Tormented by the eternal search for the perfect plate, woken in shivering sweats at the possibility of missing out on greatness, I keep a detailed journal of future meals carefully ordered and planned according to mood, weather and degree that current form plays its part. In these car rides of folly, I have been prone to believing a well-intentioned souls exhortations about horrific eateries. I have been the victim of having the wool pulled over my eyes in entering well-rated establishments where food was only secondary to their need for self-glorification in the shape of trendy decor. I have retched in nightmarish bathrooms emptying the purging sins for eating at stalls where cooks neglected hygiene in the misplaced belief that "taste conquers all".
There must be a delicate balance between flavour and regimen.
Hyderabad Biryani House was read about in frantic night searches. Eager to not waste the precious hours of waking appetite, I made a plan to hunt this place down, and left my hotel room with vague notions of where it lay. Fifteen minutes later, after almost entering three different restaurants all named suspiciously identical names such as "Hyderabad Biryani Centre", "New Hyderabad Biryani" I paused for a moment to re-check the correct address (thanks google maps and 4G), noticing that the "real" place was just around the corner.
Finding it open, empty save for a couple of late night gorgers, and smelling divinely appealing, I grabbed a plastic chair and thrust my tiring frame at it. Chicken Biryani was the freshest by recommendation, a side of their Aubergine Curry was ordered to add some extra umami, and a 100plus for regenerative purposes.
As I waited barely 5 minutes for them to bring the food the owner seemed pre-occupied reading reviews online and shouting to his friend "5 stars yaar!". It bode well.
Having been privy to some spectacular plates of Biryani in my time, this came as a riding wave of bliss. Delicately fragrant, moist rice concealing a juicy chicken bathed in secretive blends of spices and herbs. The augergine curry was rich and decadent and oily in all the right ways. I didn't take my eyes off the plate until the entire thing had vanished almost as quickly as it arrived.
With smile to rival a Cheshire Cat I heartily shook the owners hand (pre-Covid), unleashed a barrage of pleasantries and was about to make my escape before he convinced me to write a review online. I informed him of my blog and he immediately wanted a photo taken, business card was exchanged, promises to return were muttered under the bruising knowledge that I was leaving the very next day, so that return would have to wait.
On the way home the streets took on a sad hue. The meal had been an utter triumph, but deep rooted in me was the knowledge that I was heading off to countries where this would not be repeated. My appetite for discovering new flavours and fantasies would have to be put on hold for the presumable future.
With a triumphal tear of utter culinary satisfaction, I sank into deep dreams of unearthly realms.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.