Come Ramzan and Frazer Town (Mosque Road and M.M. Road in particular) turns into the epicurean hub of the city. Delicious aromas come wafting through the air. With food stalls jostling for space it is truly a sight to behold.
One minute you smell biryani and the next you watch kebabs being simmered on coal grills. The giant tawas are heaped with different varieties of marinated meats. Large silos of curry beckon and tables are covered with an array of sherbets and desserts, all waiting to be devoured by the motley crowds who throng the area.
If you aren’t ready to indulge in the mains yet, starting your food crawl at Albert Bakery on Mosque Road is a smart option. From the mutton samosas and khova naans they’re most famous for, you could even help yourself to some brain puffs.
This year in particular, haleem (stew that includes wheat, barley, lentils and meat) craze has hit an all time high. People sample it from different stalls before deciding where to buy a cartload of it from to take back home. The mutton haleem at the Pista House (a Hyderabadi brand name) located in Fatima House on Mosque Road is impressive.
The stall outside Taj Hot Kitchen is thronged by people who are waiting to try out the kheema parota. And if you need a thirst quencher, at the Taj Tea House, you could have a lime juice, or even better, a Suleiman chai.
If you’ve been a Mosque Road regular during the festival each year, you would notice that the number of stalls has increased significantly. The stall that stood out in terms of its cleanliness, decoration (it’s a pretty white tent with fairy lights), culinary spread, as well as friendliness, was the Elements Heritage stall located just outside the popular restaurant.
Asif Mohammed, proprietor of Elements informs: 'We’ve actually brought the food we serve inside onto the street and we serve it at street prices.' But they haven’t compromised on quality; their portions of prawn are impressive and they’ve even used Philadelphia cream cheese in some of their desserts! Asif says: 'It’s the season of giving and this is our way of doing it. When we give, we want to give nothing but the best. The satisfaction that comes from feeding about 40,000 people from different parts of the city is priceless.'
Apart from the typical festive fare, they also have on offer barbecue chicken, Malabar prawns, Chicken/beef steak burgers, Lucknow ki kebabs, chicken satay, coconut rolls, tender coconut pudding and a range of soufflés.
When you take a left off Mosque Road onto M.M. Road, you cannot miss the piazza where a large number of stalls sell everything from imported dry fruits to camel sheek. Most of the bigger restaurants in the area have put up their stalls here.
If you thought Ramzan is largely about red meat and chicken, stalls that serve seafood are a pleasant addition to the fare. Ali Baba Café serves up nutritious soups and vermicelli biryani.
For those with a sweet tooth, head to the stall outside the recently opened Chichabas on the other side of M.M. Road for khubani ka meetha. The walking with attendant jostling is all part of the experience and we’re already looking forward to next year which is bound to be bigger, better, tastier!