The Background: The Biriyani Junkie Award is a personal intiative (Eating rights – Me) where I went around from ‘Hand Thela’s’ to 5 star hotels in search of the best biriyani.
I collated my top 10 and visited them again to pick my top 3 and visited them again to pick my best. I always have felt for Biriyani like nothing else. Next year I am planning to take this to a next level by including made to order, personal chefs, and chef’s special biriyani’s along with their recepies and make you jealous – though you won’t most likely be able to eat it as they are not on sale, but you can cook it.
The Connect: I have always passionately believed myself to have been born to consume and be enthralled by the clever flavors making riot in a Biriyani.
Here is a little bit of history (Source: Wikipedia) for those interested.
“Biryani, biriani, or beriani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) (بریان) which means “fried” or “roasted”.
Biryani was originated in Iran (Persia) and it was brought to South Asia by Iranian travelers and merchants. Local variants of this dish are popular not only in South Asia but also in Arabia and within various South Asian communities in Western countries.” Read more on Wiki.
There are so many types and forms of this heavenly concoction that it is almost alcoholic to be lost in its aroma.
Just like we as people should never discriminate between other people based on their color, creed, religion or weight, I have not even once discriminated between Biriyani from two different places. There were a total of 72 places where in the year of 2011 I had Biriyani and as a result of that meticulous research work the following results have been collated.
The Analysis: In my book atleast, Biriyani in India can be divided into three key groups, not entirely unique though.
1. The Bengal Biriyani Gharana
Preparation: Its chunky and mostly yellow in color due to the turmeric rich spicing. The key distinction of any Biriyani is the balance between being spiced and being flavored. This one is spiced and cooked to mouth-watering and melt-in-mouth perfection. The succulent pieces of any meat you like and the best of all – Potato pieces make magic. It is served with Papad, Chutney, Salan, Chaanch, Raita and if you get lucky Murabba. Not all of it is served at any one place though.
Some Popular Hangouts – Park Street, Burrabazar Kolkata. You do not get this in NCR.
My Pick – Aminia Hotel Burra bazar Kolkata
2.The Hyderabad Biriyani Gharana
Preparation: This is the traditinal biriyani, aromatic flavoury of Zaffran and the very rice its made of. The meat is subtle and raw flavoured while the salan and raita complete the dish. Being coocked in ‘DUM’ steam or ‘HANDI’ earthen pot, it has a certain earthiness to its belly.
While it is hard to get the real thing unless you Nizam’s guest,however the 5 star hotels are are doing a pretty good job at this. You can also find a pretty satisfying Hyderabadi Biriyani around Eid in your friends homes who celebrate it.
Some Popular Hangouts: Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk Delhi, Aminabad Lucknow, Charminar Area,Flee Market, Hyderabad
My Pick – Paradise Secunderabad, The Oberoi, Gurgaon, Trident Gurgaon, Swissotel Salt Lake , Kolkata,
3. The Desi Biriyani Gharana
Preparation: Anywhere, anytime, anyhow rice is cooked together with any meat and labeled ‘Biriyani’- that’s desi. It can have any ingredient in it and is a depart from the traditional style. I have seen many very interesting ingredients added to chicken desi style biriyani, e.g. Baby corn, peas, onion rings, pre cooked tandoori chicken and readymade masala and even ready to eat served with pudina chutney. All in hotels not in homes.
These are mostly the fearless crusaders willing to experiment. This section also includes the amazingly delicious regional adaptations of the Biriyani like that from Mumbai, Kodaikanal and Kerela. Its just too wide to classify and my humble tastebuds are too insignificant to be able to evaluate them. But they are 100 % Desi.
Some Popular Hangouts: Park Street Thela’s, Jamia Area, New Delhi, Some corners of Chakkarpur – Gurgaon, Ammus – Chakkarpur Gurgaon.
My Pick – NJP, Not just parathas, Gurgaon
The Verdict : My list of top 10 , not in order.
A. Swissotel Kolkata
B.Not Just Parathas, Gurgaon
C.Woodfire Grill (Now Closed) Gurgaon
D.Aminia Hotel, Burra bazar, Kolkata
F. The Ashoka, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi
G.Samodh Bagh, Near Jaipur
H. The Amer Palace Hotel, Jaipur
I. Arsalan, Kolkata
J. The Oberoi, Gurgaon
And the award goes to…
# 1 – Aminia Hotel, Burra bazar, Kolkata for the Bengali Style Biriyani
‘Its like your stomach can be full but your heart can never have enough’
# 2 – Paradise, Secundrabad for the Hyderabad Style Biriyani
‘I can not be audacious enough to say much, its like pilgrimage’
# 3 – Not Just Paranthas, Gurgaon, For Desi Style Biriyani
‘Its just Delhi Estyle, you cant quite compare but its worth a treat
Hope you get some useful info from here. Go pamper your tastebuds!