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What After Paradise? 8 Best Biryani Places to Feast in Hyderabad

Paradise biryani and more—here’s where to find the best biryani in Hyderabad.

What After Paradise? 8 Best Biryani Places to Feast in Hyderabad

What would it take to convince you that Hyderabad is India’s biryani capital? Would a cumulative order of ‘13 million biryanis in a span of 12 months’ do it? In March this year, when food delivery platform Swiggy declared these statistics, the internet had a gala time. Afterall, everyone harbours a fondness for a good Hyderabadi biryani

Since time immemorial — the 18th century to be precise — the city’s love affair with the royal dish has been a well-celebrated one. Legend says it was Nizam-Ul-Mulk, the newly-appointed city ruler elected following Emperor Aurangzeb’s demise, who inspired the Hyderabadi biryani

The chef is said to have created almost 50 different versions of the dish, transcending the obvious chicken, mutton and fish versions to experiment with quail, deer, and hare meat. 

Through time, Hyderabadi’s fascination with biryani has grown. And not just the locals, but even Michelin-star chefs, famed food bloggers, celebrities and sportspersons love themselves a good biryani from… 

1. Cafe Bahar 

The scrumptious menu at Cafe Bahar left celebrity chef Saransh Goila in awe. The eatery has been serving authentic Hyderabadi biryani since 1973 and a defining factor has been the long queue of patrons eagerly waiting outside the entrance. 

Started by a Persian settler who moved to the city, Cafe Bahar is hailed as one of the most iconic spots in the city for a meaty fiesta. Along with their biryanis, the chicken tikka kebabs (meat roasted on skewers) and mutton boti kebabs are said to draw guests from across the world. 

So, when chef Saransh Goila had to decide his next meal whilst in the city, it was a no-brainer which place to head to.  

In a post on Instagram, he writes, “I still remember Cafe Bahar family teaching me that the secret lies in sourcing good quality meat and A1 chawal (rice). They layer the rice in the dum handi (earthen pot) step by step; the bottom is filled with pre-boiled rice (the top half from the boiler) and the top of the handi has pre-boiled rice (that was at the bottom of the boiler) This ensures every grain cooks evenly and finds its true potential.”

2. Hotel Shadab 

Hotel Shadab serves traditional Hyderabadi biryani
Hotel Shadab serves traditional Hyderabadi biryani, Picture source: Hotel Shadab

Perfect and inimitable. This is how many describe the biryani at Hotel Shadab, one of the best spots to feast on the dish. 

As the hotel mentions, “Shadab was established with only one dream — a dream to have people from different communities enjoy traditional Hyderabadi food, as a collective family. Shadab’s long-standing legacy and success are truly due to the vision and hard work of its founder Mr. Khaja Pasha.” 

True to its name which translates to ‘evergreen’ and ‘joyous’ in Urdu, the 71-year-old eatery serves a plethora of dishes; each an ode to the cultural legacy of Hyderabad.  You’ll be amused to know that the now multi-cuisine restaurant was once a spot where locals gathered over chai and Osmania biscuits (flaky, buttery tea biscuits popular in the city). 

The combination continues to be a popular draw.  

3. Paradise

Kehte hai agar Hyderabad aaye aur Paradise ki biryani nahi khayi toh Hyderabad aana bekar hai (They say if you visit Hyderabad and do not eat the biryani at Paradise, your visit was in vain),” this is what chef Sanjeev Kapoor emphasises in a video featuring him breezing through the city of Nizams, chronicling the best biryani hubs. 

The secret lies in a good formula, Dr Khazim Hemati, the owner of Paradise Restaurant explains to Kapoor. Over the sound of spices sizzling in hot oil in the background, Hemati shares the journey that the place has witnessed.   

What started as a hole-in-the-wall café in a cinema ‘Paradise’ in Secunderabad in 1953, turned into an eatery where residents of the city flocked for their fill of biryani in the early sixties. Since 1978, Hemati has been at the helm of things, and Paradise has expanded its operations to cities across India. 

The guest list has been coloured with visits from Dr Alexander Evans (OBE), British Deputy High Commissioner to India; Andrew McAllister, British Deputy High Commissioner to Hyderabad and badminton marvel, PV Sindhu. 

4. Bawarchi

Politicians, food bloggers, journalists and celebs, all find their common admiration for biryani at this spot in Hyderabad. Biryani is the signature dish here and the proof lies in the pudding — in 2019, food delivery platform Zomato released a report claiming that the joint receives over 2,000 orders a day, setting a world record. 

One of the most popular dishes is the chicken biryani with mutton and vegetable versions leading in tow. 

The eatery was paid a visit by food journalist and author Kunal Vijaykar who got chatting with Chef Salman Mansoori. The latter divulged, “We started with a bakery at first in 1994 but within the first 15 days, our biryani became very popular and we had to focus on that.” 

Mansoori emphasised that timing is of the essence in making a delicious biryani. “My staff can tell if the biryani is ready or not judging by the smell.”   

5. Hotel Nayaab 

Hotel Nayaab starts serving the breakfast menu at 4 am every morning and the main draw is the Osmania biscuits
Hotel Nayaab starts serving the breakfast menu at 4 am every morning and the main draw is the Osmania biscuits, Picture source: Instagram: Priyanshu Kumar

Finding the best biryani spot in Hyderabad is akin to embarking on a treasure hunt. But if the meat feast at Hotel Nayaab is the prize, we’re all for it. While it is the breakfast that got Hotel Nayaab to the top of the food charts of the city, the lunch too is phenomenal. 

Located in the Ghansi Bazaar area, a 10-minute walk from the Charminar, Hotel Nayaab necessitates you be there on time. The food is wiped off pretty quickly. 

Some must-haves are the nihari (a slow-cooked meat stew), paya (trotters of a cow, goat or buffalo cooked in spices), bhaji gurda (kidneys of lamb in a spinach-based masala), dum ka kheema (mutton mince cooked in a vessel) and the malai paya (a masala laden lamb trotter dish topped with cream). 

Started in 1986, the outlet soon rose to fame as the first to offer Deccani haleem (a stew composed of meat, lentils, and pounded wheat made into a thick paste) commercially. 

6. Adaa 

As food blogger Pallab De shares in an interview with Condé Nast, “For the moments when you want to splurge, there’s no better place than Taj Falaknuma Palace. The painstakingly restored 130-year-old palace hotel is magnificent yet warm and welcoming.” The blogger goes on to add that Adaa sees luxury blended with good taste. 

“The velvety patthar ka gosht (a dish prepared by heating lamb on a wide stone and serving it with spices) and the Hyderabadi kachhe gosht ki biryani (a dish where partially cooked rice is layered on top of raw marinated meat and the duo is then cooked together in an earthen vessel) are reasons enough to justify the expense,” he notes. 

“The biryani at Adaa is impeccable. The impressive technique is a given, but it’s the restraint and the balance of flavours that makes it one of the finest renditions of a culinary gem,” he adds. 

7. Shah Ghouse

The biryani at Shah Ghouse is prepared using traditional recipes and the spot features among the best in India
The biryani at Shah Ghouse is prepared using traditional recipes and the spot features among the best in India, Picture source: Shah Ghouse

The recipes at Shah Ghouse are a closely guarded secret. Biryanis and mutton curries here are sprinkled with a drizzle of their traditional special masalas, which render it their unique taste. 

Founded by Mohammad Rabbani, Mohammad Ghouse Pasha and Mohammad Irfan, the eatery organised a food-eating competition in 2008, which, according to an article in The Hindu witnessed 14 teams, each comprising two people, feeding one another three boxes of haleem within five minutes for a cash prize of Rs 3000. 

But these stories and the great food are not the only feathers in Shah Ghouse’s cap. The eatery was also featured in a list of ‘Best Biryani Hotels in India’ put out by the Wall Street Journal, USA.  

8. Biryaniwalla and Co

Food is a shared language over which guests at this historic eatery bond. Also known as BWCO, the eatery began as a modest café in 1980 led by a gentleman Ashtarian. One of the most popular dishes here since day one has been the Hyderabadi biryani made using premium basmati (long slender-grained aromatic rice) and specially blended spices. 

Even against the landscape of cost-cutting, the eatery prides itself on its aromatic biryanis, gratis saffron content. 

And one of the guests who thoroughly enjoyed the feast was MasterChef Australia’s Gary Mehigan. On his rendezvous through the city in April 2023, Mehigan stopped by and later took to Instagram to write, “Time to leave the ‘city of pearls’ Hyderabad but the memory of mountains of haleem and biryani remains. Sofiyani or white biryani is still my favourite but I figure one last post of our mutton & chicken biryanis @b.w.c.o is worth it. Can’t beat a mountain of chicken and fluffy rice with a big spoonful of lip-numbing chicken 65 on the top.”

Edited by Padmashree Pande.

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