The city of Hyderabad serenades with its rich history, royal past and old-world-charm. It has been the seat of the fabulously wealthy Nizams (rulers) who were connoisseurs of art and good food. The royal kitchen is known for churning out delectable and unique cuisine, which remains much sought-after across the globe. So when we got an invite to try out some of the iconic Nizami dishes at the ongoing The Nizami Ramadan Repast food festival at Hyatt Regency Chennai, we just couldn’t wait to dig in.

On a rainy Monday evening as we made our way through heavy traffic, waterlogged streets and much chaos, it was the air redolent with the aroma of haleem, kebabs and raan that welcomed us to Spice Haat. While I haven’t ever had the chance to be in Hyderabad during Ramadan, I presume if we do take a walk around its streets during this time, it will emanate similar fragrances all around!

Unable to wait longer to begin our gastronomical journey, we started digging into a bowl of haleem. Rich, full of flavours and the perfect gooey consistency; I was in seventh heaven immediately. It was topped with some fried onions and few drops of lemon juice were squeezed in to add a hint of tanginess. The place is even offering a vegetarian haleem for all those who steer clear of meat and before you dismiss it completely, we suggest just have a spoonful. Prepared with vegetarian mealmaker, it is delightfully rich and flavourful. Definitely worth a shot!

This was followed by my favourite dish of the evening. Mutton raan slow cooked on charcoal and then prepared in a rich tomato-based gravy. I can sing paeans for it but it will just suffice to say the smoky flavour of the meat cooked in subtle spices and the rich gravy made us devour huge portions of the dish. The assorted kebab platter with melt-in-mouth murgh seekh kebab, mutton shikampur and tawa fish were a crowd pleaser. Everybody seemed to go for a second helping of these delicious starters.

For the main course, we opted for kache gosht ki biryani, mirch ka salan and dum ka murgh. It was love at first bite with the biryani, known to have origins in Mughal kitchens. Made from raw meat and rice that are cooked together rather than the other biryanis that are made by layering separately cooked meat and rice together, we were completely bowled over by the dish.

Chef Surender, who has curated the menu, informed us about the use of potli masala, which is unique to Nizami food and gives it the unique flavour and aroma. I also loved the humble biryani accompaniment-mirch ka salan.  Fried chillies dunked in sesame-coconut-peanut gravy with a hint of tangy tamarind are definitely something anybody can get addicted to. I was too! The dum ka murgh with rich and buttery gravy was a clear winner.

After hogging through the evening we had a teeny-weeny space in tummy for dessert but when you have double ka meetha and khubani ka meetha in the offing, you just don’t say no! The ghee-soaked, utterly sinful bread-based dessert triggered happy hormones and I followed this up with tangy and rich khubani ka meetha. What a sweet end to a sinful and delectable foodie-venture!

Do reserve tables at Spice Haat, Hyatt Regency for the festival. Call   044 61001234