The word Hyderabad, to the foodie, is synonymous with biryani. Rumoured to be the home to the best biryani in the world, Hyderabad is already a haven for food lovers. Then, of course, a trip to Hyderabad is also incomplete if one hasn’t tried Karachi Biscuits and Irani Chai, also specialities from the Mughlai community of the region.
What we are talking about today, though, are the sweets, savouries and pickles which are a speciality in Hyderabad and all of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh – the home-style food that completes every meal here!
Chegodi is Andhra Pradesh’s gem! Small, round, and golden, this versatile snack can be your best companion for tea time as much as when you want to binge watch your favourite TV show. Chegodi is addictive – it’s hard to stop once you’ve opened up a bag! Made with rice flour and topped with sesame seeds, enjoy the crunch with every bite.
A classic Andhra rice cracker which is undoubtedly one of the most commonly consumed savouries across the state. Made with rice flour and chana dal, Chekkalu is crunchy and flavourful throughout its composition. We Indians have the pleasure of housing several festivals and functions through the year, and Chekkalu is an important part of most of those occasions. Another advantage of Chekkalu is the long shelf life it comes with. You can take a piece of the city wherever you go.
This native dish of Andhra Pradesh is the spicy cousin of the sweet Gavvalu. ‘Gavvalu’ literally translates to shell, which is exactly what the dish looks like. The festival of Gokulashtami is never complete without offering Gavvalu to Lord Krishna as it is believed that it is one of His favourite snacks (after all, He bears a conch shell). Made with rice flour, rava and maida, the dough is mixed with chilli powder and shaped to resemble shells before being deep fried in oil for a crispy, crunchy finish.
Hyderabad is famous for its spice and unique flavours. Try the pickles – you will not be disappointed!
Gongura (sorrel) is a plant belonging to the hibiscus family, and is an ingredient that the Telugu people swear by! Not only in pickle form, gongura is quite versatile and is used in a range of other preparations as well in the Andhra and Telangana region.
Made with the tangy-flavoured gongura leaves, the pickle reaches its spicy, yummy perfection with a whole range of flavours from tamarind, red chillies, coriander, fenugreek and cumin. The most popular pickle in the region, it is usually enjoyed with hot rice and ghee, but also goes well with dosa, idly, and even chapathi. This authentic delicacy is undoubtedly a must-try during your visit to Hyderabad!
The tomato pickle defines Telugu cuisine in a single bowl! It is bright red from the combination of tomatoes and chillies, a perfect amalgamation that’s extra spicy, slightly sweet, little tangy and completely delicious. The pleasing aroma is at entirely another level, and is guaranteed to make you want to eat more than your usual helping at lunch! You need nothing more than a dollop of this pickle with plain rice and ghee to make yourself a hearty meal!
We’ve added our favourite pickle, prepared using jaggery, to this list of must-try foods when in Hyderabad. Bellam (jaggery) is a major part of Andhra and Telangana cuisine – a suitable balance to the chilli!
Bellam Avakaya is a sweet and sour pickle made predominantly from mangoes and jaggery. Its preparation is long and elaborate, and it’s usually the delicious result of a grandmother’s labour of love.
This pickle is freshly prepared every year in summer, the season of mangoes. Because of its long shelf life, we suggest you buy a bottle as you head back home from Hyderabad. Preserve summer in a bottle – all year long!
Enough savoury? Try something sweet – after all, you’ll need to cool off after all that spice!
Pootharekulu is known to have originated from Atreyapuram, a village in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. It is a wafer-like sweet with a papery consistency, and is best described when translated from its Telugu name, where “pootha” means coating and “reku” means sheet. Pootharekulu, therefore, is a sheet made from rice flour, coated with sugar and ghee. Often, it is also made into a roll and stuffed with dry fruits. Not to be prepared by amateurs as the preparation process is rather elaborate. No wonder it was once a food of royalty!
Even today, the making of pootharekulu is an art which not all can master. Check out some of the legacy sweet shops in Hyderabad, like Vellanki Foods, where this delicate papery treat is a speciality. We recommend the dry fruit pootharekulu variant.
Ariselu is a sweet exquisitely prepared with the perfect combination of jaggery, rice flour, and ghee. It is an important part of festivities in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana after the harvest season every year.
Ariselu is easy on the digestive system, making it a crowd favourite during functions and festivals. It is also garnished with poppy seeds to provide a crunch with every bite. With Ariselu, biting off more than you can chew might not be that bad!
The range of halwas in India is as varied as the people of the country! This jelly-like sweet is also one of the most versatile, because it can be made with flours, lentils, cereals, fruits or vegetables.
Bandaru Halwa is the halwa specialty of the Telugu people – prepared with wheat flour as the main ingredient and topped with a generous amount of cashews and other dry fruits. This sweet is guaranteed to melt in your mouth, and the occasional crunchiness caused by the dry fruits will only add to the delectable experience!
Another crowd favourite during festivals and functions, you can never go wrong with opting for a taste of Besan Laddu. Made from gram flour or besan which is roasted in ghee, the aroma of this sweet dish is sure to transport you to your happy place! Besan Laddus are also usually flavoured with sugar and cardamom, and have a long shelf life so you can enjoy it for a very long time.
Another advantage of Besan Laddu is how light it can be on your digestive system, without making you feel like you’ve had an overdose of extreme sugar.
Hyderabad is home to several authentic delicacies that reflect the culture of the Telugu people. So, the next time you visit the City of Pearls, make sure that you look beyond the biryani and don’t miss out on the best namkeens, pickles and sweets that it has to offer.
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