2021 has been a year of experimentation and innovation, but the biggest trend of the year has been the increase of native
When a non-Hyderabadi hears the word Hyderabad, their mind is most likely to have an image of biryani, which is how the Nizamese city is synonymous with food. We have our own cuisine known and loved the world over for its unique blend of spices and cultures. While serving the best of ours, the city is also an ace at making dishes from other cultures and places. persian, south indian, north indian, northeast, chinese, italian, Thai, Mexican, French – you name it and we have it. From authentic flavors to fusions, Hyderabad is home to a variety of tastes and flavors.
Even so, the city’s food and beverage industry was hit during the pandemic, like most others. Even though food delivery apps tried to be a savior, there was little they could do. But the good news is the city not only survived, but thrived once the lockdown was lifted. From the biggest of restaurants to the smallest of restaurants, Hyderabadis has jumped in to do what they love to do the most: binge! However, health and hygiene being the top priority. Fear of Covid has prompted customers and restaurateurs to prioritize proper disinfection, which has come like a silver lining amid the pandemic.
2021 was a year of experimentation and innovation, crowned with success. With restaurants set to stay closed for a few months in the first half of the year, DIY kits have been a savior for many. Restaurants delivered marinated chicken, grilled meats, sauces, etc., to the homes of customers, who could prepare their food fresh and hot, and save the rest for later. The same idea also worked wonders for DIY cocktails!
Then the year saw the city flourish with several new cafes and restaurants featuring interesting themes and cuisines. From exotic France-themed pastry to simple, clean and green street food, the city has seen it all.
Echoing the city’s live and let live ideology, more and more restaurants have become inclusive and gender sensitive. Many of Hyderabad’s cafes today, old and new, are queer-friendly. The city has also seen an increase in pet-friendly spaces. Believing that our four-legged friends are a joy and not a hindrance, the spaces have hosted Bring Your Pet to Breakfast events.
But the biggest trend of the year has to be the rise of native cuisines. Authentic dishes from Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema have filled our hearts and bellies this year. Proving that Telugu cuisine goes beyond pappu and pachadi, restaurants in the city have deepened our culture to pick and concoct the rich, real, and raw flavors of our state. That said, some authentic cuisines, and not just fusion foods, have tickled our taste buds this year. We were more open to enjoying foods from around the world as they were – without having to add our tadkas and masalas!
Not to mention, Hyderabad has grown in leaps and bounds in the green direction. Established and new brands have proposed vegan food. Nonetheless, experts and bloggers believe Hyderabad has yet to get to where our metropolitan counterparts are, in terms of food. It looks like we are taking steps in the right direction, with people like Shaaz Mehmood, owner of Olive Hyderabad and partner of Olive Bar & Kitchen, elected as a member of the management committee of the National Restaurant Association of India.
What a trend
Masterclasses were all the rage during the second lockdown and beyond. Signing up for a cooking or baking workshop had become the new activity for many over the weekend, with several cafes, restaurants and cooking studios hosting these sessions. Led by culinary experts, these workshops introduced participants to a variety of cuisines and helped them learn the intricacies of the art of cooking.
Addicting melodies, fluid choreography, production values and an endless parade of attractive South Korean artists have placed K-pop on the international map. In fact, Korean popular music was so all the rage in Hyderabad in 2021 that it created curiosity and demand for Korean cuisine.
One for the ‘gram
Through the second wave, when we were all confined to our homes again, the culinary world began to live on social networks, especially on Instagram. From finely prepared dishes to gooey and messy desserts, photos of food have flooded the photo-sharing platform. Breakfast lunch dinner ; Hyderabadis was constantly posting photos of every meal
Taaza Kitchen, Madhapur
Social media was abuzz with articles on Taaza Kitchen in East Madhapur. Known for serving the best South Indian (read Bangalore) breakfast in the city, Taaza Kitchen has received only the best reviews. The place, in addition to its authentic taste, earned brownie points for its level of hygiene and affordability. Telugu brothers Vignesh and Raghavendra, who lived in Karnataka for almost 25 years, decided to bring the best of the taste of Bengaluru to Hyderabad.
New on the block
Sauce at home
If you’re a sauce lover and can’t finish a meal without it, Sauce On The House is the place for you. Located in HiTech City and Banjara Hills, this cool drive-in was the talk of the city for all the right reasons. You get unlimited sauces and dips with your food. Now, isn’t that happiness?
Little “chef” Smera
Eight-year-old “chef” Smera K wowed internet users with her pastry and icing skills. Her mouth-watering, detailed and artistic cakes seemed straight out of a fairy tale. She goes by @chef_smeracurrenyl on Instagram and enjoys a fan count of 45.8k
This Tellapur café has launched an initiative in which it brings together older people for a good meal and a nostalgic conversation. The project aims to connect baby boomers and help them tell their nostalgia. The cafe decided to do it every month
Success of Middle Eastern desserts
After shawarma and mandi, Middle Eastern desserts made their way to Hyderabad. Until two years ago, these were only served in a few authentic restaurants in Kabul, Istanbul and Arabia. But 2021 saw several restaurant chains in the city and even street seals selling Knafeh. Soft, cheesy and less sweet pastry, Knafeh or Kunafa, and mithai Baklava-looking mini pastry have become extremely popular.
The pandemic has brought to light the need for a healthy lifestyle, which means that there is no room for junk food, that is, fast carbohydrates. Hyderabad had several low-carb snack options to offer that were lip-smacking as well
This year the internet has gone crazy with live or checking internet users eating large amounts of food all at once. The trend, called “mukbang,” started in 2009 on the South Korean real-time internet television service AfreecaTV, but was made popular by YouTubers and Twitch streamers.
Niloufer Street in Lakdikapul was all over social media for its good old Malai Bun. To get a taste of it, you just had to arrive at the cafe at 3 in the morning. Creamy, smooth, a little sweet and salty, the malai is dressed in a teaspoon of sugar (some prefer a tablespoon) and is served with a freshly baked bun. Dip a piece of the bun into the malai and let the rare combination knock you out
outside the park
Bringing home a global trend, bakers have created waves by wrapping cakes with heaps of frosting, which when unleashed are pure magic. The trend involves a large cake, topped with buttercream frosting and topped with a center of suspended ganache. A sheet of plastic keeps it all in place. Once pulled it’s a tsunami of happiness
Gopi Byluppala, the culinary fair
Gopi Byluppala, the founder and CEO of The Culinary Lounge in Jubilee Hills, set up a program where he would teach aspiring chefs all the jobs, from cooking to relationship skills. His plan is to take 100 chefs under his wing as part of the project, which is the first of its kind to take off in Telangana
The Willow Bake Shop, Banjara Hills
This quirky hangout, which offered lip-smacking food and was a perfect chat space for many, closed its shutters in August. The shop was known for its ever-changing menu, with names that were too difficult to pronounce but easy to pronounce. There were 162 types of pies, including the Portuguese egg, and 50 varieties of croissants. People from all over town would take a table and spend hours chatting
At Babu Rao, Niloufer Café
Café Niloufer’s signature tea is the result of a master blend by the owner of the café, A Babu Rao, who this year offered three new tea powder formulas. Calling himself more of a blender than a businessman, Rao mixed more than 200 tea powders to make three new tea powders.
Chef Vikramjit Roy, The Tangra Project
Chef Vikramjit Roy brought to Hyderabad The Tangra project. Tangra is an area in eastern Calcutta that traditionally housed tanneries owned by people of Hakka Chinese descent. They are known for the famous Indo-Chinese cuisine that everyone loves.