The origin of the dish dates back to the reign of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

A man making chaakna in HyderabadAll images: Wajeed Ullah Khan
news Feature Tuesday, March 02, 2021 - 15:22

A large number of people are seen lining up at a shop in Hyderabad’s old city in the afternoon, eager to get their hands on chaakna, a dish that is growing in popularity among the city’s residents and attracting crowds. The dish is a spicy stew, often enjoyed with naan, made out of goat tripe — meat from the stomach of the animal — that is cooked with spices and mainly found in Hyderabad.

The owner of the shop, Miya Bhai Chaakna, Mohd Afsar, who has been running the business for several years says, “Gradually, this dish has become the identity and part of the food habit of the general masses of Hyderabad. They are very fond of it. This popular dish is available only in the old city area.”

Over the last few years, several shops selling chaakna have sprung up. Customers tackle the hustle and bustle on the busy streets outside these outlets while the staff rushes to complete the orders in time.

The origin of the dish dates back to the reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. The owner of ‘Dakhni Lazeez Chaakna’ of Moghulpura, Mohd Ashraf, recounts “It was apparently made for the Nizam of Hyderabad for the first time and he liked it a lot and thus it becomes a staple food of the Hyderabadi people and gradually, the popularity grew.”

How it's made

“We thoroughly wash the goat tripe thrice to kill any bacteria before mixing the much-needed 14 different ingredients, including cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, jeera, jowar flour, chilli, turmeric, salt and other spices. The cooking preparation goes on for at least three to four hours before it is ready to cook. A firewood stove is then used to cook it and it is served with naan. One plate costs around Rs 80 to Rs 100 and it is a spicy and mouth-watering dish,” Ashraf says.

Growing popularity

“Apart from suburban areas, a large number of people from the IT sector of Hyderabad also visit our outlet to have delicious chaakna. Many of the people who come here are regular customers who visit repeatedly. This dish is hard to cook at home as it consumes a lot of time and energy,” Mohd Afsar says.

“Apart from biryani and mandi, people are also choosing the chaakna as a dish to relish,” he adds.

The sale of the dish starts in the afternoon, and lasts for only around four or five hours.

“I recently came back from abroad and my priority was to have a hot and delicious chaakna on the first day back, as I missed this dish a lot,” Farooq, a customer tells TNM.

Another visitor, Amer, shares, “I prefer chaakna over biryani and mandi. Whatever be the lunch at home, I visit the shop to fill my belly.”

“It has become a part of our routine. I frequently take parcels home as well,” shares Zaheer, another customer. 

Wajeed Ullah Khan is a Hyderabad-based freelance journalist who writes predominantly on issues surrounding old city. He can be contacted at wuk040@gmail.com

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