Showing posts with label Charminar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charminar. Show all posts

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Over the last couple of years, Chennai has witnessed the mushrooming of several new and innovative biryani places each with its own marketing technique using fancy names and associating themselves to different regions to convince their patrons on their authenticity. But none has been close to authentic in any manner. The variant belonging to the neighbouring state namely the Hyderabadi Biryani too has been in the offering for a long time yet none close to the original one's that can be savoured near the Charminar in Hyderabad. Those available in Chennai are either too spicy or too oily. They just don’t get the right combination. 

For the obvious it always seemed an illusion to authenticity whenever I see such places. My inclination was the same when I first noticed a new restaurant propping up on Lloyds Road named ‘Charminar’. I definitely believed this would be yet another marketing technique by some restaurant owners. Boy was I wrong till I met Ms. Vidya from Charminar. One of the partners of Charminar, Ms. Vidya has a professional experience of more than 5 years in the food industry spanning different categories. She believes in eating healthy so that you can enjoy your meal over and over again. According to Ms. Vidya, Hyderabadi cuisine is generally considered a healthy cuisines because of the ingredients and the way the food is processed for cooking. All the spices that are used in Hyderabadi cuisines have their own inherent goodwill. 

Noticing a dearth in authentic Hyderabadi cuisine in Chennai, Ms. Vidya took upon herself the responsibility of bringing the most authentic Hyderabadi dishes to Chennai. She revealed that they are able to replicate the same authentic taste as most of their spices are sourced from Hyderabad. Also the rice used for their signature Hyderabadi biryani is a specialized long grain rice developed by the Pusa Institute, Delhi (An agricultural research institute of the Government of India). This specialized rice when combined with their traditional method of cooking in an indirect heat, gives the authentic flavour to their biryani. As a matter of fact, the biryani is so healthy that they use only 2 table spoons of oil for every kilogram of biryani. That makes it much healthier in accordance with Ms. Vidya’s ideology.

(Pathar ka Gosht)
(Hyderabadi Chicken 65)
(Titanic Fish)
Charminar has an extensive menu that has both Hyderabadi dishes as well as a few crafted by Vidya and her team. Some of these dishes have really fancy and captivating names. The evening started with the first starters arriving on the table. The ‘Pathar ka Gosht’, a speciality at Charminar, consists of boneless slice of mutton marinated overnight and cooked on a stone tawa hence the name Pathar which means stone in Hindi. This was followed by the ‘Hyderabadi Chicken 65’, which is prepared using curd to ensure a tangy curd after taste. They were crispy and had very minimal amount of oil. The next dish had the most amusing name I’ve ever heard for a dish. The ‘Titanic Fish’ took me by a shock and created an inquisitiveness in me to try it out. Not a big fan of fish when it comes to seafood, I ventured to try the Titanic Fish and wasn’t I amused. Being the latest addition to their menu, it had a very crusty & crunchy batter coating with the fish being marinated in their signature Hyderabadi masala. 
(Loose Prawns)
(Apollo Fish)
(Banjara Kebab)
The Titanic fish was followed by yet another humorous named dish called ‘Loose Prawns’. The moment this dish arrived, I was in no mood to eat as the laughter and amusements had taken the better of me. Being yet another of their speciality dishes, the prawns are batter fried and have ingredients such as celery, garlic and oregano to give it a unique taste. The next up was the ‘Apollo Fish’ which is basically a King Mackerel a.k.a Vanjaram in Tamil, marinated with curd. With a closure on the sea food, the focus now shifted back to the ‘Banjara Kebab’ which is a mildly spiced chicken kebab that is juicy and enjoyable for those who prefer a low spice appetite. 
(Murg Hara Pathar)
(Paneer Sophiyan)
(Singapore Fried Chicken)
(Singapore Fried Chicken)
The next kebab on the table was the ‘Murg Hara Pathar’ which is a similar variant of Pathar ka Gosht excepting that it is the chicken version and the main marinade is based on palak. This was followed by the Sholay Murgh. Just like its name, the Sholay murgh had a tinge of spice yet a succulent base of mint to balance the spice. After a complete bombardment of meat it was time to take one last go at my favourite delicacy, Paneer.  The ‘Paneer Tikka Sophiyana’ was very soft and packed with aroma and flavours. It is quite similar to the Malai Tikka excepting that it had a bit more tinge of ginger. They just melted in your mouth. If I was served this first, then I’m sure I would have gorged an entire serving. The last to hit the table amongst the starters was the ‘Singapore Fried Chicken’ which is designed specifically with the kids in mind. The chicken is rolled in noodles and then marinated in their special sauce. This is then battered and deep fried. It was more of a fun food after the sampling of exotic dishes that was presented until now.
(Begum Nawab Curry)
(Kadai Paneer)
(Dal Fry)
With all the starters done, it was time to move to the next course. For the mains, a very unique dish was served as the non-vegetarian side. Called the ‘Begum Nawab Curry’ which means ‘Queen King Curry’, it was a combination of two sides in a single plate with a clear demarcation. This amazing dish can be ordered in a combination of your choice, be it chicken, mutton or vegetarian. The non-vegetarian dish is accompanied by a bed of sliced omelettes. The sample provided to us was a combination of Chicken and Minced Meat. From the vegetarian side, a portion of an excellent ‘Kadai Paneer’ was presented. Yet again the paneer was amazingly soft and succulent and the gravy had the right amount of spices to balance the taste buds. On a milder note, ‘Dal Fry’ was served in a very cute mini bucket. An assorted variety of breads is also available to pair with the mains.
(Hyderabadi biryani)
(Hyderabadi biryani)
(Lunch Take Away Combo)
A visit to any restaurant serving Hyderabadi cuisine is incomplete without savouring their biryani. As we waited for the grand finale to arrive, I was informed about a uniqueness in their offerings. Charminar is probably the only restaurant in Chennai where a mixture of Chicken and Mutton Biryani is served. No it is not a combination of the two biryanis after being cooked rather the biryani is itself cooked together with both meat from the initial phase. The biryani was as close to the authentic Hyderabadi biryani. This is probably because of their ingredients and the traditional method followed in preparing it. At the end of the day, there is finally a respite for some authentic cuisine here in Chennai. 

Charminar also offers interesting lunch combos in a take away plate. It is again offered in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Charminar is open from 12 pm to 3:30 pm for lunch and from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm for dinner. 

Charminar is located at 269, 1st Floor, Avvai Shanmugam Salai, Llyods Road. For more on Charminar, follow their Facebook page at Charminar – Facebook.

This experience at Charminar was courtesy of Chennai Food Guide as part of their premium restaurant feature. For more on Chennai Food Guide, visit Charminar - Chennai Food Guide

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