Assalamualaikum my friends.
What comes to your mind when we say Hyderabad? The mouth watering smell of Biryani and an image of The Charminar pops up. If you plan for a delicious night out in Hyderabad, there is one place people would love to go and that is The Charminar. All the Hyderabadi food items you hear about are the best from Charminar. To add to it, its Ramzan time – take your taste buds on wild journey.
So Viswa and I had decided to give a visit to the pride of Hyderabad- The Charminar. If you need a good ambiance and a neat place to eat, then this place is not the right one for you. Just come here, click a selfie with The Charminar and do some shopping. Charminar is the best place for shopping and is a feast for your eyes. Bargaining is the best way to get some great deals at the shops here.
But if you are fine with an average ambiance and tasting good food in a large variety is your main priority than this is a top notch place for you. So the places I’m going to mention below do not have a good ambiance and are flooded with people from all over the city.
I am sorry for the grainy pictures, in advance but I have tried my best to capture the heart of The Charminar in these pictures.
So to start off, we first went to have the famous Irani Chai. Irani Chai needs no definition. The first thing you have at Hyderabad is the Irani Chai. Its a Persian dish. There’s an interesting story attached to this – the Persians migrated to India in search of better life and trade. They first came to Mumbai and moved to Pune and then stopped at Hyderabad; bringing in the Irani Chai with them.
The best Irani Chai at Charminar is at Shadab Hotel. This place is too crowded. You should thank your lucky stars if you get a seat here. You may also need to share a table with others. But the Irani Chai with biscuits here is to die for. Take a sip and your mind starts to relax and your taste buds arise for the great journey they are going on. I advise you to drink it slowly as you would want to enjoy every sip of it. A cup of Irani Chai is just Rs.12.
Then we headed towards Charminar. On the way we saw fresh Jalebis being made. Viswa’s mouth started watering. Generally, people eat sweets as a dessert after their meal. But Viswa takes the road not taken and eats sweets before his meal. So he didn’t give a second thought and stopped the vehicle before a shop named “Rajasthan Jalebi and Namkeen”. To be honest, even I couldn’t resist myself after watching the fresh Jalebis being made and dripping in the syrup.
There were two types of Jalebi and we sampled both the types. There are no dustbins there so be careful and be a good citizen. Do not litter the area. Find a better place to throw it. They were truly yummy and were a great dessert/pre-dinner snack.
Now we were headed again to Charminar. On the way there were many hotels and they were serving all kinds of dishes – Haleem, Chai, Kababs and many more dishes than I could count. There were small street shops selling items. A place named “Al-Akbar Fast Food Court” caught my eyes.
The name seemed familiar to me. I don’t remember if I’ve read about it or heard it from someone I know. I heard that the Chicken 65 here was too good. But I wasn’t sure if it was this place or another for sure. But we decided to give it a shot. If anything would go wrong, Viswa would not spare me, as our taste buds were really enjoying the food we had till now. The chai, biscuits and jalebis were so good that if this tasted bad, all that would go away. But I wasn’t ready compromise and I wanted to take that risk. If we missed this, we may really miss something good. So we parked our vehicle and went in. We called the waiter and asked for the menu. He pointed to a TV Screen. There was one image repeatedly flashing on the screen and it was the menu.There were hardly 10 items displayed and one among them was the Chicken 65. We ordered Half plate Chicken 65 and two Rotis to go with it. We were keeping our fingers crossed.
In no time the waiter brought us our order and placed it on the table.
The dish looked good but we were fighting over who would be the one to try it first. Then we settled with a decision that both of them will have it once. Its chicken 65, it wouldn’t be that bad, would it? But the place didn’t give us that impression. It was actually closing time, so there weren’t many people at the restaurant.
So we took a bite and it turned out to be really good. I was happy that it tasted good and was happier that what I heard was right. It was so good that we decided to order another plate. The chicken was soft and tasty. “Don’t Judge the book by its cover” this quote ringed the truth at that time. We never had a high prioritiy for ambiance. The taste of the Chicken 65 with roti was simply superb.
We had Half Plate Chicken 65 which costed us Rs.70 and two Rotis which costed us Rs. 5 each. This dish should have costed more. If this same dish was served at some five star restaurant, it would have costed more and the taste would not be the same.
We were almost full. We burped, paid and came out of the hotel.
The streets from here were narrower than the roads outside as the sides of the street were crowded by shops. We couldn’t park our vehicle if we went further so we left the vehicle in front of the hotel and started walking. On the way there were many shops. Its a real treat for women. If you take a woman with you out there, don’t expect to come back sooner. They may not even bother that you are still with them. There were many bakeries and hotels which served Irani Chai, bakery items and much more on the way. We reached Charminar.
A year back there was lot of pushing, trampling and general hysteria near Charminar and there used to be a lot of traffic. Due to the crowd, many phones, purses and any other valuables you had on you would be robbed. But now there is tight security. The police would clear the road as soon as possible. There was no traffic jam nor people pushing each other. You could see families taking photos and the young ones taking selfies before The Charminar. But you need to be quick if you are taking a picture here, because you are blocking someone’s way. They are polite enough for you to finish your photo session but they may not wait longer.
Yes, I know we look funny but a click before The Charminar is mandatory.
So moving on from our scary faces, we went further to the other side of Charminar.
The shops continued. There were shops of Burkhas, Shawls, Topis, Clothing, footwear, jewellery and everything from pins to planes. You would love it if you happen to pass in front of the Ittar selling shops. It smells really good. Due to those shops, the whole street had a beautiful fragrance in the air. If you want to buy a Ittar then you can buy it from a shop named “Famous Ittar Shop”. They have wide varieties within a reasonable price range.
Now Viswa and I felt that the walk was enough. We hadn’t really come here for shopping anyway, so we marched back to our vehicle. As soon as we reached our vehicle the waiter came with a Rs. 10 and said “Sir, you forgot to take your money.” I was so touched by this. He had waited for us to return to give us the money. I have such a huge respect for such people. I added another Rs.10 to it and told him to keep it as a tip. He gave a broad smile and thanked me.
I always wanted to try the Ghawa drink. People say it is excellently made out here in the old city. I enquired with a passer-by about where we could get some good Ghawa around here, and he replied that “Mashallah Arabi Ghawa” was the best and its near by. So we went in search of that hotel. We didn’t need to search a long while for it because it was very near from the place we started.
I don’t know if it was a fully constructed hotel, but it looked like a hotel under renovation. The floor was all blank, no walls, no tables and no chairs. There was one bench. At one end there was person who was giving tokens and at the other end a guy was serving Ghawa. There was a crowd craving for Ghawa. We ordered two for us. All the customers stood in groups and were talking, laughing and enjoying their Ghawa.
It looked like Badam Milk, but it didn’t taste anything like Badam Milk. It had a very unique taste. I couldn’t say it is some sort of Chai but its a milk dish served hot just like Chai. Ghawa is an Arabic Coffee. It costed us Rs. 15 each and it was worth it. Ghawa is something that I have tried for the first time and I will surely have it again whenever I visit Charminar next.
Its time for India’s most loved and famous dish, Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani. Who could serve it better than Shah Ghouse at Charminar. So we headed over to Shah Ghouse. Our tummies were half full with what we ate and drank but we were still craving for Biryani.
The other branches of Shah Ghouse had better ambiance. The staff here were very careless. They wouldn’t attend to us even if we called them. This was a very dirty place compared to all the other places we were that night. After waiting for what seemed like ages, the Biryani arrived along with our Soft Drinks. As we were already half full, we forcefully finished up the Biryani. We couldn’t stuff anything else in our tummies anymore. The Chicken Biryani cost us Rs. 150. I have had better Biryani than this place from its very own branches.
If you want a Chicken Biryani, better opt for Bawarchi or Shadab out there. Shah Ghouse used to be the best but may be the standards have gone low now or it was just a bad day for the Restaurent.
For all the Malayalam movie lovers and Dulquar Salman fans, Have you watched “Ustaad Hotel”? If you have, you know very well about the famous Sulaimani Chai which appeared quite often in that movie. Yes, it is available near Shah Ghouse. Its next to a Paan store. It was time for Chai after Biryani, as the Hyderabadi’s do.
I had always wanted to try this Chai after watching that ‘Ustaad Hotel’. The Sulaimani Chai here had cost us Rs. 6 each. It was really refreshing after dinner. We were feeling the food come up till our throat after having Biryani, but after a glass of Sulaimani Chai our stomachs had lightened up a bit. It was very good and refreshing. Don’t forget to try one after your dinner, if you come to Charminar.
Visiting The Charminar and not visiting the Pista House would be a shame.
The building which you see in the picture is not a disco or a pub. Its Pista house. Yes, the place which reminds you of Haleem. People come from distant places to have Haleem here. This is the only place which serves Haleem 365 days of the year, and not just in Ramzan. But having Haleem in the month of Ramzan is different from having it on different days of the year. The Khurbani Ka Meetha is also famous here.
Now I’m going to tell you something shocking that you may start doubting my religion. “I AM NOT A BIG FAN OF HALEEM.” Yes you read it right. When I say this to people they reply with a quick “Are you really a Muslim?” I don’t know why people crave Haleem so much. I still don’t know the reason. I rarely have Haleem, and only just a spoon or two. I cannot stomach more.
We made a stop at Pista house for its Dil Khush. Have a Dil Khush here and you will definitely love it.
The exploring of “Streets of Charminar” came to an end. We ended it like every Hyderabadi ends its meal, with a Paan.
You should definitely visit Charminar if you are in Hyderabad. Don’t miss it.