Arabic food is turning out to be a hot trend in India these days due to obvious connection. GCC is home to around 7 million expatriate Indians. So their obsession with the Middle Eastern food comes as no surprise.

Little wonder then that restaurants serving Arabian food have sprung up in various parts of India, particularly in states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

And in some hotels, even the décor and ambience is arabesque. The Arab custom of sitting comfortably on the floor carpet and eating from the same large platter is also part of some of these restaurants.

(The Arab custom of sitting comfortably on the floor carpet and eating from the same large platter is also part of some of these restaurants.)

Shewarma, the rotisserie chicken/mutton warp, has already made a rage in India. Select star hotels in metros have a collection of delights to choose from Arabic food on their menu for a long time but are often too expensive for a commoner.

So, in the recent past, cashing in on the interest of people who love feasting on Arabic food, restaurants are rustling up Arabian delicacies in substantial numbers in places like Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Calicut, Bangalore, among others.

Hyderabad, which was once ruled by Muslims, leads in offering Arabic food to its residents and tourists. The historic city is also home to Hadhrami Arabs (from Yemen) whose culinary influences is distinctly visible.

Hyderabad’s old city area is a foodie delight with a good number of restaurants rustling up Arabian delicacies. Barkas and Yerrakunta suburbs, a 20-minute drive south of Charminar looks like a mini-Arab locality with hotel signage in Arabic greeting the visitors.

(In addition to the regulars like shewarma, falafel, grilled meats and machboos accompanied by khuboos and hummus, one can find Arabic salads like fattoush, tabbouleh and of course, mandi.)

There are many in the twin neighborhoods who trace their progeny to Hadramaut in Yemen, an Arab country. As one enters the locality, one is feasted with restaurant signs advertising mandi, a Yemeni rice dish cooked in a clay oven with lamb or chicken. Mandi has become an all-times favorite of such restaurants.

Sabyasachi Roy Chaudhuri, a food explorer and blogger, writes: “One of the Yemeni preparations, a dish which has become popular in Hyderabad is their traditional mandi. The authentic mandi in Arab countries is prepared in a pot, which is put inside a specially dug pit in the ground. However, most restaurants serving mandi in Hyderabad now cook it in firewood inside a usual tandoor.”

It is said that there are more than 30 restaurants that serve mandi along the six-km stretch that links Barkas to Shaheen Nagar along the Srisailam highway located in the southern part of Hyderabad. There are few select hotels also serving madhbi, which is meat and rice cooked directly on hot charcoals, which has a zesty smoked flavor.

(The tastes of Arabia have also invaded a vegetarian food favored city like Chennai.)

Kerala’s aroma

The aroma of Arabian food also waft across the state of Kerala, which is home to a major chunk of Gulf NRIs. Cities like Kochi, Calicut, Kannur, Thalassery, Thiruvananthapuram and other smaller towns have a fair amount of hotels serving Arabic cuisine or their versions.

Kuzhimanthi Biryani, similar to mandi, is a big hit in Kochi. City’s newly opened Cabritoz Arabic restaurant, with an Arabic ambience makes you feel as though you have been transported to an Arab land.

In addition to the regulars like shewarma, falafel, grilled meats and machboos accompanied by khuboosand hummus, one can find Arabic salads like fattoush, tabbouleh and of course, mandi.

The seaside city of Calicut also has a fair share of restaurants that has on offer authentic Arabic food. Ambling down the Kozhikode beach and its environs one can find a number of fast food joints and restaurants offering authentic Arabian cuisine to their discerning customers.

(Arabic food is also getting popular among the youth.)

One of the earliest restaurants serving Arabic food is the Al-Bake Arabic Restaurant on the city’s Mavoor Road. In the Malabar area (with Calicut as hub) of Kerala, mandi has replaced the traditional Malabar Biryani in many weddings and festive occasions. Though the menu is not the exact replica of the quintessential Arabic food, yet the taste is fairly close.

Dammam-based Syed Jamal, who is a regular at such joints during his India visits, says Arabic food is light on the belly. “The sprinkling of powdered dark-red sumac which provide a pleasant lemony spice and tastes especially good on meats such as shish kebabs and on salads enlightens my senses. I am a great fan of mandi. Though the taste here is not very authentic but nevertheless is fairly good,” he says.

Another traditional Arabic dish, kabsa, especially famous in Saudi Arabia, is also a favorite for many. Kabsa gets its flavor from a mixture of intense spices.

(Kuzhimanthi biryani, similar to mandi, is a big hit in Kochi.)

Mandi rice and kabsa have conquered Bangalore’s taste buds with outlets selling these and other Arabic dishes in several pockets of the city. Mosque Road and its vicinity in Frazer town have a string of Arabic specialty restaurants.

Says Shaad Hasan Damudi, owner of the famous Alibaba café and restaurant, Bangalore, said: “We serve popular rice dishes like kabsa, maqlooba and Egyptian koshari apart from Arabian grills, mezzeh and shewarma. Indians have developed a great taste for Arabia cuisine.”

The tastes of Arabia have also invaded a vegetarian food favored city like Chennai. Mashawi, a restaurant with a presence in Anna Nagar East and Park Town, is known for ouzi, a traditional Arab dish.

This traditional dish entails slow-cooked meat that comes with spiced steamed rice, boiled eggs and potatoes.

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Bengaluru, Aug 19: Former Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Monday said he was not afraid of any probe into the phone tapping allegations, as he accused the BJP government of running a "transfer business" in the State.

The JDS leader's statement triggered a war of words with chief minister B Yeddiyurappa's son B Y Vijayendra saying it was not appropriate to make "baseless allegations."

Yediyurappa, however, said he was not going to react to the charges.

"Why do you want to put words in my mouth? May God bless him. The whole world knows what he has done..," he told reporters.

It all started with Kumaraswamy's purported statement on Sunday that Yediyurappa had left his sons to run the 'transfer businesses' as reported by some news channels.

Taking a serious note of it, Vijayendra tweeted the clipping of Kumaraswamy's statement as it appeared in a Kannada news channel, which read that Yediyurappa has "let his son loose to run the transfer business."

"...You cannot pass the buck on somebody else for your deeds. Stop trying to mislead the people through falsehood just because you are scared of the CBI probe into the telephone tapping case," he said.

Vijayendra also tweeted links to news reports that claimed the then PWD minister H D Revanna had transferred 700 officials on a single day last year when Kumaraswamy was the chief minister.

Later, speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Vijayendra slammed Kumaraswamy for making "baseless allegations" against him and his family.

"It is not appropriate to make baseless allegations against me and our family. It does not befit his stature," Vijayendra said.

He challenged Kumaraswamy to make the facts public if he has evidence to back his claim.

"People have seen how during your tenure governance had collapsed due to the involvement of your family. People of the state have seen how 700 staff in the PWD were given promotion and transferred," Vijayendra said.

Reacting, Kumarasawmy cautioned chief minister Yediyurappa to keep his children "within their limits."

He alleged that the chief ministers residence has turned into a "transfer market" these days.

Speaking about the governments intention to conduct a CBI probe into the alleged phone tapping, Kumaraswamy said he was not scared of any probe because he did not do anything wrong.

However, he asked the chief minister not to fix innocent people only to take revenge on him.

Days after phone tapping allegations during the previous Congress-JDS coalition government surfaced, Yediyurappa on Sunday said he will order a CBI probe citing demands by several political leaders including from the Congress.