There are couple of things that you ought to try when you come to Hyderabad (the cybercity earlier also known as city of pearls), the cuisine of Hyderabad is one of them. Hyderabad is famous for its Biryani pan-India but Irani chai doesnot fall much behind. There is an interesting story behind Irani chai’s origination in this region. It is said that Persian immigrants came to Mumbai’s port in last century and prior to that for better life and trade purposes. From Mumbai they migrated to pune and then to Hyderabad. Along with them came the concept of Iranian Chai.
The culture of Hyderabad has got so consumed by Irani chai that I doubt any other form of tea (chai) is made here. They say that the difference in Irani chai and rest of the tea style made in India varies in the making/ preparing process. The tea leaves are boiled in a separate container along with water and milk is also boiled in separate container. Then while serving to the customers they pour in first the milk then the liquid solution made out of tea leaves. This process is seen in many places which still retain that Iranian touch. However with the advent of fast life, things have changed in way of serving that the tea is already poured in a container, ready to serve. Then it is just poured out, no first milk and then tea leaves solution long process.
If you talk to the café owners about difference in tea style they say that Irani chai is very different from the tea you get in Udipi restaurants and darshinis. Udipis add 3-4 litres of water to every litre of milk. They pour milk, water, tea powder and sugar in the same vessel and as soon as the colour changes they take it off the stove. They don`t let the tea brew like they do in Irani chai making process.
The tea cost in the range of Rs 5-20 depending on the place of drinking. It is said that SD Road (Sarojani Devi Road) in secunderabad is a good spot to find all these cafes. Honestly, SD Road is no special; it might have been the place where the initial Iranian settler settled but now you can find Irani chai in many restaurants and the Irani cafes have given way of Baristas, Café coffee days and now starBucks is coming to town.
Though while travelling on SD Road, I did find certain bakery shops and the original Garden Restaurant established in 1952 (near the clock tower) which is very famous for Irani chai (atleast during the inception period). In the same very lane you can find café coffee day and subway providing competition.
Any trip to Hyderabad certainly goes unfinished if you haven’t had a sip of Irani chai, plus the whole Iranian angle does add a sense of exotica to it. Reaching the place isn’t tough if one wishes to go by public transport. There are buses which go directly to secunderabad and will land you on the door step. The location that any one needs to mention to reach SD road is the clock tower. Secunderabad as city is 200 years old and is also know as the twin city of Hyderabad (or more like a satellite town). It was founded in 1806 AD. Secunderabad was developed under the British rule and basic purpose for it was Cantonment for military purposes. Indian army and Air-force has a base there and it still continues to serve the purpose as a Cantonment.
Moving further I along with my friend went onto Paradise Restaurant which is famous for its Biryani, it is hardly 1 km walk from clock tower at SD Road. There too Irani chai is served as usual (like I said that Irani chai has taken over all the teas of Hyderabad and has kind of monopolized the region, though certain pockets of resistance do remain).
Secunderabad had a famous James street developed by the British for shopping purposes much like connaught place was developed in Delhi. Though James Street was wisely changed into MG Road (namely Mahatma Gandhi Road). It is still the hotbed of shopping in Secunderabad. On this very road lies the famous Paradise Hotel formed in 1953.
The traveling from SD Road near clock tower to Paradise restaurant is straight forward, there is a bazaar which comes in between whose name I was not able to gasp. They say about Paradise restaurant that it was established in 1950s, there use to be a cinema hall there. Over the years the cinema hall vanished and the restaurant business started to boom. Thereby creating a brand of Paradise Biryani.