Express press service
HYDERABAD: Potli food, locally called Potlam style food, has taken over the menu of many restaurants in the city. Not only do they look great on the plate, but they’re also bursting with deep flavors and textures. Besides the novelty factor of your food in edible potlis (bags), the presentation style has been a hit on Instagram.
We talk to the chefs in town, who say it’s actually an old, traditional style of cooking. They talk to CE about how this style is making a comeback and becoming a major trend for 2022. Shankar Krishnamurthy, Director of Fusion Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, says the old-school style of potlam or potli is an all-time favorite around the world. However, there are different versions.
“Anything that is wrapped – whether in banana leaf or silver foil – and steamed retains its taste and nutritional value. The food is juicier and tastier. When I started cooking 40 years ago, we cooked certain French dishes in buttered paper. We wrapped fish and vegetables in buttered paper and poached, grilled or baked them. Over the past 10 to 12 years, the Chefs have started using another method – slow cooking,” says Shankar, who likes to cook mushroom pastries using the potli style. It all depends on the casing, even better if it’s edible.
Explaining how to nail the edible casing, he says, make a paste with all-purpose flour or rice flour. “You can also use leaves such as banana, lotus or mango, which add flavor to the dish. Just keep in mind that the leaf you choose should complement the dish,” he says.
Anna Native, a South Indian fusion restaurant in Sainikpuri, has been delighting bloggers with their potlam-style dishes. Mohd Ismail, the executive chef, says: “This style is extremely diverse. You call it filling the potli with whatever you want – rice, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, etc. Potli is made from wheat flour, corn flour, eggs, and all-purpose flour. There is a wow effect when the dish is served and the guest opens the potli,” explains the chef. The restaurant is known for its Hyderabadi Potlam Biryani.
According to chef Shashank Arora of Forge, people go crazy over potli recipes because they are old. “It used to be done when they sealed the pot and cooked the dish. Nowadays, it is trendy again because people love its novelty. When you make biryani and put it in a potli, it stays hot and tastes great. There’s something called Japanese rice, which is basically Indonesian-style rice wrapped in an omelette. Sometimes people also use inedible potlis. In this style, the food is cooked over charcoal, which allows the flavors to better penetrate the dish,” he says.
Potli foods are the latest rage in Hyderabad restaurants. Whether it’s biryani, Chinese dishes or desserts, the novelty of this style of cooking and presentation is what makes a dish all the more Instagrammable. Chefs talk to CE about the trend