The Kalyani Nawabs of Bidar came to Hyderabad sometime in the 18th century. And set up their haveli in what’s today known at the Kalyani Nawab ki devdi. I first read about the Kalyani Biryani through my friend and food journalist Serish Nanisetti. One of the Kalyani Nawabs, Ghazanfur Jang married Sahibzadi Kamal-un-Nissa Begum. She was the second daughter of Asif Jah III, the third Nizam of Hyderabad. The Kalyani Nawabs were from the present day Basavakalyan, located on the fringes of the erstwhile Hyderabad State. After the marriage in 1802, Ghazanfur Jang set up his devdi or haveli near Shah Ali Banda in Old City Hyderabad.
In 1948, the Indian government took over Hyderabad State in what was named Operation Polo. Post 1948 were tough times for the nobles of the Hyderabad state. And many of them could not keep up their original lifestyles. Over time, the cooks working in the kitchens of these nobles left and took up jobs elsewhere or started their own roadside stalls. One such cook, Dawood started his own roadside stall selling biryani. The biryani was made with small cubes of beef, regular spices, onion and tomato. It was tasty and became famous over time. Sometime in 1950′s, Dawood set up a permanent stall behind the dargah in Murgi Chowk, near Charminar. He called the shop – Kalyani biryani, after the kitchens where his recipe came from.
Many people believe that the Kalyani biryani is the beef version of the Hyderabadi biryani. But it’s not. It has a distinct tomato, cumin, coriander seed flavour. And not as rich as the Hyderabadi biryani. Saffron and the other expensive whole spices that are essential to the Hyderabadi biryani recipe are normally missing from the Kalyani biryani recipe. Though the Kalyani biryani is generally known as the poor man’s Hyderabadi biryani. I like its unpretentiousness.
Dawood’s shop in Murgi Chowk is a pale shadow of what it used to be. He passed away some years ago ans his sons were running it. Post covid, I’m not sure if the shop is still there as I believe the area has gone under redevelopment. One day perhaps we shall see the original shop regain its former glory. The Kalyani Biryani is less popular than the Hyderabadi biryani and one has to hunt for places which serve this.
Happy hunting and chowder-on!