Category Archives: Trivia

Steaks, the staple of the United States

I had been away from blogging for some time now, as my work has taken me to the other side of the world in the United States and quite naturally getting used to a new culture takes time. But, one thing I have been dying to try here is steak. This is perhaps the best American food can get, but coming from India, I have had my share of steaks but what you get here is a totally different ball game.

It all starts from breeding the cattle and feeding, rearing it and in the end getting a good marbling on the meat; which in layman’s terms means the distribution of fat in the meat. Also, coming here you get familiarized with different cuts of meat from cheap cuts like brisket to moderate ones like Sir Loin and Tender Loin going up to the prime cuts of the Rib Eye and Fillet Mignon. Also, there is a concept of dry ageing the meat which means the meat is left to age as bacteria slowly breaks down the muscle fibres which in turn results in a more funkier flavor. The prices of meat also vary based on the cuts and the tags given by USDA with the highest being the USDA prime. Even though the Fillet is considered to be the most expensive cut of meat, the Prime Rib is perhaps the most flavorful one that is out there.

The varieties are endless and a visit to a steakhouse really enhances the experience. Never have I ever tasted red meat so juicy and tender that they simply melt in the mouth. And I myself gave it a shot using the pan searing approach and was really pleased with the results.

Not bad for my first attempt! I hope to master the art soon and then will definitely share the way I make steaks. But until then I will savor these memories of perhaps the best meats out there and whatever else life has to offer.

Hyderabadi Haleem, a stew to die for …

As the whole Islam world celebrate the holy month of Ramadan (Ramzan) by observing month-long daylight fasting and breaking it with the evening prayers and Iftar, the Hyderabadis go one step further with consuming Haleem which is quintessential to the city.

Haleem is basically a stew made up of crushed wheat, barley, lentils (or daal) with meat and spices slow cooked for over 8 hours so that is all melts into a thick paste. It is usually served with ghee and fried onions. This stew easy easily digested and has high calories which provides instant energy, which is required after daylong fasting.

What was introduced into the region by the Nizams, slowly it has evolved into a delicacy which is enjoyed by people of all faiths during the month of Ramadan. Pista House are even known for exporting to USA and UAE.

Though primarily meant for Iftar, with the growing popularity all the big restaurants of Hyderabad make it a competition where they have countless volunteers to sell Haleem. There are awards given out and business booms like anything. Though usually served are chicken and mutton variants in most spaces.

Among the other variants I tried, Beef and Mashad Haleems are my most favorite ones. Though you have to go around the city to find them.

A value for money tasty stew that is slowly making a name for itself worldwide. This should be in one person’s bucket list if he or she visits the City of Nizams during the tie of Ramadan.

Mandi Blues

One of the best things I like about India is the diversity of the food that is served on your plate with the change in geography. Nowadays though, no matter where you are in the country you do have the option to have any type of cuisine available with the tag of “Indian Food”, no matter in which city you are in. But, during my tenure in Hyderabad, I came across something beautiful, delicious and unique which I had never come across which made this feel even more special. It is called Mandi, an Arabic word derived from the word nada meaning dew, reflecting upon the moist dew like texture of the meat.

Mandi is a type of biriyani served in a big plate of rice, topped with big chunks of perfectly cooked meats that are juicy and tender at the same time. The rice itself is very much flavorful with the garnishing of fried onions and dry fruits only adding to the taste. Usually it is served with three different salans (or curries) to enhance the dish and it does not disappoint. One plate is enough to fill three hungry souls, and the custom is to eat of the same plate. It is an amazing experience and something which I feel increases the bond between the individuals.

I did a little research and found that that it is quite common in the Malabar region of Kerala and of course, the Barkas region of Hyderabad. Though Mandi outlets have slowly started popping up in the newer part of Hyderabad. Yum Yum Tree  and Al Zaara Matbaq al Mandi  are couple of my favorite places in Greater Hyderabad when it comes to having Mandi. Ofcourse, there is Barkas in the old city where you will get countless places to have this beautiful dish.

I am sure with its gaining popularity in Hyderabad, soon new Mandi joints will start opening up in the rest of the country. So until that happens, next time you decide to visit the City of the Nizams and you have never had a Mandi, I suggest you gather all your friends and head out to a Mandi joint and left satisfied with a delicious dinner.