).



Lukhmi is a regional non-vegetarian variation of the samosa, though, it is shaped into a flat square patty. It is made from flour and stuffed with minced mutton or beef, known as Kheema. It is eaten as an evening snack or served as a starter at celebrations.


Murtabak is often described as a spicy folded omelet pancake with bits of vegetables. It is the most common form of Murtabak; which is an Egg-filled pancake, sometimes mixed with green onion and minced meat, made from pan-fried crepes which is folded and cut to squares.

Hyderabadi Haleem

Hyderabadi Haleem is a popular dish of Hyderabad. It is a stew composed of mutton, lentils, spices, and wheat. It originates from Harees, an Arabic dish brought to Hyderabad by Arab migrants. Harees is still prepared in its original form in Barkas. It is sometimes served as a starter at celebrations, but it is usually only prepared during the month of Ramadan for the Iftar meal.

Biryani Hyderabadi Biryani with salad Mirchi-Ka-Salan or Bagare Baingan, and Dahi-Ki-Chutney. The layer of meat is hidden under the layer of rice.

Hyderabadi Biryani is one of the most popular dishes of the city. It is distinctly different from other variations of the Biryani, originating from the kitchens of the Nizams of Hyderabad. It is a celebration dish of basmati rice and mutton, along with yogurt, onions, and various spices.

Variants of Hyderabadi Biryani

  • Kalyani Biryani is a variant of the Hyderabadi Biryani using beef instead of lamb or mutton. This meal was started after Kalyani Nawabs of Bidar came to Hyderabad sometime in the 18th century. The Kalyani biryani is made with small cubes of beef, regular spices, onions, and many tomatoes. It has a distinct tomato, jeera (cumin), dhania (coriander) flavor.

  • Degh ki biryani is a typical biryani made from small cubes of beef or mutton. This biryani is famous in Parbhani and generally serves in marriages.

The meat is flavored with ginger, garlic, red chili, cumin, garam masala, fried onion, and Curd. This biryani is also known as kachay gosht ki biryani or the dum biryani, where the meat is marinated and cooked along with the rice. It is left on a slow fire or dum for a fragrant and aromatic flavor.

  • Tahari, made by the Hyderabadi Muslims is a rice and meat dish. Unlike biryani in which rice is pre-cooked and then layered with meat, rice in tahari is cooked in meat. Occasionally vegetables, more commonly potatoes, are also added. It is served with Dahi ki chutney.

Other Famous dishes


Pathar-ka-Gosht is a mutton kebab. It is named for the traditional method of preparation, on a stone slab. (Pathar means stone in Urdu as well Hindi)

Hyderabadi Khichdi

The Hyderabadi version of the popular dish Khichdi is distinct from the many variants enjoyed all across India. It is eaten with Kheema (minced mutton curry). It is consumed as a breakfast item, as well as during the month of Ramadan for the Sehri meal.

While most khichdi preparations use toor or moong dal, the Hyderabadi version uses masoor dal. Also, turmeric doesn’t feature in the ingredients list although some people use it in the modern preparations. The colouring of the dish comes from the caramelized onions that are an important flavour of the dish. As opposed to the semi-liquid, moist preparation of khichdi elsewhere in the country, the dish made here has a drier texture, and each grain of rice stands out.

lists approximately 30 types of khichri's, including almond khichri, Jahāngīrī khichri, mustard khichri, pistachio khichri, Āṣaf Jāhī khichri, as well as khitchri's made with toor dal, mung dal, masur dal, and mash dal.

Talawa Gosht

Tala Huva Gosht, or Talawa Gosht (in Hyderabadi dialect) is a simple mutton or beef dish usually accompanied by Khatti Dal. It may be eaten with Roti or rice.


  • Qubani ka meetha (Khubani-ka-Meetha) - Apricot Pudding, Toppings with almond and cream. The original recipe is a translucent liquid.

  • Double ka meetha- Bread Pudding topped with dry fruits, a derivative of Mughlai dessert Shahi Tukre.

  • Sheer korma - Vermicelli pudding and celebratory dessert, specially made on the Ramzan (EId Ul Fitr) day.

  • Firni - A Rice dessert.

  • Gil-e-Firdaus - A variant of Kheer made of bottle gourd. The name literally translates into "the clay of paradise".

  • Faluda - A dessert made of shredded vermicelli noodles with rose syrup and milk.

  • Aab ka shola (Aab shola) - Typical Hyderabadi summer sharbat.

  • Hyderabadi Irani tea available at Irani cafes served with Osmania Biscuits.


  • Naan

  • Sheermal

  • Khamiri roti

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