Hyderabad: Kaleem, an IT employee, had to come all the way from Hi-tech City to Shalibanda to check out if the much-hyped chai that is being served by Pista House is worthy or not. He did not return disappointed. “I loved this,” he said, sipping a cup of special zafrani chai at the popular brand’s outlet in Shalibanda.
This new addition to the menu, which made its entry in Hyderabad a few months ago, is now the reason for traffic jams as the queue doesn’t seem to end at all. Zafran (or saffron) is an expensive, but famous spice from Kashmir. It has been a part of food culture from almost centuries and is extensively used in Biryanis and other sweet dishes.
We all remember our elders holding zafran in closed cabinets as something precious. Interestingly, the chai is being served at the café at only twenty rupees.
The chai innovation—inspired by its Kashmiri counterpart—has, since the induction into the Pista House’s menu, found several takers.
The recipe, however, is different from that served across the country and is a Hyderabadi secret. Md. Irfan, the manager of the store, gives us a peek. “The milk used in the tea is first boiled with the zafran that specially imported from Kashmir,” he says.
“On an average basis about 250 grams of zafran is used to make 6,000 – 8,000 litres of tea every day,” Irfan said, adding that about 4,000 to 6,000 cups of the saffron tea are sold per day at different outlets of Pista House in Shalibanda, Malakpet, Tolichowki and JNTU.
A pickle seller, opposite the café, said, “The beautiful smell from the shop is mesmerizing; the kind of response and waiting is worth it. People come in thousands to drink it, and a few are seen coming almost every day.”
22-year-old Ajmal said, “I never had tea but I am having it as my friends recommended it. Agar ye chai nahi piya, toh kya piye miya?” He, however, wished it to be served in a matka.
Several other stores, including Kabul Darbar at Tolichowki, are also serving zafrani chai and getting a similar overwhelming response.