Hyderabad is a hilly city and capital of the Indian state of Telangana. Sitting along the banks of the Musi River, the region is home to around 6.5 million people, making it the fourth most populous city in India.
Hyderabad cuisine includes a wide range of rice, wheat and meat-based dishes, and cooks use spices sparingly in the preparation of dishes. The Hyderabad Biryani is thought to be one of the most iconic dishes in Indian cuisine.
Beverages also play a key role in Hyderabad cuisine. The region enjoys a varied climate and so the locals have created an array of drink recipes to suit each season. These delectable drinks – which incorporate local herbs, spices and flavours – are served everywhere from street-side stalls to high-end hotels and restaurants. Indeed, these drinks are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
A staple beverage of Hyderabad is a sweet Lassi, which is essentially a drink made using buttermilk as the base. Lassis are popular across India, with each region boasting its own variety. The Hyderabad version is notably sweet and flavoursome due the addition of one ingredient: RoohAfza. RoohAfza is a highly-concentrated, rose-flavoured drink which contains extracts from a number of fruits and plants. Locals add RoohAfza to Lassi and enjoy as a chilled drink throughout the summer months. It is also a popular drink during the month of Ramadan, as locals find it to be both nutritious and energising when they are fasting.
Another popular drink is Faluda, which originates from Persia, now Iran. Typically, the Hyderabadi Faluda contains Kulfi (ice cream), rose syrup, tapioca pearls, vermicelli noodles and basil seeds. The rose syrup adds sweetness to the drink, while the basil seeds impart a unique, herb-like flavour. The addition of tapioca pearls and vermicelli noodles make Faluda an extremely filling drink; in fact, it is often enjoyed by locals in place of a dessert.
Similar to Lassis, Faluda is best enjoyed under the intense Indian sun due to the ice cream. Sometimes, the rose syrup is swapped for another sweet ingredient, such as saffron, chocolate or fig.
Years ago, many people in Hyderabad used to enjoy a drink called Gudamaba. This drink used sugar cane as a base and was flavoured with a number of different ingredients. However, quite shockingly people started to add ingredients such as methane and other chemicals to the drink, and so the government was forced to ban it.
As well as soft drinks, Hyderabad also produces a number of unique, intensely-flavoured cocktails, which can be found in most of the region’s up-market hotels and restaurants. Ingredients such as pomegranate, wild mint and jasmine flowers are used to create these cocktails – the most popular including the Hyderabad Mojito (made with rum, lemon juice, coriander, oranges, sugar syrup and lemonade); Pomegranate and mint Martini (made from pomegranates, fresh mint, lemon, tequila and sugar syrup); and Jasmine Sour Martini (made from fresh jasmine flowers, vodka, syrup and fresh lemon).
If you want to sample some authentic, exotic drinks – whether alcohol or non-alcoholic – you’ll find a good selection on the menu of one of London’s informal Indian restaurants.