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Saturday, October 15, 2016


Biriyani is one dish which evokes a lot of emotion ,from the Hindu kush down to the hot plains of Tamilnadu a good Biriyani is relished and considered as a boon to the taste buds .
I had written on its history and how I mastered the art of making a decent Biriyani which need not be called by some other name .
This time I want to go into its legends .
There are stories abound on famous Biriyani chefs and how they made it an art of the culinary ,movies were made on some like the Ustad Hotel in Malayalam where the great skill of a Biriyani ustad had the story running .
These are my small experiences with the manna from heaven the Biriyani
Now when the cognoscenti talk of Biriyani it is only Mutton Biriyani nothing less than that .
Chicken Biriyani is something that is ignored amongst the elite but i do like a well made chicken biriyani too
so is beef and fish Biriyani
vegetable biriyani though i like it is for the cows they say
Lucknowi biriyani is straight from the kitchen of the Awadhi nawabs the famed Dum pukth method of cooking mutton in its juices and mixing with saffron rice to bring out a flavor fit for the Nawabs
when the British drove the Nawab into exile in Kolkata along with his small retinue of caretakers , the much impoverished chef added potatoes and eggs to the Biriyani creating the kolkata style of today !
Potatoes are also used in Maharashtra Biriyani with mutton and rice cooked in layers
in Sind in Pakistan the Biriyani is more spicier
Hyderabd Biriyani has got the crown for the best Biriyani
The kitchens of the Hyderabdi Nawab formatted the delicacy over the years with the tender mutton cooked in its juices blended in layers with half cooked aromatic Basmati rice .
Down south we have the Ambur Biriyani ,Ambur is a small town in Bangalore Coimbatore highway which because of the Arcot nawabs adopted a style of Biriyani similar to Hyderabdi but the mutton is soaked in curd giving a different taste
Dindigul biriyani is different made of shorter fatter rice with lot of pepper it has its own fans
then came the famous chef with a head gear ,as such gear is called Thalapakettu in Tamil this became a brand of Biriyani today with several franchises called Thalakapettu biriyani outlets .
in Kerala specially in north kerala the Tellicherry Biriyani uses kyma rice and cooks chicken or mutton gravy separately later mixing with rice with lot of dry fruits in it
each of its fans say their type is best
way back in the seventies if one wanted a good Biriyani in Madras todays Chennai one headed to the Buharis either one near the central railway station or in mount road ,one near the beach was more for leisure food like a languorous tea with crunchy samosas or a bevy of pastry left on table to tempt you to be taken with red coloured chai which could be drunk in gallons ,
many of my afternoons were spent in this place with friends when i did a short stint in the presidency college just opposite to this place .
The other famous place was the imperial hotel most rich Muslim marriages took place here and we waited for the next invitation eagerly
The big dining hall would be filled with the aroma and the hospitable hosts would seat us in comfort
there were two types of Biriyani served in marriages one was mutton in rice for the slightly budget conscious though it wasnt cheap at all here the mutton pieces were inside the rice the superior alternative was the rice in mutton where tender succulent huge mutton pieces which melted like butter filled the tray with aromatic rice around it this was taken with Raitha made of curd and a Brinjal curry and to end it with a fine Semaya kheer was ambrosia itself
these days one can never get such Biriyanis
the packing places like Golden Biryani in Chennai were also quite good today the number of Biriyani joints is mind boggling and an online search and order is the only way out to get the best
Down in Cochin the kayees in downtown Mattancherry with its narrow streets was known for its legendary chef kayeekka hotel
Ikka in muslim malayalam lingo is elder brother this ikka was definitely an elder brother in Biriyani to all
The place was small but neat
many including me used to take packets and eat at home instead of eating there i still remember kayee kka standing shirtless near the counter directing all to get the packs quick and hot ,he would direct its making when it was over and that was fast
that man really created magic with his Biriyanis
Today they say the upmarket version in Ernakulam the kayees restaurant is not that good neither the original in Mattancherry though i haven't tried myself .
with kayeekka no more only his memories juice those biryanis today
what a great dish and what wonderful artists were needed to make it
A dish fit for the Gods themselve

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