Ways with Tamarind in Hyderabadi cuisine

11/25/2015 Lokesh kumar 0 Comments

Located in the Deccan plateau of India is the trading centre Hyderabad, also known as the City of Pearls. Since the 18th century, when the Mughal Empire disbanded and relocated to the city from Delhi to enjoy its rich lifestyle, Hyderabad has enjoyed a varied and exciting cuisine.

The influence of the Mughal noblemen, who brought with them new flavours and ways of cooking, can still be seen in the foods of Hyderabad today. Northern Mughal influences such as kebabs, biryanis, kormas, pulaos and desserts merge wonderfully with southern Indian preferences for herbs, such as coriander and curry leaves, and the notably sour taste of tamarind.

In fact, tamarind is one of the commonly occurring ingredients used in Hyderabadi dishes. Originating from West Africa, the tropical evergreen trees that bear the tamarind fruit now also grow in India; but it is the dark brown, sweet-and-sour pulp from the pods that grow on the tree that is so cherished by the people of Hyderabad.

As well as this seeded pulp, tamarind in its dried form is used in a variety of spice mixes, broths, salads and marinades. It’s also added to gravies to add that distinguishable sour note to the dish. For those who are particularly mindful of their salt intake due to health reasons, it is reassuring to know that this extra sourness calls for the addition of less salt while cooking.

Supposedly an Andhra influence, sourness is arguably the single most defining feature of Hyderabadi food. As well as adding a tantalising flavour to recipes, it is also known to help with digestion and is good for our hearts, too – something else for the health-conscious among us to be pleased about!

Both green and ripe tamarind and chigur – or tamarind shoots –are the main sources of this flavour in Hyderabi cuisine, but there are some other ingredients that can provide a pleasingly sour taste. These include lemon, tomatoes, green mango, yoghurt, pomegranate, karonda and ambada leaves.

Something of an unwritten rule among Indian chefs is that it’s never a good idea for a cook to use more than two of the above-mentioned souring agents in one recipe. But in Hyderabad cuisine all bets are off, and sour dishes are welcomed by grateful diners as they are reportedly good for rehydration – crucial when living in the hot weather conditions of southern India.

If this has tempted you to give the sweet and sour dishes that have become synonymous with Hyderabadi cuisine a try, consider paying a visit to Amaya, one of London’s most highly-acclaimed Indian restaurants. While the people of London may not need the rehydration required by Hyderabadi citizens, that doesn’t mean they can’t get a taste of their food.

Amaya’s menus feature modern, innovative dishes inspired by the many regions of India, including Hyderabad, Goa, Kerala and Punjab. Its expertly-trained chefs can produce real Indian food that’s a million miles away from the usual curry house you will find on the high street, in a beautifully stylish setting.