Eatin' in The East: 5 Tasty Street Snacks to Try in Hyderabad, India
The city of Hyderabad isn't as well known as Delhi or Mumbai, but the burgeoning tech haven that is a bridge between the north and south, has a flavor all its own. Experiencing the street food of India should be at the top of everyone's itinerary. The flavors are complex and there are a plethora of options. Although you can find variations of the same snacks throughout different part of the country, Hyderabad has its own style and flavor that has to be experienced while visiting. Although the list of street foods in Hyderabad is virtually endless, below are five standouts that you are sure to love.
Also called golgappa in other cities, the process of eating pani puri is just as fun as it is delicious. This street food is a popular snack that consists of puris that locals stop to nibble on in the afternoons. The puris are flatbreads that when fired, puff up into little hollow spheres. Take the puri, poke a hole in the top of it with your thumb. Put the corn mixture inside, then dip the hole into the spicy flavored water to fill the puri then eat the whole thing. Be prepared for a spicy explosion of flavor that will leave you wanting more. If you stop on the side of the street to enjoy, you will get a tray with the corn mixture and flavored water and sometimes onions for extra flavor. By the time you are handed the next puri, you should be finished with the first. Indians can eat as many as 20 of the tasty spheres in one sitting. You may be a little slow at first, but once you get the hang of the process, you'll be eating them just as fast as the locals!
A huge betel leaf is washed, then candied fruit, coconut flakes, nuts, cardamom, fennel seeds and cherries are added, and the leaf is wrapped into a cone shaped and eaten in one or two bites. The taste is a sweet and minty concoction that is said to be great for digestion. In addition to helping digestion, the minty flavor of the betel leaf also aids in freshening the breath after eating.
In American culture, coffee is usually sipped in the morning while getting through the hustle and bustle of rush hour. In Hyderabad, you will find locals standing at tables, leisurely sipping the chai at roadside cafes. This is a time to relax for a few minutes during the workday and to converse with friends. Unlike most teas, Irani Chai is made by boiling down milk and a special tea powder to create the thick texture and sweet taste. You can find the best Irani chai in the older parts of the city where many of the traditional tea houses remain. Don't be put off by the look of some of the traditional tea houses; many of them are overly crowded hole-in-the-walls, but the quality of the chai is top notch. Don't forget to enjoy the sweet cookie, known as an Irani biscuit with your tea!
Candy Coated Fennel Seeds
At home, we chew gum or eat a peppermint after dinner. In many eastern cities, including Hyderabad, fennel is king. Grab a small handful of the seeds, drop them in your mouth, then chew to help freshen your breath and improve digestion. The candy coated fennel seeds are especially popular. Many street vendors sell the candied fennel in tiny plastic bags, and you can also find bowls of them at the registers of restaurants. Like the free peppermints at American restaurants, you can pick up a handful of fennel and chew on your way out.
Sugar Cane Juice
Refreshing and sweet, sugar cane juice is a must-try beverage. Raw sugar cane is pushed through a machine that squeezes all of the liquid from the stalk and voila! you have a refreshing drink that will help you cool down in the warm Indian temperatures. To be safe, always ask for a fresh cup (don't drink cups that have been sitting out already) and never add ice, as the water can sometime cause visitors to get sick.