I was on a trip to Tenali, in Andhra Pradesh, to visit a friend, and he insisted on taking me to this biryani joint in Guntur, which is about 30 km away. He also suggested that we go early in the day as the biryani over there “gets over very fast.” So, without much ado, we drove down to Hotel Subhani by noon.
Hotel Subhani is a shack-type of restaurant bang opposite the ITC factory, in Guntur. As you approach the place, you can see a small crowd gathering, and a large number of bikes and cars parked all over. When I entered the restaurant, I felt as if I had entered a busy market. A space having a seating capacity of about hundred was chock-a-block with double the number of customers, most of them standing and eating their biryani. There were yet more people outside, either trying to get in, or crowding around the haleem stall under the hot sun.
Five staffers continuously served biryani from a huge handi, and a waiter moved around the space, carrying around ten plates of mutton kababs.
The next task here was getting a seat. We elbowed our way to a table and waited patiently till people finished their biryani. Yes, you cannot wait here for three seats to be vacant, you need to grab them as they and when they are vacant.
The Mutton Biryani (Rs 240) was served in no time. It was a dum biryani, but much less spicy than its Hyderabadi counterpart. However, the hotel’s proprietary masalas gave it a very different flavour. On the table, there were three containers with salan, raita, and Subhani’s famous Gongurra Chutney. I just needed the thick chutney to go with the biryani, and it was polished off in no time. The mutton was well-cooked, and it came easily off from the bone.
Next came Subhani’s signature dish, Khichri (a variant of biryani rice) with Mutton Kabab (Rs 120). The kabab was essentially fried boneless pieces of mutton, again marinated in a proprietary masala. My friend told me that Khichri here sells at the rate of five plates a minute. In the background, I could hear a waiter screaming that the Mutton Biryani was over, and that the people would now have to make do just with the chicken variant. By the way, Mutton Biryani is only available on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
We met the owner of this place, Mr Subhani. He told me that he had started this place about ten years ago, and today he had people from Tenali, Guntur and Vijaywada driving down all the way to have lunch at his place. Apart from biryani, khichri and Mutton Fry, Hotel Subhani’s fast-moving items include Chicken Curry and Chicken Fry. Other delicacies from Andhra Muslim cuisine like Bheja and Gurda are also served.
Mr Subhani also wanted us to try out their haleem. He told me that he had started serving haleem regularly, and plans to do it throughout the year. Being from Hyderabad, I was not very enthusiastic initially, but agreed to taste a bit. However, the haleem turned out to be on par with the best places in Hyderabad, and I ended up finishing the whole plate (Rs 100). The owner also told me that Aditya Bal, chef and NDTV food show host, too, had visited his place recently for a shoot.
Meanwhile, the crowd outside had increased, and people were still jostling to get in. We thanked the staff and left. This place is not to be missed by any food-lover visiting Guntur, Tenali or Vijaywada. Hotel Subhani is a great place for trying out authentic Andhra Muslim cuisine.
This post originally appeared on foodaholix.in. The author is the founder of foodaholix.in