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Thursday, February 29, 2024

On the Foodie Trail: Winter Food Walks

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 WOW! went for some of these walks and shares insights from the experience 

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Every winter, Hyderabad’s amazing weather joins forces with the city’s delicious food, hoary history and glorious heritage to assimilate itself into what’s known as guided winter food walks. these walks are all the rage as you get to sample the local delicacies and learn about the food lore of the city while leveraging the weather. in about half a day, you get a slice of Hyderabad.

What’s the best way to experience Hyderabad? Walk and marvel at the city’s monuments. Get a passionate historian to regale you with tales about its history. Add to it the joy of being able to sample the local delicacies while understanding the origin of the food and why it is famous. Blending these elements – history, heritage, food and the weather – are the Winter Food Walks. Conducted over the weekends for groups and individuals, these walks are showcasing the city’s best elements in a nutshell. 

WHAT’S A FOOD WALK?

It’s a walk woven around the concept of food laced with history. Not just the history of the city, but also of the dish. Why is biryani so famous in Hyderabad? Who brought haleem to the city? Are Osmania biscuits really named after the last Nizam? Why drink chai at Hotel Grand, Abids, when you can also walk around (in the morning or evening) and understand the history behind this iconic Irani café? Food walks in Hyderabad take place round the year, but owing to the cold weather and the hot, spicy food in the city, winter walks are the most sought-after. 

THE EXPERIENCE 

These walks usually last for two or three hours with at least four food stops; they may not be more than two or four kms and less than 10,000 steps. However, it is the community walk that captures the essence of the activity. The walkers catch On the Foodie Trail: Winter Food Walks up with each other enjoying the sun, or they walk under the twinkling lights in the evenings which is a different experience. As most of them are targeted towards youngsters, the updates of the upcoming walks are shared on Instagram. The walkers register for the walks and the organizers share the itinerary on WhatsApp. 

THE GUESTLIST 

The crowd that goes for these walks is largely a young one. From the 40 people who signed up for a morning food walk at Begum Bazar, about 25 were from the IT sector who worked in Hitech City, Madhapur and Gachibowli. “I have been in Hyderabad for the last two years, but never really been on a detailed food walk which helped me understand the history of the city. I am a foodie, so this walk was ideal for me,” said Prajakta Yadav from Pune who works in Hyderabad. She has been on an evening walk before and loves the idea. 

Fun fact: The Iranis have black tea, but the tea at the Irani cafés in Hyderabad always is made by mixing milk with the decoction. Also, did you know that the Irani chai was introduced to Hyderabad to distract the public from toddy? The walks bring out such gems of history and that is the reason one should sign up for them.

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WOW! Hyderabad went for a few walks and tells you what to expect 

That Hyderabadi Boy

ORGANIZER: YUNUS LASANIA

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: 

That Hyderabadi Boy conducts several walks in Old City (some without food as well), but the Begum Bazar Food Walk on Sundays or public holidays is popular. It starts at 6 am at Hotel Grand, Abids. Yunus is an expert on the hotel’s history and tells us that the café in Troop Bazar (the market is now known for its electrical fittings) was started in 1935. “While the building has undergone several renovations in the last few decades, the façade has been left untouched,” Yunus reveals about the ancient landmark. 

“The kind of insights we give about a monument or an eatery is not found even on Google” – Yunus Lasania

He adds, “Did you know that there was an exodus of the Iranians from the Yazd province in Iran in the early 20th century to Hyderabad for economic reasons? Mohammed Jaleel Farook Rooz, the owner of Hotel Grand, says that when it all began, the rich Hyderabadis considered it to be beneath them to visit such cafés. In the later decades, the hotel installed juke boxes which became popular with the young crowd and it became cool to hang out at an Irani café,” he explains. He tells us how the Iranians don’t relish milk tea, and prefer black tea; but the Hyderabadis wanted milk in their tea. They retained the black tea in the Iranian manner, and added milk in a typical local style.

We then proceeded towards Mozamzahi Market, Begum Bazar and Gosha Mahal. Begum Bazar and Afzalgunj have a predominantly Marwari population who shifted to Hyderabad for work under Afzal ud Daula, the fifth Nizam. He also explained about Gosha Mahal being the palatial bungalow for the women of the Nizam’s family. It came as a pleasant surprise to visit the 75-year-old shop called Balakishan Milk Bhandar at Begum Bazar Chhatri. Still made in the old style by churning the curds, the lassi (Rs 60) was thick and satiating. 

The walk also throws light on the art deco buildings (two of them in Gosha Mahal) that were considered fancy in the early 1900’s. The buildings were built in the shape of a ship, airplane, car, etc. and were considered modern. The walk wrapped up by 9.30 am leaving the traveller to explore the Old City for the rest of the day. “The kind of insights we give about a monument or an eatery is not found even on Google,” says Yunus. 

Timings: Vary; check the Instagram handle @ThatHyderabadiBoy for upcoming walks 

Prices: Vary, but a morning breakfast walk from Grand Hotel, Abids, till Gosha Mahal is Rs 250 and Rs 200 for students (does not include food) 

Tel: 70322 03932

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The Hyderabad Walking Company

ORGANIZER: NAVIN SIGAMANI

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: It’s a three-hour food-tasting walking tour that covers local favorites and some of the best Old City Hyderabadi eateries. From kebabs to chaat and chai to lassi – the walk has something for every kind of foodie! 

Curated by Navin Sigamani, The Hyderabad Walking Company started in 2017 to bring well-curated experiences to folks who wished to explore Hyderabad’s heritage and food. Delivering storytelling tours to hundreds of guests from dozens of countries over the years has helped him hone his craft, to the delight of many guests. “We also organize the secret Ramzan walks which are a series of seasonal walks during the month of Ramzan. Many of the places we visit are pop-ups that are put up only during this time, and are usually known only to the local folks. That is the secret we will be sharing with you,” says Navin.

“Many of the places we visit are popups that are put up only during this time, and are usually known only to the local folks” – Navin Sigamani

The eateries and the itinerary change according to the season. Navin talks about the famous Kalyani Biryani – the beef biryani and why it’s called so. The Kalyani Nawabs hailed from Basav Kalyan province in Bidar which was ruled by the Nizams. They introduced the beef biryani to Hyderabad in their deodi to feed all those who visited Hyderabad and came to visit the Nizam for any petition. 

From the local take on the famous paya to melt-inthe-mouth kebabs, from different types of chai to the famous Osmania biscuit – participants get to taste at least ten different dishes on the walk. Besides tasting the food, they also walk through a restaurant kitchen and a local market from where the restaurants get their supplies. From the lesser-known facts to trivia on monuments, Navin covers it all during his walk. 

GUIDELINES FOR THE WALK 

• Announcements of the tours and details are all done on WhatsApp or Instagram groups. Check the hashtag #HyderabadFoodWalks to track down the famous walks in the city 

• Discuss the parking plan if you are driving to the starting point. Most of these places have poor parking 

• Wear comfortable walking shoes 

• Wear a light jacket or sweater as it can be slightly cold 

• The walks take place in spaces frequented by locals. So, expect crowds and noise and dress appropriately 

• The eateries are not fancy and the food is often cooked in the open. Most places do not have seating or bottled water. Plan accordingly 

• Most food walks will feature chicken, mutton, beef and fish. Vegetarians may not have too many choices. Discuss in advance with the walk organizer 

• The stopover list is shared earlier and keeping your questions ready makes the walk interesting 

• The places are not wheelchair accessible. However, it is easy to find a Metro station or bus within walking distance 

• The organizers confirm the trip only after the payment is made. They offer a full refund or rescheduling of the activity in case the walk gets cancelled due to poor weather or security issues (sudden law and order problems, if any) 

• Do not club any shopping even at Charminar as the walkers focus on food and history and don’t have time for such diversions 

• January and February are the best months for these walks due to the weather. This year, March and April too as it coincides with Ramzan

Timings: Vary, but typically 6 pm to 9 pm from Yousuf Tekri, Toli Chowki 

Prices: Rs 1,200 onwards including cost of food, sanitizer, bottled water, cold towels, entry tickets, etc. 

Tel: 77029 68885. 

Check @hydwalkingco on Instagram for announcements on the next walk

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Detours India

ORGANIZER: JONTY RAJAGOPALAN

WHAT’S IT ABOUT:

These are three-hour long walks in the city which help travellers explore the Old City area more thoroughly than when one drives around. “We conduct these walks if there are at least two guests participating. Most guests want to do a Charminar walk which covers important monuments like the Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace and the Laad

Bazaar market. We also have the Hidden Hyderabad Walk that explores the hidden deodis (large homes or havelis) of the noblemen of the past, interesting Sufi shrines and other lesser– known monuments of the city,” informs Jonty. 

Foodies should sign up for this Old City Food Walk which traces the evolution of the cuisine of Hyderabad including tasting local dishes like lukhmi (flat bread with filling), khushka (a cross between khichdi and biryani), haleem, biryani, mirchi ka salan, etc. The meeting point is the Charminar entrance and the walk ends somewhere around that area. Jonty can also take her guests to the homes of old Hyderabadi families who may cook a traditional home style meal with prior appointment. 

Apart from the above walks, Detours India is also going to conduct periodical special walks like the Ramzan Food Walk which falls in March and April this year. 

“We also have the Hidden Hyderabad Walk that explores the hidden deodis of the noblemen of the past” – Jonty Rajagopalan

Timings: Vary, but typically 11 am to 3 pm or can be customized 

Prices: Rs 1,000 onwards. Packages and inclusions differ from package to package 

Tel: 90008 50505. 

Check @jonty_detoursIndia on Instagram for announcements on the next walk

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The Deccan Archive Foundation

ORGANIZER: DECCAN ARCHIVE 

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: 

Known as “The Big Fat Hyderabadi Food Walk,” it is exactly what it sounds like. Lots of mouth-watering food as we walk across Nampally and Mallepally – historic neighborhoods of Hyderabad. 

“We start at 6.30 pm on the designated day and walk for around three hours. We will be walking slowly, and stopping frequently, so it will not be tiring. Also, we will be eating a little bit in many places – the total amount of food will be equivalent to a meal. So definitely bring an appetite,” says Mohammed Sibghatullah Khan from Deccan Archive. They have a walk scheduled for January 28. 

Timings: 6.30 pm from Nampally (may vary) on weekends 

Prices: Rs 1,499.00 + Rs 37.48 service fee 

Tel: 87128 37784 to call and 93478 86749 to WhatsApp

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Evening Hyderabad Street Walk with Biryani

ORGANIZED BY: FIVE SENSES TOURS PVT LTD  

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: 

This walk is conducted only in the evening (6 pm) and is supervised by a member of the India Food Tourism Organization. Over 2.5 hours long, the guests get to visit the best restaurants for the most famous local delicacies. On the menu is the legendary biryani, mouth-watering kebabs, Hyderabadi dessert and Irani chai with Osmania biscuits. The tour guide meets the group at Toli Chowki and walks towards Daulat Gulshan Colony for kebabs, a small hole-in-the-wall place serving Middle Eastern, Chinese and Indian grilled food. The tour guide talks about kebabs, the Hyderabad connection, the history of Toli Chowki and other vintage suburbs of Hyderabad, the Nizam’s love for this place, etc. 

The next stop, 45 minutes away, is to taste Double ka Meetha, Khubani ka Meetha and Rabdi. The food street walk in Hyderabad ends with a special combination of tea and Osmania biscuits. The tour/activity can only accommodate a maximum of eight travellers. 

Timings: 6 pm from Toli Chowki 

Prices: Customized, but typically Rs 4,402 (check with the organizer for latest dates and prices) including food. They also offer an EMI option for the food walk 

Tel: 80012 02588

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Traveljaunts Hyderabad Food Tour

ORGANIZED BY: HOOMA AND SUDIIP

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: 

The walk is a mix of private transport and walks in between. It begins at 7.30 am with a roti and korma breakfast similar to Hyderabadi households. The walkers then go to Jamal Market shopping complex and visit the Salar Jung Museum. Lunch is Mutton Biryani at 2 pm at Hotel Shadab. Walkers get to ask their questions about biryani or the recipes with the hotel staff. The group then proceeds towards Charminar and later, Chowmahalla Palace. In the evening, the group heads to Nimrah Bakery to enjoy their assortment of biscuits including – Osmania, tea and Chand biscuits. 

After a quick photo session near Nimrah (to capture the iconic Charminar in the background while you sip chai), the group reaches Kebab-I-Janhangiri for kebabs in the evening. The must-try ones are Sheekh Kebab and Tala Hua Gosht (both made out of beef). 

Timings: All day 

Prices: On request 

Tel: 76768 13665

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