Hyderabad: Indian on a Budget

Despite the rough edges, the fare is worth it

HYDERABAD HOUSE
1831 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
612.706.3292

Although named for a sprawling former palace in Hyderabad, an Indian city of nearly seven million residents, the northeast Minneapolis Indian restaurant Hyderabad House could hardly be more humble. It shares space with the wonderful Indian grocery Patel, and during a recent visit, a static-y TV mounted above half-functional strands of Christmas lights quietly broadcast Entertainment Tonight. Plastic flowers decorated the tables. The menu and posted hours weren't ironclad guarantees, they were suggestions of what might be possible in a perfect world. If you come to Hyderabad House, brace yourself for rough edges—and for some of the most delicious Indian food in the Twin Cities.

The chole puri ($4.99) are puffy little revelations. The soft, moist, foldable pieces of puri bread gently cradle a filling of mildly spicy chickpeas, tomatoes, lime juice, onions, and cilantro. This is one of those dishes that you taste, savor—and then crave like crazy 12 hours later.

The samosas are killer. Switchblade to the heart. The standard Indian restaurant samosa is a nearly fist-sized lump of lightly spiced potatoes crammed into an enormous fried wrapper. Faced with a mountain of starch, condiments tend to fight a losing battle against their bulky adversary. The somewhat smaller, flatter samosas at Hyderabad House ($1.25 apiece) have a more flattering filling-to-crisp exterior ratio and are accompanied by two perfect toppings: a seriously potent, cumin-y, cilantro-laced chutney, and a velvety yogurt, garlic, mint, and cilantro sauce that imbues whatever it touches with a soothing, creamy coolness.

The keema paratha (a rustic flatbread spread with a thin layer of chopped, spiced lamb; cilantro; and raw onions) was a delight at $3.99. With a bit of lime juice squeezed onto the meat, the paratha was reminiscent of the kind of small, impeccably flavor-balanced Guadalajaran tacos you might find at a place like Taqueria La Hacienda on Lake Street.

The classic Achilles heel of many rustic ethnic places is the meat-based entrée, and Hyderabad House is no exception to the rule. A chicken biryani ($5.99) featured sometimes-gristly chicken on the bone; the lamb korma ($6.99) was both tougher and gamier than you'd expect or want.

But with appetizers, lassis, breads, and vegetarian entrées of such exceptional taste (and value; expect to pay around $10 per person including beverage and appetizer), the journey that is Hyderabad House is worth the bumps on the road.

 
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