Monday, July 27, 2015

Hyderabadi Biryani- ‘You give me reason to live’ (With respectful apologies to Joe Cocker) by K.J.S.Chatrath

I visited Hyderabad in January this year. While I told everyone that it was a trip for sight-seeing, the truth was otherwise. I wanted to get blown away by the famous Hyderabadi Biryani. The evening I reached I was tired and went to the restaurant of the hotel where I was staying- Ashoka Best Western at Lakdi Ka Pul (the wooden bridge). The Biryani (photos above) turned out to be just excellent.

Biryani is a dish of Indian origin, specifically considered to be dish of Nizam (Ruler of the erstwhile State of Hyderabad. Deccan). Hyderabadi biryani originated after blending of Mughlai and Iranian cuisine in the kitchens of the Nizam. Hyderabadi Biryani is of two types: the Kachchi (raw) Biryani, and the Pakki (cooked) Biryani.

The Kachchi biryani is prepared with meat marinated with spices overnight and then soaked in yogurt before cooking. The gosht (meat) is sandwiched between layers of fragrant long-grained basmati rice,[6] and cooked on dum (steaming over coals), after sealing the handi (vessel) with dough. This is a challenging process as it requires meticulous attention to time and temperature to avoid over- or under-cooking the meat.

In a Pakki biryani, the meat is marinated for a shorter time, and cooked before being layered with the rice and cooked in a dough-sealed vessel. In Pakki Aqni (with cooked gravy), the ingredients are cooked before baking.

The gravy is enriched with mace, ittar and kewra. Saffron and cardamom are also used.

There is also a vegetarian version of the biryani, which is made using vegetables such as carrots, peas, cauliflower and potato and cashew.

A biryani is usually served with Dahi chutney (yogurt and onions) and Mirchi ka salan- a green chili curry. Baghara baingan (roasted Eggplant) is a common side dish. The salad includes onion, carrot, cucumber, and lemon wedges.

Next day I went to Paradise Restaurant- perhaps the most famous place for Biryani in Hyderabad.

I had ordered mutton biryani. The sparse pieces of mutton were well selected and extremely well cooked. Overall the biryani was very good but I found the accompanying salan to be disappointing. Unfortunately the lift was not working and I had to climb to the third floor restaurant by stairs. Another irritant was the security check at the front door of the entrance where all liquids including mineral water bottle had to be deposited. A sure way to shoo away some customers.

Next day I tasted biryani at an ordinary resturant. It cost me Rs.70 only and was excellent value for money.

I went to another simple restaurant for one of the meals and came out satisfied having paid Rs.50 for the chicken curry, Rs. Ten for a paranthand Rs. Twelve for a Cola!.

Hyderabadi Biryani- ‘You give me reason to live’ (With respectful apologies to Joe Cocker)

Post Scriptum: During the same trip to South I also went to Bengaluru where a very dear person took me out for dinner. We went to a restaurant called 'Samarkand' and chicken biryani was ordered. That was the tastiest biryani I have had in my life- chicken pieces were extremely well selected and cooked, the quality of basmati rice was superb and it had just the right amount of spices.

(Write-up with inputs from the internet)

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