Savoury Stories: Mohd Zubair Ali

George Bernard Shaw once famously said that “there was no sincerer love than the love of food”, Hyderabad is it would seem, have applied this belief with the utmost sincerity.

Hyderabad is no stranger to good food – from rarer and more esoteric delicacies such as marag and paaya to the more ubiquitous haleem and biryani, the city has had a food culture that has been right there on top with the country’s (and perhaps the world’s finest cuisines). Just ask any Hyderabadi living abroad what he misses most about the city and Biryani is sure to feature in the long list of things that are so nostalgically recollected.

With the urbanisation of Hyderabad however, the city has witnessed a growing expansion of gastronomic needs. A large migrant population has demanded more than just biryani and as a consequence, the city has seen a massive growth in specialty restaurants, especially in the past 10 odd years. Hence finding the best place to eat in the city is like a treasure hunt! To simplify which, we put together a list of the best food bloggers in Hyderabad that you must follow if you never want to have a bad food experience again.

WARNING: Follow them on your own risk cause once you follow them your news feed will be full of drool worthy dishes which you won’t be able to resist

Text: Anahita Ahuja

Mohd Zubair Ali

When did blogging start?

2010 was the year when the food cupid shot its golden arrow across my heart and ever since then it’s no turning back. However, reviewing places and exploring food on social media began three years ago.

What are the basic elements you keep in mind while taking pictures for your write-ups?

Taking great photographs of food is a hard-earned skill. After all, that’s why some people are lucky enough to get paid for it. But it’s also a lot easier to hone these days. Details like composition, lighting, and styling, which apply regardless of whether you’re using a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR), a simple point-and-shoot, or an iPhone.

How much planning goes into each piece?

Depending on the style of the post and the topic, it would take me anywhere between 40 minutes to even 1-2 full days to complete my content. There are a lot of open notes and buffer content before finalizing the main output. If it’s a short opinion piece or a post on one of my areas of expertise, I can do a first draft of a 500 word post in 30 minutes, sometimes less.

What is the most interesting dish you have ever tried?

Ghuzi, a popular serve in Dubai restaurants, it can be counted among the pride holder food items of Dubai restaurants. Made from a whole roasted lamb served on top of rice, with vegetables and nuts. If you desire to get a core taste of Dubai’s food and taste, never forget to have a meal of Ghuzi ordered.

What are the three mistakes that you have made – and learnt from?

It is a fast paced industry. You tend to make a lot of mistakes and learn from it too. When I started my journey in Hyderabad’s food and beverage sector, I never gave importance to networking, social media activities and quality content. As time passed, it became necessary to focus on the aspects to make a brand out of yourself.

How do you pick what to order at a restaurant?

Comfort soul food is what I always look for when I visit a restaurant. Fusion and experimental food is not my cup of tea.

Do you enjoy cooking?

Let’s not go there (Giggles in embarrassment)! My mother had banned me from entering the kitchen.

Which are the blogs you follow?

Serious eats, Smitten Kitchen and Our food stories. Our food stories, the creation of photographer and food styling duo, Laura and Nora, is a dangerously addictive blog that will have you reaching for your apron in no time! Filled with gorgeous atmospheric photographs and recipes for all occasions – with an emphasis on cakes and pastries, this became my favourite blog in no time.

What are your favourite regional cuisines or specific foods?

You just cannot take out Hyderabad from a Hyderabadi! Can you? Bagara baigan, dalcha, double ka meetha, haleem, khatti dal, lukhmi, paya, tala huva gosht and Hyderabadi biryani to name a few are my regional favourites.

If you could have any four people, from anywhere in place, over for dinner, who would they be?

Emma Stone, Dr Charu Mathur (Food law expert), Roger Federer and Priyanka Chopra! It would be an interesting dinner that I wouldn’t want to end.

If you could just banish any one food, from the earth, what would it be?

Nothing, to be frank. Food is love! And everyone needs food and love.

How would you describe your site to new readers?

Hyderabad Food Diaries is a dedicated attempt to let the people know about Hyderabad’s F&B sector. From food festivals, menu launches to new eateries, everything being showcased under one roof.

Rapid Fire:

Favourite sweet ingredient: Nutella

When I’m feeling lazy I cook: I make others cook

My ‘pick me up’ dish: Laal Maas

For a romantic meal I would want to eat: Of course Italian!

On a winter evening I would eat: Spicy Tuna Roll

My most recommended restaurant: Gol Banglow at The Falaknuma Palace.