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Friday, July 12, 2024

Ek Chai Ho Jaaye


WOW! Hyderabad travels with tea aficionado Sameer Chandra to pin down our list of places for the asli chai experience

In a world where you can be anything, the Hyderabadis prefer to be hardcore tea lovers. Not one to settle down for the single origin Ethiopian coffee bean coffee, the Hyderabadis swear by their thick and sweet milky chai served in porcelain cups. WOW! scouts the city’s bylanes and even fancy malls to give you a definitive list of places to have tea, while also telling you why we think these places are iconic venues for this much-loved brew.  

Savoring Charminar’s Chai Charm

What: Nimrah Café 

Where: Near Mecca Masjid, Charminar Road 

Your Charminar journey isn’t complete without indulging in their legendary Irani chai and the delicate Osmania biscuits.

In the heart of Charminar, Aslambhai carries forward the rich heritage of Nimrah Café, a charming spot established by his father, Abood Bin Aslam al Katheri, in 1993.

In a hushed revelation, Aslam shared a nugget – the secret to Nimrah’s Irani chai isn’t just the ingredients; it’s the essence of “Hyderabad’s water.” Each cup, a unique sip of the city’s magic.

So, when you are at Nimrah overlooking the iconic Charminar, you’re not just having tea; you’re savoring a piece of Hyderabad’s history, one cup at a time.

Tel: 9333333396

Where Chai Meets Chaos (ade magikku)

What: Blue Sea Café 

Where: St John’s Road, Regimental Bazaar, Shivaji Nagar, Secunderabad

They serve Irani chai and the milkier and creamier Golden Chai.

Inside, it’s all about tea, puffs, and biscuits. Deciding between patti samosa and jam rolls can be a serious dilemma!

Ali Asgar, the second-generation owner, enjoys watching folks down tea like water, and they go through over 80 liters of milk daily.

Blue Sea Café’s menu remains unchanged since 1989, with classics like egg puffs and jam rolls.

Get sipping!

Where Slurps Speak Louder Than Words

What: Niloufer Café  

Where: Red Hills, Lakdi ka pul

Brace yourself for a sunrise surprise – between 4 am and 6 am, they serve the coveted Malai Bun at just Rs 60 each. Set your alarms, because missing this early morning delight would be like skipping a chapter in Hyderabad’s breakfast history! 

Niloufer serves strong chai in the morning to fuel your day and a mellowed-down version in the evening for relaxation. Don’t miss their iconic Irani chai, best paired with two biscuits. Their Bun Maska is the city’s finest, no doubt.

While many believe the Red Hills branch is the first, the true OG of Niloufer Café lies just 100 feet away from Niloufer Hospital. Established in 1978, this hidden gem is the real starting point of Niloufer’s flavorful journey.

Founded by Babu Rao, Niloufer now boasts of three unique outlets.  

For Hyderabadis, Niloufer is more than a café; it’s a bite of nostalgia.

“I would never serve a customer anything that I won’t eat or drink,” says Babu Rao. Sometimes, success is that simple. Don’t you think?

Tel: 84668 68670

Chai Steals the Spotlight 

What: Chai Kahani

Where: Sainikpuri

A Hyderabadi haven, Chai Kahani, a cozy retreat, embraces the essence of authentic chai culture. Amidst a sea of coffee joints, this rustic gem stands tall.

It’s all about the chai here – from rich Badam Chai to spicy masala and soothing ginger variants. Quality is the name of the game, making it a haven for tea aficionados.

A cup of Masala Chai may set you back around Rs 60, but it’s a steal compared to overpriced coffee disasters. Sometimes, they might miss the mark, but a friendly chat with the staff sets things right – just like it did for me.

Tel: 9866606706

The Chai Maestro of Rein Bazar 

What: Sajid Suleimani

Where: Rein Bazar

In the bustling lanes of Rein Bazar, there’s a chaiwala who’s not just famous for his brew but for his indomitable spirit. Meet Mohammad Sajid, affectionately known as Sajid Suleimani.

Despite a life-changing accident that took his hands, he’s renowned for crafting some of the city’s finest ginger and zafrani chais. Locals swear by his Zinda Tilismath infused Suleimani, especially during the chilly winters.

His doors open at dawn and keep the chai tales spinning until midnight. In Rein Bazar, Sajid’s Suleimani Chai is more than a beverage; it’s a heartwarming story of resilience and the undying spirit of Hyderabad.

Tel: 9666354158, 8801155997

Your Irani Chai Fix 

What: Persis Café

Where: Madhapur 

If you’re an Irani chai lover on the hunt for budget-friendly brews in the mad maze of Madhapur, Persis Café is where you should head to. I admit, I was sceptical too, until one chai-craving day, I took the plunge. Surprise surprise, it won me over! Now, it’s my chai-stop, especially for office deliveries.

Established in 1983, Persis Café is a family affair, and the chai-making craft has seamlessly passed through generations, ensuring consistent and authentic flavor.

A word of wisdom – visit on foot or bike. Parking’s a hassle!

  While I’ve become a chai fan, I’d skip the Osmania biscuits here. They’ve got their chai game on point, but biscuits? Not so much. So, stick to what they do best, and Persis Café will keep your chai cravings in check!

Their pricing, though, is music to your wallet’s ears – chai at a cool 25 bucks and six piping hot samosas at Rs 70.

Tel: 8919651920

Chetta, Oru Chaya 

What: Club Sulaimani

Where: LuLu Mall

Club Sulaimani in Lulu Mall, KPHB, is no ordinary chai haven, they’ve cranked it up to 51 varieties. It’s like Kerala itself poured into your cup.

What’s their secret? A magical blend of handpicked spices from Kerala. For those devoted to milky tea, there’s Saffron Milk Tea and the legendary Caramel Cardamom Milk Tea.

Yes, it’s a bit pricey, with teas starting at Rs 250, but remember, it’s a ticket to Kerala’s rich tea tradition, right here in Hyderabad. So, take a sip, and let the magic unfold!

Tel: 040 6911 1011 (Lulu Mall)

Spiced up to the Tea

What: Chowrasta Chai 

Where: Nexus Mall Lane, KPHB

Meet Narendra, the brains behind this cozy chai haven at Nexus Mall Lane, KPHB. After a few failed attempts at being his own boss, he finally hit the jackpot, introducing tandoori coffee and tea to the city of pearls.

What’s tandoori coffee/chai, you ask? It’s a drink with a smoky twist. They stash matkas in a tandoor for hours, then pour in half-boiled chai. The result? Freshly tandoor-kissed tea, served piping hot in a clean kulhad

But don’t stop at tandoori. The Ginger-Elaichi Tea is a spicy delight with real spices, not the usual flavor mixes. Here comes the best part! It’s all wallet-friendly at just around Rs 20 per cup.

Tel: 9032067736

Where Chai Met Art

What: Garden Café and Bakery 

Where: Opp Clock Tower, Secunderabad

Imagine the iconic MF Hussain, striding in with trademark barefoot flair, straight from Begumpet airport – a walk to satisfy his chai cravings! This is the charm of Garden Café and Bakery. One beautiful day, he graced the café in the presence of none other than Bollywood’s sweetheart, Madhuri Dixit. As she sipped on chai, it wasn’t just a tea break; it was a scene from a Hussain canvas, recalls Kazimbhai, the guardian of its legacy.

Nestled in Secunderabad, Garden Café and Bakery is more than a spot for chai—it’s a time capsule where history, celebs, and flavors blend seamlessly.

Kazimbhai narrates how his father laid the foundation for this iconic Irani Café. It all began in the 1940’s as a humble teashop, evolving into a bustling adda by 1953. Imagine the early 1940’s—British soldiers, enroute from the Cantonment to Falaknuma, made this their cherished pitstop for a tea break.

Here, chai isn’t just brewed; it’s an art. The milk, boiled to a rich, reddish hue, is added to tea decoction at the last minute, creating a sweet, velvety concoction. Sipped from porcelain cups or saucers, accompanied by crisp onion samosas or the beloved Osmania biscuit, every sip is a journey back in time.

The best time to visit is early mornings when the air is crisp, and the aroma of brewing chai welcomes you.

Do try their signature chai, of course, because if it was good enough for Hussainsaab, it’s good enough for us. Pair it with the nostalgia-soaked biryani tales, and you’ve got a plateful of Garden Café magic.

  You can enjoy all this goodness at a mere Rs 20 per cup.

What: Dheeraj Tea Stall: A cozy nook for tea in Journalist Colony

Where: Tucked on Road No. 70, right opposite Moksha Couture in Journalist Colony.

Indulge in the bold and aromatic Ginger Lemon tea, a sip of liquid sunshine. 

Meet Sikander Ray, this hardworking tea maestro hails from Jharkhand. A Hyderabadi for 15 years, he moved his chai wisdom from Miyapur to Mythrivanam and finally conjured up this delightful tea spot which is an actual hole in the wall. Elevate your tea experience with their scrumptious samosas; it’s a taste bud fiesta! And here’s the inside scoop: Dheeraj Tea Stall isn’t just a pitstop for caffeine lovers; it’s a hotspot for creativity. Assistant directors, artistic souls, and free spirits flock here. Director Vikram K Kumar is a regular, turning the streets into his set and chai breaks into impromptu brainstorming sessions. Join in the creative buzz of Journalist Colony’s hidden gem!

Tel: 6281148594

Text: Sameer Chandra Nandoori
(The writer is a podcaster, formerly a radio jockey and a digital creator in Hyderabad)

Photo credit for Blue Sea Café: Bharat aka @clickeatexploreyo; All other photos: Sameer Chandra Nandoori


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