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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Habibi Vibe in Hyderabad

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Arabian Nights

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Intro: For a touch of Arabia and its vibrant cuisine, check out HYBA  

If you can’t go to the Gulf for the long weekend, Arabia comes to you, literally. Almost, with the opening of HYBA, the new Arabia-inspired restaurant at Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre three weeks ago. It took the hotel months of research to give Hyderabadis something close to biryani and kebabs but with a twist.  

Regulars to the hotel will miss La Cantina, the Tex-Mex restaurant which has now shape-shifted to sport a chic Arabian look. Dressed in beige uniforms and the iconic red hat reminiscent of the Emirates cabin crew, the stewardesses usher you into the specialty cuisine restaurant done up in décor that echoes the cuisine. Run your eye around and you will find table runners with colorful tapestry, designer crockery and cutlery from Morrocco, soft throw cushions and florals running across upholstery and then presenting themselves on the wallpaper that greets you at the entrance. The music is distinctly Arabian and so are the aromas emanating from the plates. 

“We blended Indian spices with Middle Eastern spices like saffron, thyme, garlic and yogurt making the palate live up to its promise of leaving one craving for more,” says Chef Kailash Gundupalli. He recommends the Cold Mezze Platter a two-tiered crockery stand that gives one a taste of eight kinds of hummus from the classic chickpea one to meatballs hummus

But what we loved was the Beetroot Hummus with shrimp. It had all that we wanted the natural sweetness of beets, the creaminess of hummus, the nuttiness of tahini (sesame paste), the goodness of shrimp, and the zest of herbs. For a land that loves kebabs and biryanis, it was refreshing to eat this tender preparation. Then we moved to Kabab Kash Kash (a minced meat kebab with khus khus and spices) and Lamb Tagine, a speciality of Moroccan and Berber cuisines. Slow-cooked meats, vegetables and spices blended in to become a satiating rice treat. The conical lid of the dish in which it is prepared, typical of Morocco, was of course a conversation starter. 

As Chef Kailash spoke highly of the Kunafi Cheesecake, we did manage to get a piece of this artwork that put us in a food coma; a nice way to end a good meal.

Wow Pick: Meat Tagine

Meal for two: Rs 5,000

Novotel Hyderabad International Convention Centre, HITEX, Hi-Tec City

Tel: 040-66824422

Timings: 12 pm to 3.30 pm; 6.30 pm to 11 pm

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