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Friday, April 02, 2004

Irani Chai!!!! :-)

This evening's post is an ode to the 'Irani Chai.'
The popular Hyderabadi Tea available in numerous cafes all over the city.
For those of you not from Hyderabad - Irani Chai is the popular and famous tea that is available Hyderabad cafes. Note the use of the words, popular and famous. Irani Chai is the chai that is liked by all. It has a unique taste that no tea vending machine can provide. Cafes are popular in Hyderabad. Cafes offer chai (Irani Chai), biscuits (not your Parle, Britannia ones, special biscuits - they're known as Osmania biscuits), alu samosa, chhota Samosa, pastry, dlikhush (sweet preparation, sort of jam & bun). A lot of cafes also offer south indian dishes and even Chinese!!!. There are a lot of cafes in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Almost each area has a cafe. I wonder how many cafes would be there in Hyderabad!

Discussing cricket over a hot cup of Irani chai aur samosa. Woh taste jo Irani Chai mai hai woh aur koi chai mai nahin hai. One never knows how time flies in a cafe.

I want to write about the waiters at the cafes. Most of them would not have studied beyond primary school, still they remember information about the customers.

There are ten customers and as customers go to the counter to pay the bill, the waiter remembers the bill of each person. To give an example, If you've had "teen chai aur do samosa" and another customer has had "ek chai" as soon as you reach the counter the waiter calls "payle ka pandra rupya baadme teen rupya." (Fifteen rupees from the first customer, three from the next). That shows that even if they haven't studied, they have a good memory and know the business. That is the way it is, in almost all the Cafes.

The taste of Irani Chai is the same whether you go in the morning, afternoon or late evening. The cafes have names like, 'Good Luck Cafe', 'Diamond Point Cafe', 'Begumpet Cafe', 'Rose Cafe' etc.

If I'm meeting an old friend of mine, I would anytime like to spend half an hour in a cafe, discussing life and times, over a cup of hot Irani chai aur samosa rather than go to Barista or Pizza Hut or some other upmarket joint.

In Pune and Bombay lot of cafes are closing down. In Pune, on MG Road, out of the two cafes (Cafe Maha Naaz), one closed down (almost two years back) and Barista coffee bar opened at that location. The one thing that you don't get in Hyderabad cafes in 'Maska-Pao / Bun-Maska', which is available in Pune and Bombay.

I'd mentioned Irani Chai, samosas and biscuits. In Hyderabad you ask for chai aur samosa, by default the waiter will get more than one samosa, similarly for biscuits, if you're alone, and order for "chai aur biscuit", the waiter would get four biscuits, if there are two of you, he would get eight biscuits. You eat what you want and pay for that.

It is the same in Pune. At Cafe Naaz on MG Road (Cafe Naaz ka samosa), you order for samosa and by default there are eight samosas, you eat what you want and pay for that.

I always have Irani Chai on my way to office. Now as my office has moved to Secunderabad, Cafe Diamond Point is on my way and I start my day with an Irani Chai. "us chai ka mazaa ki kuch aur hai." I don't know how they prepare the tea and how is it made at most of the cafes in Hyderabad, still legend has it that people from Iran came to Hyderabad and they bought the recipe for the tea and hence it is known as 'Irani' chai.

Chai honaa bole to 'kef' (that's what people say in Hyderabad for cafe) ka Irani chai.

Bye for now!

PS: Hey, you have your favourite Irani chai and Cafe musings, let me know. :-) Let's meet over a cup of chai, not chilled coffee!