Aside from the biriyani institutions Shadab and Paradise, I ate at four more full-service restaurants while in Hyderabad. From least preferred order to most, they were:

‘Southern Spice’ in the Banjara Hills. I started with these very tasty quails, chilli fried.

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The bones are tender enough that you can practically crunch them up whole. I was sitting alone on the terrace and more or less did. Not as chilli hot as you might think.

Apparently, I felt the need to follow poultry with two more meat dishes, so I also ordered a paya (goat’s foot) curry and dry cooked mamsum (mutton, as designated in Telegu, the language of Andhra Pradesh. I’m about to make a couple spurious characterizations of the area, so I hope Sekhar will step in to correct me. Hyderabad, unlike AP, has a majority Muslim population, thus the city is known for it’s ‘mughlai’ cooking. Outside of the city, the state is mostly Hindu, so a mamsum dish (as opposed to a Hindi ‘gosht’ dish, e.g.) suggests a non-mughlai origin.)

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The mamsum burned my lips pleasantly and had a nice, coconutty aroma. Paya still challenges me. I love the marrow and happily sucked up the juices through the bone like a straw. I even love the soft bone parts, which are very pleasant to gnaw upon. (Lamb’s bones at home seem depressingly hard to me, now.) But all the skin and fat on the foot? I’m not feeling it. Give me a bowl of pho, and I’ll eat great, glistening gobs of fat, pillows of melting tendon and nets of chewy tripe spiderwebs. I will probably persist in eating paya when I visit India in the hope that somehow my tastes will transmute and I’ll come to appreciate them as greedily as I do pho.

At ‘Our Place’ I seem to have dined similarly. This prawn chilli fry was okay.

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But this mamsum was superb.

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I ate every morsel of the curry leaf scented meat with intermittent nibbles of green chilli, then sucked on the bones like lozenges. My photos of the restaurant itself didn’t turn out, but this is great place to visit if ambiance is what you’re after. It offers nightlit gardens, spacious halls and romantic interiors.

This next photo is merely of the condiments available with your meal at ‘Abhiruchi’ in Secunderabad.

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And by merely, I mean, who needs anything else? Bring on the rice. I put away two mountains of it myself, first with the vegetable dishes on my thali, but secondly with not much more than ghee and gunpowder, the dry, powdered chutney in the rear of the trio. Okay, with big dollops of the other sour-hot-spicy pickles, too, but mostly with ghee and gunpowder.

Here’s the thali.

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A soft, tomatoey dal, sauteed potatoes and a buttermilk based dish. I supplemented this with mutton, smartly.

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The meat was cooked in a soft, mildly sour puree of gongura leaves. Tasty.

The last place I visited was ‘Rayalaseema Ruchulu’. If I had more time, I would have eaten here again. I understand this was where I could sample goat’s head curry, but if I’m not feeling the feet it would probably be foolhardy for me to tackle the head. Anyway. Great food. After Shadab’s biriyani, perhaps the highlight of my little Hyderabadi visit.

This is just the front door.

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Here’s the soup you start with. (Did I just write that about Indian food?! Oh my.)

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Yup, more bone sucking goodness. You can see the marrow, what you can’t see is the excellent depth of flavor and body here.

The vegetarian portion of my meal included a millet bread, a pappadum and various stews, yogurt, rice and sautes.

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At one o’clock is my favorite, a generous portion of a savory peanut chutney. This constituted an entire side-dish in its own right if you ask me.

I put my hand in this photo so you can judge the size of this accompaniment. You will think it’s small from the photo, but it’s actually comparable to a common American orange.

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The menu called it ragi sankati (a sankati made from ragi flour) though it might also be known as a muddi. The subtleties and variations around this are beyond me, though you should at least be able to see that it’s a great, moist ball of the flour mixed with rice. You pull off bites of it, and mix it with, in my case, a pair of chicken and mutton curries.

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I really enjoyed my sankati, though the idea of a moist ball of flour and rice might be offputting to some people at first, I would heartily recommend trying them out. Healthy and delicious.

Now I most report some unfortunate business. It seems that also dining with me at Rayalaseema Ruchulu was The Very Important Man. I last encountered Him in Las Vegas, where He harried the dining room staff so incessantly that everyone else’s service suffered. At Rayalaseema Ruchulu, The Very Important Man was SO important I didn’t get a chance to order dessert. I’m still miffed about this.  While I tried to ask a question about the sweets, The Very Important Man snapped His fingers and my server disappeared. He flew across the patio, wringing his hands, to sate His Important needs. So, this is a small revenge, but as I sat without my dessert I snapped His Picture. Here He is, the Denier of Desserts. Can you figure out which one He is?

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