Walk down the road of the Hussain Sagar popularly known as Tank Bund road and what hits your senses is the whiff of aroma that is out of the world for meat lovers. The whiff is of mutton being cooked on charcoals on sheeks (iron rods) and a granite slab.
No gourmand can resist tucking into a juicy and succulent kebab. Several places in the city may be serving kebabs but nothing beats the rich and flavourful Bade Miyan Kababs that the non-vegetarians will drool over.
What Charminar is to Hyderabad, Bade Miyan Kababs is to the world of Kebabs. Such is the reputation of this 67-year-old eatery and its succulent kebabs that it is considered a food pilgrim for those who want to discover Hyderabad and its cuisine.
What makes Bade Miyan Kababs a legend? Does it represent any royal ancestry? Unlike the Hyderabadi Biryani or the Haleem, this quintessential Hyderabadi food has no royal link. This food is named after late Haji Syed Ismail, who was called Bade Miyan, the great grandfather.
Kebabs being prepared
Bade Miyan Kababs isn’t just the flavour of the kababs but it's also the history that makes the eatery so iconic to the city. After retiring from the Army in 1935, Bade Miyan sold kebabs in the old city at Machli Kamaan. Many Nawabs including Nawab Rasool Yaar Jung, Nawab Moinud Dowla, Raoof Baba of Zinda Tilismath , Babu Khan, father of ex-minister Basheeruddin Babu Khan etc visited.
Later to increase the footfall to his eatery, Bade Miyan came to sell Kebabs on a Kumcha (cane basket) at Tank Bund. During that time the meat was sold at Rs. 1.75 per kilo and the kebabs one anna per piece!
Roda Mistry, a then minister who was also fond of Bade Miyan Kababs, gave him a small shop at Husain Sagar Katta (Tank Bund) under a government scheme.
Haji Syed Ismail named it Bade Miyan Kababs and it's today one of the landmarks in the city for food lovers.
During winters and rainy season what best than a sizzling kebab straight hot from the burning charcoals onto the plate and savoured with aparantha or a rumali.
According to Ibn Battuta, the famous Moroccan traveller, kebabs were served in the royal palaces as early as 1200 AD when not only the royal households but commoners too enjoyed a breakfast of kebab and naan. Earlier kebabs were very elementary but there were the likes of Haji Syed Ismail who marbled the weave and waft of fat and mutton and made the kebabs succulent.
Three generations later Syed Shaji and Syed Mujahid, the great-grandsons of Bade Miyan, continue to serve the same kebabs, Mutton boti and patthar ka Gosht to the customers at their no-frill eatery.
The melt in the mouthpatthar ka gosht cooked on a stone slab with burning embers below and the mutton pieces on the slab. They also make a variety of chicken and fish kebabs, and special cold beverages likegoli soda in various flavours.
Even though things have changed for example a plate that once cost 0.70 paise, costs anywhere between Rs. 260 to Rs. 340 today-it has had no impact on the restaurant’s footfall; it is almost always full.
From Tollywood film stars to sportspersons like Sania Mirza to politicians and the common man alike this unassuming eatery attracts diners from all walks of life.
Syed Shaji says that their father had served kebabs at the Asian Games. He also served the kebabs at weddings and parties hosted by businessmen, corporate and celebrities in different parts of India.
Syed Shaji says they get fresh meat every day and mix the masalas at home which include thekebab chini, cloves, shah jeera, cardamom and other ingredients to chunks of mutton pieces or the pounded mutton (keema) to make sheek, and are grilled From succulent sheek Kebab to Patthar ka ghosht to Mutton boti to Chicken malai, chicken reshmi each dish has a rich unique flavour profile.Says Syed Shaji they do not wish to be fancy as they believe that good food will continue to attract customers. "We believe in giving good taste and do not compromise on the quality of food served at the outlet," he said.
These two young boys continue to carry the legacy forward of their great grand father by mixing the ingredients themselves.
So, if you're planning to visit, make sure you bookmark this list of must-try restaurants in the city. The food here is not just part of the journey, it’s the journey itself.