This week my daughter GZ and I decided to stay in and order a takeaway from somewhere we’ve never tried before.Advertisement
We eventually settled on Flavours of Hyderabad, a small, South Indian restaurant and takeaway on Ribbleton Lane that recently opened in September.
What swung it was that, although the menu wasn’t extensive, it contained a number of dishes with which I was unfamiliar, so I added a couple of those to the mix.
It was late to arrive and when it was unpacked we found that it had all cooled enough to require reheating, which was a disappointing start. It also became apparent that there was way too much food for just two people, and probably enough to feed six regular adults or three Yvonnes.
I have a friend who makes an incredible lamb biryani, but he moved to Bangalore to open a restaurant, cruelly cutting off my supply. Since then I’ve been disappointed by a parade of meat and rice mish-mashes masquerading as biryanis, when they are simply a scoop of whatever generic lamb curry that’s lying around, dumped on a pile of cooked rice and mixed together ten seconds before they’re served.
They involve none of the slow-cooking, the layering of rice, and the particular mix of warming spices such as star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon – and to group them together is like comparing The Karate Kid to Mr Miyagi.
Flavours of Hyderabad’s lamb biryani (£8.99) was the real thing. It didn’t contain a vast amount of lamb, but what was there imbued the rice with every bit of its aroma and flavour. The visible dispersal of spice and colour in the rice was indicative of the traditional layering method that takes time and care, booting it off the list of anything I could be bothered to make myself.
It was a dry dish and didn’t come with a seperate curry sauce like many takeaway biryanis, but there were little pots of raitha and chilli chutney to add moisture, coolness and heat to preference.
The mildly spiced onion pakodi (£4.99 for four) were very similar to onion bhajis, but were flatter and gangly which, despite their whopping size, made them lighter and crispier than their round, heavy and occasionally doughy counterparts.
A portion of chicken pokod (£4.99) – described on the menu as “Bite-sized chicken fritters, marinated in spices, coated in chickpea flour batter, deep-fried to perfection. Deep fried green chilli peppers coated in gram flour batter” – was tasty without being hot, but they suffered from their tour of the microwave, and there weren’t any chilli peppers so I presume that was a separate item mistakenly added.
One of my mystery choices was a dish called chicken haleem, described on the menu as “meat-based porridge made with slow cooked meat, wheat and lentils”.
I know that the names of ingredients can sometimes get lost in translation. One memorable menu described a pig’s trotter as a tortoise. Another restaurant listed an item on the menu as small, green beepers. I had no idea what beepers were, but by the time the meal arrived I’d individually named them, bonded with them and vowed to smuggle them out of the restaurant and set them free in a forest. They turned out to be garden peas which could stay right where they were – the flighty, metallic-tasting time wasters.
I thought the porridge would be more of a dhal-type chicken broth that’s been thickened with a bit of flour, and I was spectacularly wrong.
It was literally chicken porridge. It looked, smelled, and tasted like chicken porridge. The restaurant wasn’t at fault; I’d ordered chicken porridge and I was given chicken porridge. Lots of it. There were mixed spices added and it was obviously slow cooked, but the consistency and combination of tastes just wasn’t for me. There was no setting this stuff free in a forest, it would refuse to get out of the car and nobody could make it.
Everything else that I ordered was top notch, and haleem is clearly a popular dish, so my dislike of it is just a case of “one man’s porridge is another man’s poison”.
My other wildcard was a dish called pulihora (£4.49), described as “A South Indian rice dish made with tamarind, rice and spices”. It looked like a portion of plain boiled rice with a few leaves in it, but was unexpectedly addictive. There were no aggressive spices coming through, just the beautiful fragrances and flavours of fried curry leaves and tangy tamarind. GZ and I both loved it.
The menu choice isn’t huge, but I’d guess that’s due to everything on there being made with absolute authenticity, most likely from scratch. It didn’t bother me as choosing between a few great dishes is infinitely better than choosing between 50 rubbish ones.
Despite my personality clash with the porridge I have no regrets about my small foray into the unknown, as it also introduced me to pulihora. I’ll happily buy again from Flavours Of Hyderabad, but next time I’ll swerve the chicken haleem in favour of one of the curries.
Have you had haleem? Tell us what you think of it in the comments.
Read more: We’re looking for our 2023 Switch On Star to light up Preston this Christmas
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines