11. Biryani Pot
9386 Huebner Rd., Suite 109 (210) 561-8874, biryanipotusa.com
Hyderabad was once a princely state during British rule of India. These days the cuisine rules and it is typified here by Biryani Pot, a simple but colorful café near the Medical Center.
A good place to start is with the street-foody egg bonda, a hard-boiled egg that's dipped in seasoned chickpea batter, deep fried and lightly dusted with chili powder. Those wanting to turn up the heat can do so with the gobi Manchurian, a popular Indo-Chinese dish with a crunchy flour and cornstarch coating and a saucy, sweet-sour-spicy kick. More batter coats the individual kernels in BP's masala pepper corn — aromatic, addictive, and in need of nothing but restraint. Beer would be good here, but, it not being available, an unusually complex salted lassi, perfumed with cinnamon and cardamom, does the job perfectly.
Goat bounds to the fore in the entrée section with the earthy-herby house special curry, generously portioned, deeply red with chilies and only marginally bony. For a less assertive take on our favorite can-chomping scavenger, consider the creamy kurma with yogurt and cashews. The meat in this dish was less abundant, but the overall impression was of greater luxury. BP's fish curry with curry leaves and black mustard seed shows off the style of the larger Andhra region which Hyderabad is a part of.
And as it's in the name, a biryani: the chicken dum (the term refers to an ancient, slow-cooking technique for meats) is suggested for its impeccable, long-grain rice, moist, marinated chicken and delicate spiciness. The friendly staff can help newbies navigate other dishes such as the various masalas and kurmas as well as curries and kormas. A mild raita, not on the menu, can be supplied by the kitchen as an accompaniment to any of the above dishes. Go for it.