MY FAVORITE PLACES FOR BIRYANI
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?