Hyderabad: Food and Festivals

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Hey buddies! My last write up on Hyderabad highlighted the city's unique architecture and beautiful landscapes. This article is for the rich culture of Hyderabad. Here is an open love letter to the town where modernization and heritage, technology and tradition go hand in hand.

WARNING: All vegans, beware of the utmost love for animals ;)

Lumbini Festival

The three-day-long Lumbini Festival is an annual event in Hyderabad. It acts as a platform to commemorate the Buddhist culture and heritage.

Lumbini Festival is the perfect chance to remember the 2000-year-old past of Hyderabad when Buddhism was predominant. At this Festival, the teachings of Buddha are preached to the visitors. But this doesn't limit the event to a religious festival. When one visits Hyderabad during the Festival, they see stalls of handicrafts, local cuisine, works of native sculptors, painters, and artisans.

Deccan festival

The Deccan festival is one of the most popular festivals organized by the Department of Tourism. The 5-day event echoes authentic Hyderabadi culture, including Nawabi cuisine, Qawwalis, and Pearls and Bangles fair. The shining bright, colorful pearl jewelry, bangles, and other craft items displayed in the fair are a treat to watch. The Festival is basically celebrated to rejoice the reign of Qutab Shahi and the 400-year-old traditions of the city.

The festivals' primary purpose is to open visitors and localites to native beauty in all forms!


Bonalu is a Hindu Festival where Goddess Mahakali is worshiped. It is an annual festival celebrated in the twin cities Hyderabad and Secunderabad and other parts of Telangana state, India. Women prepare rice cooked along with milk and jaggery in a new earthen or brass pot, adorned with neem leaves, turmeric, and vermilion. They then carry these pots on their heads and offer Bonam, including bangles and saree, to the Mother Goddess at Temples.

A festival of significance is incomplete without authentic festive delicacies. The tradition of animal sacrifice is predominant during Bonalu. The meat is then distributed among families and is cooked traditionally.

Islamic traditions

The city is home to a large population of Muslims. As a result of which Muharram(the Islamic New Year), Mawlid al-Nabi(Prophet Muhammad's birthday), Eid-al-Fitr (The celebration concluding Ramadan), and Eid-al-Adha(the celebration completing Hajj) are all celebrated with utmost passion. An essential part of these festivals is the feast that follows. Here are a few iconic dishes:

Hyderabadi Biryani:

One cannot just think of Biryani without mentioning its best version from Hyderabad. Hyderabad is to Biryani what Hogwarts is to Harry Potter. Well, maybe that's why the city is nicknamed as the World Capital of Biryani. Predominantly cooked with either mutton or chicken and laced with delicious ingredients, every mouthful of Hyderabadi Dum Biryani lays out a staircase to heaven! Which also explains why Paradise is called so. Some people wouldn't mind having Biryani for every meal of the rest of their lives! Such is the craze.


Introduced during the Nizam rule and localized by adding traditional spices, Hyderabadi Haleem is a local favorite. In recognition of its fame, the Hyderabadi Haleem was granted Geographical Identification (GI) status by the Indian GIS registry making it the first non-vegetarian dish in India to receive the status.

Lakhnavi Galawat Kababs:

The word Galawat means "to melt in the mouth," which is precisely what happens when you eat them. Made from minced mutton and papaya paste, with traditional spices, the Lakhnavi Galawat Kebabs are in relatively high demand during the Ramadan month.


Having its origin in Delhi, Nihari is a stew slowly cooked with mutton and served with goat's bone marrow. Nihari is often eaten alongside Rumali Roti or any other Indian bread.

Kashmiri Mutton Tujji:

Kashmiri Mutton Tujji is a type of seekh kebab where the mutton is cut into small pieces, marinated in various Kashmiri spices, and then cooked on the tujj (seekh). These are served with chutney and special Kashmiri bread called Lawasa. These little heavenly bites melt in your mouth, and you can never have enough of them.


Sweets add an extra taste to any occasion, especially festivals. The famous Ramadan sweets include Shahi Tukda, Sheer Korma, Double ka Meetha, Khubani ka Meetha, and many more!

Special Mention

In a life filled with deadlines, assignments, exams, backlogs, peer pressure, and utmost chaos, the only solution is a cup of Irani Chai on a rainy evening. Unlike other Indian teas, Irani chai is made by the addition of 'mawa' or 'khoya', making it sweet and creamy. Every Hyderabadi knows, it isn't just a cup of tea, but a beautiful emotion, something coffee lovers would never understand!

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