Given the number of Sub-continent expats living in Bahrain, I have to say I’ve had some pretty dire Indian food on the island. So, when I heard about Hyderabad House, the new place in Um Al Hassam, I was keen to give it a go but, to be honest, not really expecting much.
First off, let me get the moans out of the way. It’s big and bright and felt a bit like a canteen but that was probably because we were the only people there – a situation I’m sure was influenced by my decision to turn up during Ashura.
It doesn’t have a licence, so there was no bottle of hops to accompany the food. And though that’s not a sin in itself, there was also no sparkling water which, for me, was a fairly serious omission.
Onto the food and I was quite surprised, for a restaurant which describes its fare as ‘royal Indian cuisine’, to find spring rolls on the menu. We left them there and went instead for the aloo channa chat and the oddly named chicken ’65.
The first consisted of cubes of potato and chickpeas with a blend of herbs and spices. Cooked to perfection, the main ingredients were firm but not underdone and accompanied by cucumber and a range of flavourings including coriander – a staple of Indian cuisine whose delicate flavour is frequently obliterated by the overzealous addition of chilli or curry, which was not the case on this occasion.
The chicken ’65 was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the curd-based sauce with a blend of fresh curry leaves and green chillis was one of the stand-out dishes of the evening, I’ll certainly be ordering this for delivery in the future.
As a main course I chose the pepper garlic prawns, a safe bet as this is a dish it’s hard to get wrong, and my companion went for the Murgh malai kabab which was a bit disappointing.
Described as being marinated in cream and aromatic spices and grilled on charcoal, it looked more like doughy lumps rather than anything that had been anywhere near burning coals and the taste, though not unpleasant, was sadly bland for a dish I expected to be popping with flavour.
My chum ordered tandoori gobi and I was glad it was she rather than I ploughing through a plate of overcooked radioactive cauliflower – each to their own I say. I was more than happy with the tandoori roti and garlic naan but she seemed quite taken with the bright orange vegetables even while coughing heartily at the somewhat fierce spice content.
Mid-dinner the boss visited our table to inform us that in a Hyderabadi restaurant it’s essential to sample the biryani, apparently it’s typical regional cooking and is something the restaurant’s very proud of. This has since been confirmed by a couple of Indian friends, so I’ve promised I’ll go back and try it in the future.
I’ll also be taking a run at the haleem – a Hyderabadi delicacy combining wheat and tender lamb finished with desi ghee – the dish takes at least eight hours to cook so has to be ordered a day in advance. The sikandari rann, seasoned leg of lamb much loved by the Mughal royal family, also features in my future plans. Can you tell I was a bit impressed?
The bill (for two) Aloo chana chat salad BD0.800 Cucumber raita BD0.300 Chicken 65 BD2.200 Murgh malai kabab BD2.200 Pepper garlic prawns BD3.200 Tandoori gobi BD1.500 Tandoori roti BD0.150 Garlic naan BD0.400 Small water (2) BD0.400 Total BD11.150