Wajidullah Khan/ Hyderabad
Hyderabad's Biryani is getting a tough competition from an unlikely entrance: Arabic dish 'Mandi' is increasingly becoming popular with food lovers.
So much so that stewards working in Mandi hotels here are extremely busy; have no time to get into small conversations with customers due to ever increasing footfall. Many Mandi outlets have come up in the city in the last two years.
Mohammad Manan Parvez, owner of Almondi Restaurant in Bahadurpur in Hyderabad, says, “Evening time is very important for us. A large number of customers visit our hotel in the evening. In the last few years, this dish belonging to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries has rekindled the taste buds of Hyderabadis. It has been added to the menu of many popular restaurants in the city. Now this dish has fierce competition with Hyderabad's famous Biryani. "
Has potential of become traditional food
One customer said, in the next four-five years, it can give tough competition even to Biryani. He adds, "Even the restaurants famous for Hyderabadi Biryani are becoming less in number."
Mandi has become a lucrative deal for restaurant owners. It costs Rs 400per plate, which is double the price of biryani but the quantity is good for more than two people. In recent times, the demand for this special dish has increased significantly among corporate executives.
The origin of the dish could be traced to the Bark region, where a large number of Arab families live. Their ancestors came to Hyderabad under the deccan regime in search of livelihood.
This Arabic dish is served on the carpet instead of the chairs
A large number of hotels have opened separate sections in Hyderabad, where the seating arrangement is traditionally different. This special Arabic dish is served on carpet, spread on the floor instead of chairs, so that people can sit around it and eat comfortably.
It has attracted a lot of Telugu people and youth, especially the corporators. Especially those who love eating meat. Residents of Hyderabad are very careful about the food they eat. Yet these days mandi is meeting up their standards. Most people in the Barclays area have made mandi their staple food.
How is mandi made?
Traditional mandi is made from meat, cloves, cinnamon, saffron and cardamom. Hyderabadi version is slightly different. Arabs do not like chili powder. But Hyderabadis mix many ingredients and spices like chickpeas, peanuts and green chillies. It is prepared in a large special oven, for which a large pit is dug in the ground. The soil around it is moistened. A variety of soups and sweets are also served along with it. It has become a favourite item among the younger generation and families.
Surge in popularity
About 7-8years ago, this Arabic cuisine was limited to a few localities, but gradually it picked up and became popular. Many special mandi-houses' have been set up in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Its popularity is so high that this dish is now being offered as an extra item with biryani in wedding ceremonies.
Syed Amir Abrar, owner of 'Al Saud Betul Mandi' located in Malakpet region, says, "The mandi is easily available in most of the food courts these days. We have seen many changes in the food industry due to this recession. Even people from other states who work here also enjoying this Arabic dish.
Mohammad Arshad Mohi-ud-din Hussain, owner of Muttayam Faisal Arab Food based in Hafiz Baba Nagar, said, “We are aware of this new trend. With the bygone days, the culture and food habits of the citizens of Hyderabad are slowly changing. If a person likes food, he suggests it to others. People are going crazy for this food, but it has to go a long way to over shadow the world-renowned Hyderabadi Biryani. '