Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Biryani

Avan is a bit of a foodie. Not that one would suspect it from Avan's famished looking frame. But that is the way it is. Well, guess Avan should count himself lucky, that he can tuck into plate after plate of the good stuff, and not let it show. He is not sure when he turned into a food lover, because his childhood memories are filled with those of being force fed all kinds of healthy stuff, that he did not want anything to do with. Perhaps, leaving home, and the subsequent decision to not consume anything that has green leafy vegetables in it, has something to do with the metamorphosis.

Avan's area of expertise and special interest within the gastronomic universe is biryani. A plate of good biryani accompanied by a beer is one of the easiest attainable forms of nirvana in his book. Beer of course needs a post all by itself, later. His hometown was not very rich in biryani matters. One of the half decent versions was to be found right across the road from the illustrious institute of technology there, that he (hardly) attended. But alas, it was nothing more than half decent. He had a stroke of luck in that the even smaller town where his roots are, is particularly rich in matters of the stomach. Many of the best makers and eaters of biryani in Kerala are to be found in this town. Perhaps the British, and other foreign visitors before them, dropped anchor in above mentioned smaller town, to sample the local delicacies. That such sampling led to some of the younger denizens of the smaller town becoming taller, fairer and light eyed, is purely Avan's hypothesis.

On the whole, it can safely be assumed that the roots of his affair with biryani, lie entwined with some of his other roots in the smaller town that is so familiar to us by now. Just when he had managed to extricate himself with minimum damage from the illustrious institute of technology, and thought a lifetime of biryani eating now lies before him, he found himself in the land of paneer eaters for two full years. The only biryani available was the vegetable kind and Avan would never stoop to those levels. His biryani longings would hit a peak on the long train journeys back home. It was one of those moments of intense longing that drove him to take a risk with the rather dubious looking chicken biryani from Shoranur railway station. Surprise surprise, the biryani was awesome. Just to make sure quality standards stayed up, he tried the Shoranur biryani every trip after that. As of five years ago, the chicken biryani at Shoranur railway station was definitely one of the better ones in Kerala. Avan is too far away to check out the quality now, maybe one of the readers can try it out and tell avan if the standards are still high. Sagar hotel in Kozhikode and Kayikka in Kochi, Avan shall sample your wares when he gets the chance. Perhaps the railway biryani will lose its Kerala top spot then.

One of the leading biryanis in India can be found in Bawarchi in the city of Nizams. Avan prefers it to the more famous Paradise biryani, to be found in the same city. The only irritant at Bawarchi is that the queue for your seat is three deep by the time you finish eating your biryani. Still, the taste of the biryani at Bawarchi refuses to fade. Bangalore seemed strangely deficient in biryani matters, except for Biryani Merchant. Biryani Merchant had a wide variety of biryanis, from all over the biryani consuming universe, but after an extensive, year long sampling exercise, Avan decided that variety is not a substitute for quality. But yes Biryani Merchant did introduce avan to the Awadhi and Kashmiri versions of biryani. The lack of a good biryani is about the only crib avan has about namma Bengaluru. Recently, Avan came to know that Biryani Merchant has closed down. Poor Bangalore!!!

Mumbai has its own version of the biryani, which, replete with potatoes, has never been to avan's liking. But the Berry Pulao at Britannia in Mumbai is a close cousin of the biryani, though sailing under a different flag. And what a cousin it is. The dish is supposedly a native of Iran and is spiced with sharply sour jerez berries. Avan has been planning to launch a full investigation into what these jerez berries really are. If you are in Mumbai, go to lunch at Britannia. And if Avan remembers right, it is only open for lunch.

The best biryani that has graced Avan's tongue yet comes not from any of the illustrious cities above, but from a Pakistani restaurant where he currently lives. Their goat biryani is proof that there is a greater power that guides all of us, but they make it just on Fridays. Every Friday Avan can be seen pacing around the restaurant, waiting for the biryani vessels to be opened. The chicken biryani too is excellent, but it is the goat that takes the cake!!! Avan will definitely miss this biryani when he returns to India.

- Avan

7 Comments:

Anonymous Aval said...

Slurrrp! Slurrrrrrp! ....

I have had Biriyani from Biriyani Hut in Trivandrum. The place was (may be part of it still is) someone's house and the lady would pass the man (who i assumed to be her husband) the biryani through a small window in the kitchen.

Hot and steaming and garnished with fried onions; but what kept me going back there for more was that they used minimal ghee and the rice did not stick together like inseparables. Sorry, but the smell of ghee makes my stomach turn. Which is why I am generaly skeptical of biriyanis.

But you asked for it! Next time, you treat me to some good chicken biriyani, OK? Slurrrrp...

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good biryani uses no oil and minimal ghee. It is very difficult to ensure that the rice is moist and flavorful when you use less ghee. So the less accomplished ladle out the ghee. And yes, one of the signs of a good biryani is that the rice does not stick together.

19 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

29 January, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

07 February, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11 February, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

14 February, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

15 February, 2007  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home