Hopping on to Hyderabad's 4am biryani trend

Most 4am biryani eateries open at around 2am and shut shop by 6am

68-Its-a-full-house-at-Masthi-4am-Biryani Foodies' delight: It's a full house at Masthi 4am Biryani | Satyanarayana Gola

While most people have 3am friends, Hyderabadis have 4am biryani for company. And, it smells like team spirit, for hordes of people—foodies, techies and locals alike—throng the numerous 4am biryani joints that have popped up across the city in the last few months.

With social media doing what it does best, the 4am biryani outlets need no other promotion. Countless food vlogs and reels have brought with them a sense of FoMO (fear of missing out) among those who are yet to join this pre-dawn daawat (feast). So, we, too, went on a nocturnal adventure to join the 4am club.

Our first stop was Sai Anna 4am Biryani, located close to Madhapur, the city’s IT hub. Many of these eateries have found a sweet spot in the IT zone, strategically targeting techies and corporate employees who spend late nights in office. Most eateries open at around 2am and 3am and shut down by 6am.

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Sai Anna runs his biryani business from a kiosk in an open area. As you near the kiosk, you smell the biryani before you see it. The biryani is cooked in huge vessels under Sai Anna’s supervision. “I come here once a week,” said Yashwanth, a startup employee. “This biryani tastes good only when eaten at this time. Try it and you will know what I am talking about.”

A plate of chicken biryani costs Rs200, and mutton biryani Rs300. The mutton biryani is essentially pudina rice cooked with medium-sized mutton pieces. A plate of chicken biryani consists of flavourful rice at the bottom of the plate, with deep-fried chicken pieces—cooked separately—on top. The flavours are unique, deviating from the typical Hyderabadi biryani, and the biryani is not too spicy.

A true-blue Hyderabadi never stops with just a plate of biryani, and so we headed next to Masthi 4am Biryani, which is quite a sensation online. While the menu is quite similar to Sai Anna’s, Masthi has ample seating and largely caters to families. The crowd swelled as the clock neared 5am. Here, the mutton was more tender, and the chicken packed an extra punch of spice.

A young couple was busy making an Instagram reel, while a couple of women were happily gorging on the biryani. “When the entire city is trying the 4am biryani, where’s the fun in missing out!” said Alekhya, an interior designer in her 20s.

We wanted to visit another joint, but the sun came up and the shutters went down. The 4am biryani was gone, and so were the biryani enthusiasts.

Burp! Time for burpees now.