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A real taste of Hyderabad.

The Royal Indian Cuisine restaurant in Umm Al Hassam offers the island's food-connoisseurs the chance to experience a niche delicacy featuring one of India's favourite culinary traditions ... Hyderabadi cuisine. The restaurant, part of the Unique Concepts company in Bahrain, is a franchise of the renowned Indian restaurant chain Hyderabad House which was established in 1975 in the south Indian metropolis aiming at capturing the ethos, smells, sights and sounds of the historic city.

It is situated on the edge of the main road that leads up to KIMS Hospital and provides plenty of parking spaces in front of and around its premises.

Inside, the restaurant's walls are flanked by photographs of famous landmarks of Hyderabad, a city with a culinary history which blends influences of Turkish, Arabic, Mughlai and Tandoori cuisine with an array of local spices.

Biryani-lovers from across the country swear by the city's 'dum pukth' style of preparation, where the meat and rice are cooked in layers with hot coals spread across its sealed lid. The dish is served with salan -- a chilli curry cooked with coconuts, peanuts and sesame seeds as well as raita -- a yoghurt dip.

The restaurant's new menu features its prodigal biryani in a variety of flavours -- chicken, mutton, prawn, seafood, egg and vegetables. For those who like to explore other options, there is a list of other delicacies. The dum ka murgh -- chicken simmered in rich gravy is a delight. Accompanied with the roomali roti or the 'handkerchief bread', the dish is satisfying with the meat so tender, it melts in the mouth and the flavours so intense, it lingers pleasantly on the palate.

Other suggestions include the kareli ka gosht (a mutton dish), Hyderabadi mutton dalcha -- a lentil preparation with lamb, gula gosht, pepper/garlic fish, prawn masala as well as an assortment of kababs.

Vegetarians are also in for a treat with a list of authentic Hyderabadi dishes including the bagaray baingan -- eggplant prepared with coconuts, peanuts and sesame seeds soured with tamarind and Hyderabadi khatti daal -- a tangy lentil concoction.

For starters, an instant choice would be the lukhmi -- a crispy snack stuffed with minced lamb or vegetables and deep fried. This is considered a specialty of the Hyderabadi House.

The restaurant also offers guests the chance to request the maragh -- a rich lamb soup, which is not on the menu but made to order. After this feast, dessert is usually a tough call but not one to miss, nonetheless. Khubani meetha -- made of dried apricots and double ka meetha -- made of dried fruits and milk, are the two recommended must-haves.

Chef Virender Singh, who boasts 12 years in the hospitality industry, heads the kitchen and a team of six chefs. Hailing from Punjab, Chef Virender, 32, moved from city to city while growing up, following his father, an army man. He said: "I used to only meet, speak to and interact with army personnel. I decided then that I wanted to do something entirely different when I left home. I wanted to do something where I could meet people from different realms of society, travel around the world and learn new languages."

After school he enrolled for a hotel management course before entering the industry in 1998. Today, he has travelled to Germany, Oman, Dubai and now Bahrain and can speak five languages fluently -- French, Portuguese, Nepalese, Arabic and English.

Chef Virender, who now lives in Adliya, joined the restaurant four months ago after a five-month training period in Hyderabad to master the skills of the city's symbolic culinary fare.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 16, 2011
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