Hyderabad has been known by many as a ‘foodie’s paradise’ – and rightly so. While it is particularly famous across the globe for its delicious biryani, it should also be given credit for its other, less well-known dishes, many of which involve seafood.
People say if you want to truly immerse yourself in a culture you should sample the local food. The local cuisine of Hyderabad – known as ‘Andhra’ cuisine – will give you a glimpse of what is on offer. All dishes are made from locally-sourced produce using traditional preparations. The cuisine is generally known for its hot, tangy and spicy tastes. Seafood, unsurprisingly, features heavily in coastal areas.
Hyderabad, as well as its biryani, is known for its Hyderabadi Fish Curry. Many say that the cuisine of Hyderabad can never be complete without a fish curry. The dish is prepared with exotic spices and comes from the royal kitchens of Hyderabad, known for their elaborate and inventive preparations. Although there are different versions of this fish curry, the Hyderabadi variety usually involves white fish such as kingfish, which is washed and cut into one-inch pieces. The fish is then marinated in salt and turmeric before being fried with various spices including cumin, coriander, fennel, pepper and poppy seeds. The fish is then added to the pot, along with yoghurt, and cooked in the gravy on a low heat. Saffron (that has been soaked in milk) is then added, and the fish curry is finished and served with hard-boiled eggs. With rice and paratha this makes for a delicious and wholesome meal, to be enjoyed by the masses.
Another dish that is perhaps not so wholesome but is equally as delicious is Machhli Fry. This is made by smothering chunks of fish in a smooth paste made of garlic, coriander powder, chilli powder, poppy seeds, turmeric and salt. The fish is marinated in this paste for around half an hour before being dipped in besan batter and fried until it is a deep golden brown colour and crispy. This dish is garnished with lemon juice and fried onions and is best served piping hot.
One of the most popular curries to come from Hyderabad is ‘dopiaza’; this dish often features fish as its main component. A dopiaza is normally made with lots of onions (dopiaza means ‘two onions’).
Fish is not only eaten for its delicious flavour. In Hyderabad, it is also used for medicinal purposes. The practice of eating live seafood – including fish, oysters and crabs – has long been a tradition in the region and is thought to be a cure for asthma. Sardines are normally the fish-of-choice for this, and are smothered in a secret blend of herbs.
Whether this works is yet to be scientifically proved,but one thing is for sure – the seafood dishes found in Hyderabad are delicious. If you want to try fish dishes with a difference here in the UK, have you considered booking a table at one of London’s best fine dining restaurants? Here, they showcase seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes like you have never tasted, all with contemporary, Indian influences.