Biryani

MY FAVORITE PLACES FOR BIRYANI

By

VIKRAM KARVE

When I was a small boy living in Pune in the sixties, there were only two places where I liked the Biryani: Dorabjee in Pune Camp and Good Luck at Deccan.

Now, there are a dime a dozen restaurants serving oily, greasy, fiery-hot and over-spiced concoctions of rice masquerading as Biryani. A good Biryani must be savory, not spicy; fragrant, not pungent; it should make your stimulate and titillate your tongue, not set it on fire, make your mouth water, not your nose and eyes!

As far as Poona (Pune) is concerned, even today, I think it’s only Dorabjee in Camp and Good Luck at Deccan that serve the good Biryani in Pune. Dorabjee’s mutton biryani, with its succulent spicy tasty mutton with a garnish of burnt onions is easily the best, most tasty, and flavorsome biryani in town. In case you have come across some other place, do let me know.

On first impressions, how do you judge a Biryani? Try the spread test. Pick a little biryani in your fingers and sprinkle it on an empty plate. The grains of rice must not stick together but remain separate. The pieces of meat to must be succulent, clear and dry, not greasy. Then lift the plate and smell the pieces of meat – it must be slightly aromatic (the fragrance and aroma of marinated spices) not sharp or piquant.

At Hyderabad, the home of Biryanis, I’ve tried many – Madina, Shadab, Alpha, Azizia – but my favorite is Paradise in Secunderabad.

I’ve enjoyed many a decent Biryani while traveling on the railways, especially the South Central railway at places like Guntakal and Vijaywada, but the best was a surprise Malabari Biryani (embellished with a boiled egg)which I picked up on the run from the refreshment room at Ernakulam, Kerala.

Vizag too has many good biryanis, of which, I remember the one at Alkapuri near Jagdamba junction. I’ve had many not so memorable biryanis in Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and a few other places.

In Mumbai, there is Delhi Darbar, Lucky, Shalimar, Fountain Plaza and Stadium, near Churchgate Station, but my all time favorite is Olympia on Colaba Causeway. They have both Mutton and Chicken Biryani, but it’s Olympia’s Chicken Biryani that I relish the most. Yes, in my opinion, Olympia serves the perfect chicken biryani.

I used to go for a nice long walk in the evening, and when I was truly famished, I used to walk into Olympia and order half a plate of Chicken Biryani. Olympia is a no nonsense eatery with fast turnover and the biryani comes instantly. It looks fresh and appetizing, and will pass the “spread test” with flying colors.

My mouth waters. Generous scrumptious chicken, tasty rice, a bit of the fried potato – it’s delicious. I do not have words to describe the delightful experience. I squeeze just a tiny drop of lemon in my glass of water and drink. This enhances the aftertaste as I walk home feeling invigorated and happy. Olympia has lots on its menu, but for me it’s always Chicken Biryani.

My favorites: Dorabjee in Pune for Mutton Biryani and Olympia in Mumbai for Chicken Biryani.

I love Biryani. Can anyone please tell me of some new places where I can enjoy real good biryani?

VIKRAM KARVE

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

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69 Comments »

  1. 1
    ex-puneiite Says:

    Try the biryani at Tamanna hotel in Hinjewadi infotech park opposite Infosys. It is a tad costly at rs 120 per plate but is one of the best biryani i had in pune. i have tried at george’s but the irani style of biryani making with chicken masala on plain biryani rice is not as flavourful or relishing or even mouthwatering as compared to Tamanna’s.

    P.S: it can sometimes be spicy..also try the murgh musallum or chicken makhmali at tamanna (only when accompanied by atleast 2 more people)

  2. 2
    Rashid Says:

    I agree Dorabjee’s has pulao / biryani, but you did not mention George restaurant which has very good biryani.

  3. 3
    puneboy Says:

    Dorabjee’s is still good, but you won’t get the seventies taste there any more. George is an on-and-off place; its biryani is good sometimes, downright bad at other times. Blue Nile is a letdown, absolutely. There was a time when its biryani was something to die for, as were those large fried slices of surmai that weren’t even mentioned on the menu. Tiranga is good, but more for Maharashtrian tastes — the biryani here has a bit too much masala for my liking.

    All in all, my vote nowadays goes to Grand Darbar opposite Oldham Methodist Church on East Street, but even this guy needs to be consistent about keeping his biryani good. Or, if you can order by the kilo, then go to Rashid Caterers at Nana Peth, just ahead of City Church as the road curves to the left. Pump him up a bit, tell him his quality had dropped the last time you bought from him, and he is all fired up to provide you the best biryani you ever ate.

  4. 4
    vin Says:

    you guys dont have the slightest clue about what good biryani is. and you, who likes olympia shit, man, you dont have a clue.

    improve your general knowledge guys, in the age of the internet, you can’t even spend 5 minutes of your time trying to figure out who biryani is made?

    maybe finding out how will help you figure thigns out better guys…

  5. 5

    Grand Durbar is good.

  6. 6

    I tried Rashid’s Biryani – Very tasty but a bit spicy.

  7. 7
    Siddharth Mehta Says:

    Pune so far has the worst biriyani next only to Bangalore. I hate the local Puneri favourites of Dorabjee, Goodluck, George and Blue Nile- a very poor form of biriyani (i doubt whether its a biriyani or not). Same goes for Lucky, Noorani, Olympia of Bombay (i am born and brought up in bombay) and Kareem’s, Jawahar of Delhi.

    If you want to taste real good biriyani, then buy yourself a ticket to Hyderbad, Lucknow and Calcutta. Paradise at Secunderabad, Madina, Azizia at Hyderabad, Wahid Ki Biryani, Idris Biryaniwala at Lucknow and Royal Indian, Shiraz, Aminia, Zeeshan, Rehmania, Shabbir, Arsalan and Bedwin of Calcutta.

    Do eat here specially at the given places in Lucknow and Calcutta.
    Calcutta so far has the best biryani in India (Hyderabadi flavours cooked in Lucknowi style full of Potatoes, One boiled egg and Mutton).

    And if you want to spend a fortune on good biryani, go to Dumpukht at ITC Hotels (ITC Maurya-Delhi, ITC Grand Maratha-Bombay and ITC Sonar Bangla-Calcutta).. enjoy buddy

    • 8
      Sudeep Says:

      Arsaalan Biriyani is no doubt mindblowing. I am a fan of Shiraaz since child. However of all Zeeshan , Shiraaz I like Arsaalan. But have u tried tikiya at Shiraaz. No comparison. Royal is still going strong with Mutton Chap. But its full of boes and less of meat. The taste is more spicy. But the speciality of Kolkata is that biriyani is served without dahi or Burrani.

  8. 9
    Piyush Says:

    Vikram….

    Mitra mag aapan kadhi Jaaycha ani kuthe jaaycha Biryani khayla…. Reply fast…. I am from Pune…..

  9. 10
    saim Says:

    i am new to Pune a die hard Biryani lover …………have had Biryani at Paradise Hyderaba… at tunde Lucknow and at many more places in Lucknow..best till now Paradise…lets see what Pune has got in store

  10. 12
    Daya Says:

    I have been born and brought up in Pune although now I am settled in Noida. I have eaten all kinds of mutton and chicken biryani in Delhi, Noida, Kolkata, Mumbai, but… nothing comes even close to the fantastic biryani that you get at Dorabjees, Pune. The worst biryani is in Delhi – they simply don’t know how to make a biryani, although they are wizards at kababs (Karim’s at Jama masjid is to die for). I really miss Dorabjees Biryani and make it a point to go there every time I am in Pune. George is pretty good too.

  11. 13
    Pradeepta Chowdhury Says:

    I studied in Pune in the 70′s. I have never had Biryani as good as at Dorabjee’s.

    I grew up in Old Delhi and (Yes!) Karim’s kababs are special! But I also remember bicycling in the rain (as a student) to eat kababs at “Radio Hotel” just off Main Street!. Does that place still exist?

    I have lived abroad ever since. But if the Biriyani at Dorabjee’s is still as good, I will make a special trip to Pune.

    I also remember the “brain curry” at Dorabjee’s! Delicious!

    Do you think you could ‘steal’ the recipe and post it on line? Or just reply to me in private! :-)

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