I think the cultural travel experience you should not miss is to eat the local food while traveling or even try different cuisine restaurants in your city. This is the story of my first trip to India which started my obsession with Hyderabadi Biryani.
We reached Hyderabad after midnight and stayed only for the weekend, following a series of wedding celebrations in the family. We stayed at the Westin hotel since I didn't book and never heard of it before, I didn't think much of it and my ignorance turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
This upscale hotel seriously deserves more buzz. The Westin is known for its bed heavenly. And the first thing I did when we entered to the room was to jump into the bed. Ladies and gentlemen, it was everything as advertised! I felt like I was jumping, and later sleeping, on the cloud. Also, I loved the concept of the glass window bathroom so I could watch TV while bathing (one of life goals).
The whole weekend, I spent ample time in the room, doing almost nothing other than catching up with my cousins, shared some family gossips and chillaxing.
The highlight of my stay; other than the wedding reception, hanging out with my family, amazing breakfast buffet, the hotel room and stocking up Indian kurtis; was the Hyderabadi Biryani.
Biryani is a mixed rice dish from the Indian subcontinent, which I used to dislike. Growing up, eating my mom's well meant, but failed attempts, to cook biryani, I have decided that biryani wasn’t for my taste bud.
My extended family found it weird, even borderline insulting, when I refused to eat the celebration rice dish; so if I had to, I usually put a small portion on my plate out of courtesy.
That was exactly what I did when I was offered the famous Hyderabadi Biryani, but it was so delicious that I immediately regretted insisting to share a small pot of biryani with my cousins. The rice was rich in flavor, the meat was so tender and the condiments were perfect.
That night, lying on the hotel bed, I dreamt about eating an endless supply of Hyderabadi Biryani.
I wonder whether biryani in India is equal to nasi goreng, one of the most popular local Indonesian food.
The next day we left Hyderabad, catching our red-eye flight back to Singapore, so we can go back to work the next day or in a few hours to be exact, but not before ordering room service from the hotel. Take a guess on what I ordered?
Next time I am in India, I am so gonna to take a Hyderabadi Biryani cooking class.