Hyderabadi Biriyani! That is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of food from Hyderabad. In addition there is Gongura Chicken, different kinds of mutton based on specialties from Rayalseema, kheema samosa, kheema naan and so many other meat-based foods that bring joy to meat lovers. But, this article is not about the non-vegetarian food of Hyderabad, but its vegetarian food, which is there in plenty. Last month, I braved 40 plus degrees along with my friend and we went on a tasting spree to explore the iconic vegetarian street food joints of Hyderabad. And boy did we have a blast!
If you are a vegetarian, a street food lover and are planning to visit Hyderabad soon, this is something that might interest you. You could also do a food walk as most of these joints are in and around the main attractions of the city. This list aims to be cover the entire gamut of food through main courses, snacks or tiffin items, drinks and desserts. Hopefully, it will appeal to people with different palate needs. Bon Apetit!
1) Ram Ki Bandi
Opening at 3 AM, Ram Ki Bandi’s two mobile food stalls is an absolute rage in Hyderabad and it regularly features in the top 10 late night traditional food joints in the country. They dish out everything from butter dosa, cheese dosa, pizza dosa, podi dosa, upma to fried idli. Personally, I loved their fried idli (an absolute sensation for the taste buds) and their podi butter dosa. Come late night, students, tourists and locals arrive in droves on their fancy motorcycles and expensive cars. By 5 AM, Ram Ki Bandi is doing such brisk business that you can simply stand and be amazed as you will anyways have to wait for your order. And by 7:30 AM, when the world gets ready to start its day, they run out of their supplies, close shop and go home.
Location: Next to Karachi Bakery, Nampally
Similar places: Govind Dosa Bandi near Mecca Masjid, Laxman ki Bandi, Pragati ki Bandi
2) Shahi Bakers and Sweets
It will take you a while to locate this place, but once you do, you will want to buy all their supplies. Run by a Muslim family from their home amidst a Persian garden like setup, Shahi Bakers and Sweets is not like your typical bakery. Rather, they are a home who only make a limited quantity of sweets every day unless they have received a prior order. Sitting in the verandah of their 85 year old home and tasting their Badam Ki Jali is like going on a momentary trip to heaven. Badam ki Jali is their specialty and my absolute favorite in the whole of Hyderabad. They make Ashrafi too and other sweets and desserts depending on occasion and prior orders. If you love desserts, you have to visit this place. This rare traditional dessert experience is a must-do in the whole of Hyderabad.
Location: Aziz Baugh, Noorkhan Bazaar
Similar places: None. They are in a league of their own.
3) Famous Ice Cream
Nothing more than a small shack from the outside, Famous Ice Cream is famous all over Hyderabad for its seasonal fruit ice creams. Be it fig, watermelon, custard apple, Mango or others, every single flavor of theirs is delicious. And as I had visited them during a heat wave, I ended up enjoying all their flavors. My favorite was the fig ice cream.
Location: Mozamjahi Market
Similar places: Bilal Ice Cream
4) Hameedi Confectioners
An iconic store that used to prepare desserts during the time of the Nizam, Hameedi confectioners on Mozamjahi market is the place to go for Jauzi Ka Halwa, Double Ka Meetha, Kubhani ka Meetha and Kaddu ka Kheer. Each one of their desserts is loaded with ghee, dry fruits and sugar, but as soon as you put a spoonful into your mouth, you are instantaneously transported to heaven. There own 2 shops on the same street, but the one located opposite to Famous Ice Cream is the old one.
Location: Mozamjahi Market
Similar places: None. Their creations are really something else.
5) Harsha Mess
If you feel like tasting an authentic Andhra Thali that can make you cry because of its high spice levels, you have to go to Harsha Mess, one of the best places in town for the Andhra Thali. Local Veggies, Pappu, Chutney, Podi, Ghee, Sambar, Rice, Papad, Rasam, Curd and more lip smacking dishes are served as part of their Thali. They also serve good vegetarian biriyani.
Note: This is not a pure vegetarian place.
Location: Opposite Maitrivanam, near Ameerpet
Similar places: Kakatiya Mess, Sri Kanya
6) Nimraf Irani Cafe
All Hyderabad foodies would have taken a picture of them holding a cup of Irani chai with the Charminar in the background. And to go with the Irani chai, you have fresh Osmania biscuits. This is one of the top food experiences of Hyderabad. Nimraf Irani Cafe, located right opposite Charminar is one of the best places to go for this iconic experience.
Location: Opposite Charminar
Similar places: Shah Ghouse Cafe on Shah Ali Bandar Road, Cafe Iqbal in Gosha Mahal
7) Subhan Bakery
Everybody knows about the famous biscuits of Hyderabad. But, most of them know it as Karachi biscuits due to the excellent marketing and reach of Karachi Bakery. While, I personally love their fruit biscuits, I prefer a different place when it comes to Osmania biscuits. And that place is the iconic Subhan Bakery located in the Nampally area of Hyderabad. They serve fresh hot biscuits that are so tender that they absolutely melt in your mouth. The perfect combination of sugar, salt, cardamom and butter make it a super hit for all tea sessions. And as Subhan Bakery doesn’t have to maintain a huge showroom and lots of employees, their prices are a good 25 to 30% lower. Personally, I think their quality is superior as you get biscuits straight out of the oven.
Similar places: Karachi Bakery
8) Cafe Iqbal
Bagara Rice with Mirchi ka Salan, Baghare Baingan and Khatti Dal as the main course and topping the palate with a cup of Dum ka chai is living like a vegetarian Nizam (if ever there exists one). If you wish to indulge in this gastronomical delight, head to Cafe Iqbal, who offers these and much more.
Location: Lad Bazaar near Charminar
Similar places: Shadab Hotel, Sohail Hotel
9) Munshi Naan
The traditional square breads from the iconic Munshi Naan go best with meat, but these breads are so fresh and delicious that they will absolutely go with anything. Be it a cup of Irani chai, a vegetable curry or a meat curry, there can’t be any better company. It was the Nizam’s munshi who made this bread famous and thus the name. A family run business, they produce the best naan. There are many others on the same street as them who produce similar type of breads, but if you wish for an authentic experience, head to the Munshi Naam store near Purani haveli.
Location: Near Purani Haveli, close to Charminar
Similar places: None. They hold iconic status.
10) Authentic Street Food Creations
This last one is not necessarily a food joint, but they are the small mobile stalls on the streets of Hyderabad. They serve everything from Hyderabadi lassi, Buttermilk, Goli Soda, Pudina Sharbat, Ganne ka Joos to simple Nimbu Soda. If you are going on a Hyderabad food walk, you will definitely need to stay hydrated and keep replenishing your energy stores from time to time. And there is no better option than indulging in these local drinks that are like specifically created by and for the city of Hyderabad.