Not many may be aware of it, but the fact is that a new breed of biryani specialists has emerged in the twin cities. (File Image)
HYDERABAD: Gone are the days when the best of Hyderabad’s unmatched delicacy, biryani, was made by a select group of families that continued the tradition for centuries together. The culinary skills are getting passed on from generation to generation, including by those away from such families.
Not many may be aware of it, but the fact is that a new breed of biryani specialists has emerged in the twin cities. These biryani bawarchis (chefs) are heavily in demand, all through the year. The wages they command are dependent on how tasty they can make the biryani. Of course, there are many native families in the city who have their regular chefs. Their services are sought whenever there is any occasion in the family and they are paid accordingly.
Today, there are some spots in the city where one can pick these culinary masters or biryani bawarchis. They include MS Maktha opposite Raj Bhavan; near Yousufain Dargah at Nampally or Shahalibanda near Charminar. All these are freelancers, who charge according to the size of the party for which they have to prepare. The minimum price for one-time cooking starts from a modest Rs 2,000 while the more popular ones are paid around Rs 70,000 as they bring along an entire team.
Syed Ahmed, a Hyderabadi biryani specialist from MS Maktha, who has been in the profession for the past five decades, says "I was 12 years old when I started to assist my master ‘Ustad’ Mohammed Hussain. His family cooked for royal functions. My first salary was Rs five per month." He said that those looking for genuine traditional Hyderabadi biryani hire reputed bawarchis.
However, these days many prefer catering services as they make economic sense, he said. Celebrity chef Mona Poordaryaei, who has come from southern Iran for research on authentic Indian cuisines, told Deccan Chronicle "Hyderabadi biryani has a unique taste. Mughals brought biryani from Iran.
However, the local culinary experts have redesigned and created a new blend of rice and meat, flavoured with spices." According to Dilnaz Baig, connoisseur of authentic Hyderabadi cuisine, "the new-age chefs are tampering with the taste of this delicacy. Moreover, the flavour of ‘basmati’ rice is not the same. Some three to four decades back, when a household cooked biryani, most from the neighbourhood would get the smell. It is no longer the case because of the basmati rice that is available these days."