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INDIA, SOUTHERN

souring agent for meat dishes and dals. Another favorite is narangi, a sour citrus fruit, which is used to flavor var- ious dishes. The tomato too is often used to sour a dish rather than as a vegetable. In Southern and Western In- dia, ambada (roselle leaves), a kind of spinach with a dis- tinct sour taste, is another great favorite. Fresh or dried prawns, chicken, or meat cooked with ambada can be quite delicious, as is common dal soured with ambada. Sour berries called karonda (Carissa caranda) and sour fruits such as kamrak (star fruit or carambola) are also used to sour meat dishes.

Hyderabadi food can, in addition, be hot and spicy, another Telugu influence. Specialties include several dishes that are picklelike in flavor: chatni gosht (chutney

meat), achar gosht (pickle-meat curry), achar ke aloo

(pickle-potato dish), and mirchi ka salan (picklelike dish of green peppers and special herbs).

Chili peppers are used in Hyderabadi cooking in sev- eral ways—they can be chopped, ground into paste, slit, and deseeded, or an entire chili can be inserted in the dish. Certain red chili powders, especially those that come from the coastal Andhra region, have a flaming red color and a hot taste.

The procedure of seasoning, or baghar, is used in Hyderabad to great effect in order to infuse a dramatic nuance of taste into a dish. In baghar, food is seasoned by a process of dropping chilies, herbs, and spices into hot oil and then pouring that concoction over a dish while it is still sizzling. There are also exotic methods of sea- soning that are quite unique to Hyderabad. In a lentil curry called thikri ki dal, a piece of freshly fired earthen pot is broken, heated until red hot, and added to the dish so that the rich aromatic flavor of the earth is captured. Similarly, in a dish called kabab kheema (minced kebab), a piece of red-hot coal is deposited in the center of the cooking pan and covered immediately so that the kebab absorbs the smoke and flavor of the burning coal.

Certain spices that are hardly used in North Indian cuisines are rather commonly used in Hyderabad, quite obviously due to Muslim-Moghlai influence. These are

shah jeera (black cumin), khus khus (poppy seeds), magaz

(seeds of muskmelon and watermelon), and kabab chini (cassia buds). Another spice used very often in Hyder- abad, a South Indian legacy, is til (sesame seeds), which is scarcely used in the North.

A magical mix of various herbs and spices called bho-

jwar masala is indeed a Hyderabad offering to Indian cui- sine. It is used in dishes like baghara baigan (seasoned eggplant), mirchi ka salan (green chili curry), and mahi gosht (a meat dish), and contains a mixture of coriander seeds, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaf, groundnut, dried coconut, and a lichen with an exotic aroma curi- ously called pathar ka phool (stoneflower). Another mix of herbs and spices from Hyderabad and much more exotic is potli ka masala, thus named because herbs and spices are tied in a potli, a sack of muslin cloth, and placed in

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FOOD AND CULTURE

Sugar is an important agricultural product from southern India, where it has been grown for several thousand years. This shows workers processing sugar in the open air. © ENZO & PAOLO RAGAZZ-

INI/CORBIS.

the cooking dish. Potli ka masala is used mostly in nehari, a broth of pig’s feet and goat’s tongue, and chakna, a tav- ern dish of meat and organs. This mixture of spices is very different in taste and is literally an orchestra of fra- grances. It includes sandalwood powder, dried vetiver roots, dried rose petals, bay leaves, coriander seeds, black cardamom, cassia buds, pathar ka phool, gehunwala (a kind of grain), pan ki jadi or kulanjan (a lesser variety of galin-

gale), and kapur kachri (Hedylium spicatum).

Hyderabadi cuisine is more nonvegetarian than veg- etarian, but the repertoire of Hyderabadi vegetarian fare is also complex and indicative of a high level of cooking skill. Hyderabadi prefer rice to bread, although phulka and paratha are also eaten. An earthy Maharashtrian bread made from an Indian millet called jawari ki roti is very popular. Nonetheless, rice is overwhelmingly pre- ferred. It is said that nearly forty varieties of biryani are made in Hyderabad, including pulao. In Hyderabad a delicious mixed-vegetable biryani called tahiri is often served. It is said that throwing a handful of it on the ground in a spray will test the quality of a cooked biryani. If each grain of rice falls separately from the other and the grains do not stick together, then the biryani has made the grade.

Hyderabad is also a curry paradise. Broadly speak- ing, Hyderabadi curries come in five to six forms. One is shorva (or shorba), a thin, soupy curry with dumplings of meat and a vegetable, which could be potato, okra, some of the gourds, or colocasia, and soured with tamarind and

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