Archive | December, 2012

Best Birrr and more

10 Dec
Best Birrrr

I love potatoes. I think they are the most amazing vegetable you can put in any meat dish and turn something ordinary into something lip-smackingly good.
Growing up in Kolkata, I had always assumed that potatoes are a natural addition to Biriyani. The best of which we used to by from Shiraz, now long overtaken by the likes of Arsalan. I’d wait for the biriyani to be unpacked and then pray for at least one piece of potato on my plate. I can confess that I probably preferred the alu to the meat in the biriyani, most times. Too much chewing when it comes to the meat.
Now, in the course of my profession as a layabout and glutton, I’ve tasted many different biriyanis. I hate the over spiced ones. I can just about deal with the ones which are a little too oily (like I had in Shiraz recently), and I absolutely detest biriyanis which are seem to lose their purpose because of indecisive chefs who don’t know what to accentuate in their dishes.
When I first arrived in Delhi, I was, like a true Bengali drawn to rice dishes and biriyanis in the many restaurants I visited. I can say I don’t really think much of the biriyanis which are sold in this city. The rotis here are extraordinarily good, the biriyani is served at the end of meals when you’re too full, like an afterthought. Not enough respect!!
My favourite biriyani in Delhi is far removed from the gallis of Chandi Chowk or overlooking the Jama Masjid. It’s a rice and meat duet brought forward by Chef Anurudh Khanna of The Park. And it has an additional actor in it which really pops the flavours. The dish I am a huge fan of is the Paan Biriyani which Chef Khanna introduced me to maybe a year or so ago. It’s a dish which has seduced me and brought me back to him over and over and over again. When you bite into your first mouthful, you’re first assaulted by the smell of the paan in tandem with the meat and rice. The first thing you taste are the clear flavours of the meat, subtly spiced with cloves and cardamom and the rice, almost like a yakhni pulao, then right at the end, you have the rush of the paan’s acidic taste, without going bitter, it gives the  biriyani a very refreshing taste. There is something about the subtle flavours of the paan which cuts through the richness of the rice. It isn’t a spicy biriyani at all. The paan leaves, which are julienned and added to the dish before the dum give is a green flavour, without overwhelming the meat and rice medley. You get the rice, the meat AND the paan as different flavours which complement each other. That’s the genius of the dish. It’s like the feeling you get when you dip your feet in really hot water on a cold winter evening. It tingles but you feel fantastic. And you come out feeling clean!

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