Barkas is a largely arab dominated suburb of Hyderabad. The arabs here are mostly Yemenis who were part of the Nizams army. They were given the title ‘Chaush’ or palace officers. Barkas’s quite distinct from the ‘Old City’ and even Golkonda parts of Hyderabad. Lookwise, it might be similar to any lower middle-class muslim locality in Hyderabad. You’ll find the regular sighting of boys zipping ’round on their Pulsar bikes. Small kirana stores with a one-odd customer. Huge function halls lying empty. Probably meant to fill up only during a marriage. Mobile repair shops with lot’s of ‘em vella public. But dig a little deeper ‘n lo! It’s very very different. You can see a fair bit of men wearing their traditional futah or Yemeni sarong for men. Which’s like a lungi but worn differently. Not a single place serving the omnipresent biryani. In Barkas, it’s the Mandi and the Kabsa that rule. Not even the poor man’s Kalyani biryani. Barkas’s indeed an unforgettable experience ‘n has to offer many unique Hyderabad dishes that’re purely arab in pedigree.
This’s one of Barkas’s oldest restaurants. Started in 2005. It’s recently shifted to a swankier location. Which’s a great looking space. Neat ‘n clean but has managed to retain their original identity. The best part’s that this restaurant has no tables ‘n chairs. You’ve to sit on the floor. The food comes in a traditional big thal. Kept on small stools with everyone sitting around. This’s a true arab experience.
The mandi is a typical Yemeni / arab style of cooking rice in which the logs of wood’re fired in an underground pit. The rice in a vessel’s kept above. Covered with a mesh ‘n the laham or mutton’s put on top. The pit’s then covered with a lid ‘n mud on top. The rice ‘n the mutton cooks slowly over 2-3 hours in the residual heat. Resulting in an end product which’s soft, juicy ‘n falling off the bone. Outstanding stuff.
Mataam-al-arabi also has two superb desserts. The very arab Aseed ‘n the Hyderabadi Kaddu ka kheer. The Aseed or Aseeda’s a typical Yemeni dessert made from pounded wheat, jaggery ‘n khoya. It has quite an unusual taste ‘n texture. Kaddu ka kheer, on the other hand’s very Hyderabadi. Made from lauki or bottle gourd ‘n not pumpkin. For some strange reason, bottle gourd’s called kaddu in Hyderabad. This’s a light dessert ‘n quite tasty.
Details of the place
Address – Close to Erragunta x road, Besides Aarayash furniture, Pahari Shareef road, Barkas, Hyderabad.
Timing – 12 noon to 11pm.
Pricing – The Laham mandi’s priced at Rs.240. The Chicken mandi at Rs.150. Aseed at Rs.60 and kaddu ka kheer at Rs.30.
Phone number – +91 998524 1700, +91 9391153081
Location on Google maps
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About Chowder Singh’s street food guide
This guide has references to Chowder Singh’s favourite street food in Hyderabad and offbeat eating places along with photos and location on Google maps. Kindly note that Chowder Singh pays for all his meals. There are no listings against freebies or payment. And absolutely no going around looking for free vada pav. If you’ve been to Mataam-al-arabi or had any other unique Hyderabad dishes. Would love to hear your feedback. Either in the comments section below. Or please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy hunting unique Hyderabad dishes and chow-chow!