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Treasure trove of innovative biryanis in the capital

A good biryani can soothe both the stomach and the heart, and Delhi-NCR is now home to plenty of them. With the lockdown giving rise to more cloud kitchens and innovation in regional cuisine, biryani lovers in the capital can have every variety of the dish between Lucknow and Hyderabad on their plates now.

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For some of us, the word ‘biryani’ takes us to another world. A good biryani is a meal that is satisfying in every possible way since it ignites all our senses, especially if eaten by hand in a traditional way. Being a traveler since childhood, pilafs and biryanis in different geographical locations have been a staple as these are some of the safest, nutritious and wholesome things to consume on the go. Some of those biryanis have been truly memorable and their taste has stayed with me forever.

Delhi has never boasted of a fabulous biryani (and rightfully so) because so far there hasn’t been much to boast of really. We’ve always drooled over the delicate and aromatic Lucknowi or Kolkata biryani or the full-bodied and amazing Hyderabadi, Ambur or Malabari biryani or the flavourful Bombay, Saoji, Memoni or Sindhi biryani. In the capital city, our choices for a good biryani are limited to a few players with none that one could write home about—till now.

The pandemic has not only brought a boom in the cloud kitchen space, but it has also turned the city into a hub of innovation for passionate foodies. We are witnessing an unprecedented variety at this time and I am pleasantly surprised by both the way in which innovation is happening in the F&B space and the way people are taking to it!

While I love a good, traditional Kolkata or Ambur biryani, which I never miss when I’m travelling to those cities, I am quite impressed and taking to the new, innovative biryanis that the capital city now has to offer. Here are my picks:

The Laal Maas Biryani by chef Sahil Singh at his new venture called VDeliver.com. Chef Singh is doing a variety of absolutely stunning biryanis like the Ghee Roast Biryani, the Chicken 65 Biryani, the Laal Maas Biryani and the Rogan Josh Biryani. However, my picks are the amazing Laal Maas Biryani, which packs a punch with the taste of all the flavours of the rice and spices along with that of the traditional Rajasthani dish, and the Ghee Roast Mutton Biryani, which gives me a taste of Mangalore. Both are distinctly different and full-bodied dishes with lots of spices and flavours. The latter is made by using long grain basmati chawal cooked on dum, layered with chicken cooked in the Mangalorean ghee roast masala, flavoured with tempered curry leaves and chillies, and the former is a typical Rajasthani spicy and hot laal maas prepared with yogurt, Mathania chillies and lots of garlic, layered with long grain basmati rice. It is then finished with dhungar, an ancient technique of smoking and infusing the flavour of burnt charcoal smoke into a dish. Both these biryanis are spicy and hot too, and go best with a tomato or cucumber raita since there’s a lot of onion in the biryani already.

The Zafrani Mutton Biryani by Sanjana Adhlakha is an aromatic, light biryani made with Golden Sela rice instead of the basmati as it was made traditionally by her mother. She says, “The method of layering includes zaffran milk and mutton curry along with the rice. The yellow colour in the biryani comes almost entirely from the kesar and not food colouring. This is what makes this dish so special.” The best part about this zaffrani biryani is that the flavours take me back to the taste of the amazing pilafs, sans the dried fruits, of the Mediterranean which I had during my growing up years.

Apparently, Delhi does have a ‘real’ Mughlai-style biryani, unlike what we have been used to eating at various outlets across the country who only claim to serve ‘authentic’ Mughlai cuisine. The use of saalan and achaar masala or jeera is a big turn-off and these are what Delhi biryanis have been about so far. Shibli Anees’ venture Delhi 6 has been working with age-old recipes and their Mughlai Mutton Dum Biryani with ghee and zaffran is the best thanks to its taste, aroma, cut of meat, texture and overall experience. “We strictly follow the traditional style of biryani making, which involves using special meat cuts, cooking rice and meat separately, and finally cooking them together by forming layers of each in a vessel. Then it’s kept on dum, which involves sealing the vessel thoroughly and keeping the lid closed to trap in the aroma. The biryani is then cooked over slow fire or dum. We strictly avoid using any kind of achaar masala or saalan with our biryani. Last but not the least, basmati rice, zaffran and desi ghee are used for biryani preparation with some amounts of fatty meat pieces to bring out the real flavours and texture.” On asking him how he managed to get such authentic tastes, Shibli adds, “Not only do we have a team of khandani bawarchis, we have also tied up with some wonderful women home chefs of Old Delhi who make food for our establishment.” It looks like Delhi might get to boast about having its own biryani finally!

Another beautiful North Indian biryani is the one that Harangad Singh does—a mean Nalli Biryani, which is a popular Mughlai dish that explodes with flavour and spices. Nalli nihari is one of the authentic Mughlai curries and is one of the signature dishes at Parat. When cooked with basmati rice on dum it becomes a dish with a deliciously eclectic blend of flavours, spices and aromas. This innovative, new recipe by Harangad, which uses nalli botis, is a real treat since part of the marrow flows into the rice and gives it a buttery taste, making it melt in the mouth. Even though it’s a little dry as compared to other biryanis and they don’t serve it with an accompaniment like a saalan or raita, it tastes good as it is and the meat works brilliantly as well.

The Saoji Chicken Biryani is an innovation by Neha Patil and falls under the Maharashtrian biryani category, which calls out to be ordered again and again. Being a mutton-eater, I was slightly wary about a chicken biryani, but the flavours left me very pleasantly surprised. The basmati rice blends beautifully with the coconut, patthar ke phool, pipli, saunf and other ingredients which give it all its goodness. These flavours are absorbed beautifully by the chicken and the stock used adds to the taste. As Neha says, “The biryani is made with authentic home-ground Maharashtrian spices to give it the authentic taste of Saoji Chicken. I choose chicken over mutton because chicken gets blended with the spices and the gravy well.” There’s no yogurt or tomatoes so that the flavours are not tangy, and so a good raita as an accompaniment completes this one.

There are some fabulous biryani joints in the south of India too, with Chennai topping the list for me. It is where a huge variety of biryani is available and the biryanis at even the regular or local joints do not disappoint. The flavours are immense, the meat is tender, and the accompanying onion raita is delicious. One really needs nothing else for a complete meal. The best part is that the variety moves beyond chicken and mutton to other kinds of fowl, rabbit, fish and prawn biryanis! The accompaniment is usually an onion raita, which goes really well with the spice quotient.

The Malabar Mutton Biryani recipe of Appum House by Gaurav Sahai is the gem in their crown which they prepare only for special orders. It is a biryani which brings back all the nostalgia from my growing up years in Sri Lanka. I’m a big fan of the Malabar Mutton Biryani, whichis a non-vegetarian delicacy from the Malabar region of Kerala and is very popular among biryani lovers. The rice used is the Jeerakasala rice from Kerala, followed by a fresh homemade biryanimasala paste with cinnamon, cardamom, green chillies, fennel and peppercorn. “The mutton is separately prepared with this masala paste till it’s cooked to tenderness. The biryani is cooked in dum, flavoured with whole spices, salt, cashew, raisins, and once done, the rice is layered with the cooked mutton and then flavoured with saffron milk to get an amazing flavour,” says Gaurav. The best part about the biryani is that it is wrapped in a potli made of a banana leaf and cooked, which, when opened, fills the room with an amazingly spicy aroma. I’m glad that I found this one!

The Kolkata biryani is meant to be light and non-spicy. It is an offshoot of the Lucknowi biryani with the addition of the aloo (potato) and deem (egg). The biryani is slow-cooked with layers of meat, aloo and rice. So, serving the biryani becomes an art and ‘cutting’ the biryani is an essential component while serving. Unless the white rice on top is mixed with the masala and meat at the bottom, the desired taste and satisfaction cannot be achieved while eating. A traditional Kolkata biryani doesn’t require an accompaniment: the rice syncs well the cooked meat and juices that make the biryani moist and hence doesn’t require anything else with it.

The Raan and Kolkata Mutton Biryanis by Arghyadip of Pet Puraan are worth a mention. These have finally managed to tickle the senses of the Bengali in me, bringing back the nostalgia of the real Kolkata biryani, with the aloo and deem and mildly spiced meat, which is not falling off the bone but has a bite to it. The rice is light and fluffy, making it one that can be ordered and eaten many times each month. This biryani can well become a staple and doesn’t have to be ordered only on special occasions. The raan biryani is available only on special order for bigger gatherings and this biryani may well be an excuse for having one of those!

For someone who loves a good biryani, these picks of mine can be a real treat after ages. I am thankful to the pandemic for a few reasons, one of which is the innovation we are seeing in the F&B industry now and the creativity of chefs across all genres—and all these wonderful biryanis are definitely here to stay.

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Fatima Sana Shaikh to star in Hindi adaptation of Tamil hit ‘Aruvi’

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New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): Bollywood actor Fatima Sana Shaikh is set to star in the Hindi adaptation of the 2017 Tamil hit film ‘Aruvi’.
Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the news on his Instagram handle. He also revealed that the film is not titled yet and is scheduled to go on floors in mid-2021.
He wrote, “FATIMA SANA SHAIKH IN #TAMIL REMAKE… #FatimaSanaShaikh to star in #Hindi adaptation of #Tamil film #Aruvi… Directed by E Niwas… The film – not titled yet – is produced by Applause Entertainment and Faith Films [Viki Rajani]… Filming begins mid-2021.”

The film will be helmed by filmmaker E Niwas, who is a recipient of the National film award for ‘Shool’ (1999). The upcoming movie will see Fatima portraying a fiery, eponymous character made memorable by Aditi Balan in the Tamil original. The film is being produced by Applause Entertainment and Faith Films.
Speaking about the forthcoming movie, Fatima said, “I am so thrilled to do the remake of Aruvi and really looking forward to diving deep into the skin of the character. I am really glad that Applause Entertainment and Faith Films have come together with E Niwas to make this great content and I am really excited to embark on this journey.”
E Niwas also commented on the film and said, “Aruvi is not just a story of a hero. It’s a triumph over the labyrinths of life. It’s totally euphoric and a privilege to explore one of the most beautiful cinematic characters I have come across. Fatima Sana Shaikh is an absolutely befitting choice, and I am super excited to collaborate with Applause Entertainment and Faith Films.”
The upcoming remake will mark Applause Entertainment’s first collaboration with Faith Films.
Talking about the new project, Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment, said, “Equally funny and ferocious, Aruvi is a provocative, feminist social satire that stunned us when we first saw it. We were drawn in by its unconventional narrative, deftly balancing its black comedy leanings, with the beats of a tautly executed thriller. We’re excited to collaborate with Faith Films, E Niwas, and Fatima Sana Shaikh in the retelling of this audacious film for a national audience.”
In a similar vein, Viki Rajani, founder of Faith Films, said, “We are thrilled to be backing a story as strong and gritty as Aruvi. The original film was a game-changer and yes, there is a lot of pressure on us but we have an incredible team. We really look forward to our collaboration with Applause Entertainment. We are happy to have E Niwas helming the film and Fatima Sana Shaikh starring in it.”
‘Aruvi’, which released in 2017, garnered huge critical acclaim and went on to become a massive box office success. The social satire also went on to widely travel across prestigious film festivals, winning accolades and cult status along the way.

Lauded by viewers and critics alike, ‘Aruvi’ was the rare commercial entertainer that also held a mirror to society, with its sparkling commentary on consumerism and misogyny, among other prevalent issues. As a character, Aruvi was heralded as a progressive, post-modern symbol of feminism, and her radical journey through the film was a spellbinding, sucker punch to the gut.

The film followed the story of Aruvi, a middle-class girl, who was thrown out of her house after her family accused her of having brought shame on them. Later, as she tries to survive on her own, she must overcome several challenges. (ANI)

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Indian Women Rising, Educate Girls USA to raise funds for education of Oscar-contending ‘Bittu’s’ cast

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New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): Indian Women Rising, a cinema collective founded by Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, and Ruchikaa Kapoor Sheikh is collaborating with ‘Educate Girls USA’, an NGO founded by Safeena Husain to raise funds for the two young leads Rani and Renu Kumari from the Oscar-contending short film ‘Bittu’.
The collaboration also received the support of Global icon Priyanka Chopra Jonas who gave a shout-out to the fundraiser event, standing in solidarity with the right to education for the young girls.
Priyanka said, “Bittu is moving, raw and real. It takes a devasting incident and presents it from a unique perspective. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to help give it the attention it deserves. It’s a great example of how women supporting women can make anything possible and the Indian Women Rising Collective is proof of that and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”
She added, “Cinema the world over needs more women to bring their voices, stories, and perspectives to the fore and this is one step in that direction. This fundraiser will help these 2 amazing young girls, Rani and Renu Kumari continue their education and pursue all the dreams and ambitions they have for themselves and I hope that many will come forward to help make this a reality.”
The fundraiser is scheduled for today and will be moderated by digital sensation and content creator Prajakta Koli, who was seen in the recently-released Netflix show ‘Mismatched’.
Commenting on it, Prajakta said, “It is my absolute pleasure that I get to be associated with a beautiful piece of art like Bittu at whatever capacity. I have so much love for Guneet, Tahira, and Ekta for always telling stories that touch your heart in ways unknown. Also, getting shortlisted for the academy is a tremendous feat and I am so proud of how content is evolving in our country.”
While the fundraiser will prominently emphasise the importance of girls’ education, it also aims to raise awareness about its related advantages on the overall development of the girl child, including confidence, health, and hygiene, her agency to decision making and empowerment.
Directed by Karishma Dev Dube, ‘Bittu’ is based on a true story and tells the tale of a close friendship between two girls, eclipsed by an accidental poisoning at school. From casting real children amongst the valleys of the Himalayas to shooting against the backdrop of the mountains, the film offers a visually aesthetic as well as an authentic experience to its viewers.
The film has garnered critical acclaim and recognition for its distinct cinematography and poignant storytelling. The movie’s strength also lies in its unconventional casting. The central characters of Bittu and Chand are played by first-time performers, who were cast from the local community in Uttarakhand where the film was shot.
Elaborating more on this Karishma, said, “This film exists because of the unforgettable performances of Rani Kumari and Renu Kumari. Without our two young leads, Bittu would never have the life span it currently does, representing India on global platforms such as the Academy and the Director’s Guild Of America.”
She added, “Regardless of their challenging circumstances, these little girls were consummate professionals, keeping up with the rigor of film production. When you watch this film, you will not be able to deny the fact that Rani and Renu deserve everything, or at the very least, a shot at life that provides opportunities that can help sharpen the irrefutable talent that already exists in them.”
Speaking on the fundraiser event to support the education of the lead actors of the film, Karishma said, “Today, Rani and Renu like many other children, struggle to stay in class. They are coming from a migrant laborer community who are especially hard hit during the pandemic.”
She further said, “I am so grateful for Educate Girls and Indian Women Rising, who have come together to help us change the lives of these two incredible children and their families. If we can give them the life they deserve, then it would be the best thing we have achieved with this film.”
Indian Women Rising in a joint statement shared, “Bittu is a special film and the two girls are its very soul. The performances of Rani and Renu in the film proved that each child is gifted and just needs an opportunity to flourish. We are thrilled to collaborate with Educate Girls USA and raise funds to secure the education and overall development of Rani and Renu. Education is the basic right of every child and it is our humble effort to bring a tangible change in the lives of these two talented girls.”
Safeena Husain, Founder of Educate Girls USA, said, “Children need to get equal opportunities to access quality education. With this collaboration, we are trying to bring the vital importance of investing in girls’ education to the forefront.”
Husain added, “It is the best investment the world can make as it positively impacts 9 sustainable development goals, including health, nutrition, employment, even climate change. This investment also helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, patriarchy, and illiteracy as an educated girl is more than twice as likely to educate her children.”
The 93rd Academy Awards announced the shortlists in nine categories nearly a month back and ‘Bittu’ made it to the Live Action Short Film shortlist.
Competing amongst 174 films from across the globe, ‘Bittu’ qualified for the top 10 after the first round of voting and will now be subjected to the votes of members of the short films and animation branch to determine the nominees. (ANI)

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MADHURI DIXIT INTRODUCES ANAMIKA

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NEW DELHI: As Netflix announced its slate of intriguing series for this year, Madhuri Dixit introduced her character from the upcoming series ‘Finding Anamika’ to fans on Wednesday. The ‘Dhak-Dhak’ girl of Bollywood who will be debuting in the digital world through the suspenseful family drama series ‘Finding Anamika’ took to her Instagram account and introduced her character ‘Anamika’ through a scintillating post. The picture shared by the 53-year-old actress sees her in a glamorous avatar as she poses effortlessly like a diva for the lens.

Raising fans excitement, Madhuri wrote, “Beauty, poise, grace, and elegance are all words you’d associate with Anamika. But skeletons hidden in her closet all come rushing out when an untoward event takes place. There’s always more than meets the eye, isn’t there?,” in the caption. “I’m thrilled to announce I will be part of the Netflix original series ‘Finding Anamika’. Excuse me, while I do a happy dance to celebrate! @netflix_in #AbMenuMeinSabNew #FindingAnamika,” she added. She also acknowledged her whole team including filmmaker Karan Johar in the caption.

 ‘Finding Anamika’ is a suspenseful family drama series which is produced by Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta, and Somen Mishra under Dharmatic Entertainment banner. The show which will also feature Sanjay Kapoor, Manav Kaul, Lakshvir Saran, Suhasini Muley, and Muskkaan Jaferi is helmed by Karishma Kohli, Bejoy Nambiar.  The film revolves around the story of a global superstar, wife, and mom who suddenly vanishes without a trace. As police and loved ones search for answers to her disappearance, her perfectly crafted facade is stripped away, revealing hidden truths, and painful lies in the life of an iconic actress. 

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‘SCAM 2003: THE CURIOUS CASE OF ABDUL KARIM TELGI’ TO STREAM ON OTT

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Hansal Mehta

MUMBAI: Hansal Mehta’s hit series ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story’ is set to have a follow-up. The makers have announced the second instalment of the series titled ‘Scam 2003: The Curious Case of Abdul Karim Telgi’. Hansal returns to direct the show. The new season will tell the story of the 2003 stamp paper scam and its perpetrator late convicted Indian counterfeiter Abdul Karim Telgi. The script will be adapted from the Hindi book ‘Reporter Ki Diary’ authored by journalist Sanjay Singh. “I am delighted to be back with exploring yet another fascinating story following the immense success of ‘Scam 1992’. The new season of this franchise will focus on another riveting story that shook the country a few years ago — the stamp paper scam,” said Hansal. The series will go on floors later this year and stream on SonyLIV. 

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THE TRAILER OF RANA DAGGUBATI’S ‘HAATHI MERE SAATHI’ IS OUT

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NEW DELHI: The much-awaited Hindi trailer of the adventure film ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ was unveiled by Eros International via a virtual conference on Thursday.

On the occasion of World Wildlife Day, on 3 March, the makers revealed the much anticipated Tamil and Telugu trailers of the trilingual film titled, ‘Kaadan’ and ‘Aranya’ in Chennai and Hyderabad respectively, in the presence of Rana Daggubati, Prabu Solomon, Vishnu Vishal, Shriya Pilgaonkar, and Zoya Hussain. Now the team has released the trailer of its Hindi version titled ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ over a virtual press conference.

 The trailer of ‘Kaadan’ and ‘Aranya’ has left the viewers spellbound with its scale and the performances. It gives a glimpse of the intriguing narrative that awaits us on 26 March. Rana will be seen as the protagonist in a completely different avatar in all three versions along with Pulkit Samrat in ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ (Hindi) and Vishnu Vishal in ‘Kaadan’ (Tamil) and ‘Aranya’ (Telugu). The film also stars talented actresses – Shriya Pilgaonkar and Zoya Hussain in lead roles.   The endearing tale between a man and the elephants is a story inspired by multiple events. A unique concept which is unexplored in Indian cinema before. It traces the narrative of the protagonist (Rana), who spends most of his life in the jungle, dedicated to protecting the ecosystem.

Post the massive success of the magnum opus ‘Baahubali’ franchise, and ‘The Ghazi Attack’, this will be a hat-trick for Rana in a trilingual. No doubt, it has left the fans excited for the film to hit the silver screens. The film is directed by National Award-winning director Prabu, who is an expert on films around wildlife.

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Monthly Recommendations by JAIVEER MISRA

Jaiveer Misra

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Time really does fly. We are already in March 2021! And now we hopefully see the light at the end of the tunnel with regards to the pandemic. To reflect, while the year gone by has brought with it unprecedented challenges that have tested the human spirit, artists across the globe have been at work, creating, and uplifting humanity by bringing the joy of music into homes through online platforms. And it’s not just artists in the conventional sense, we have witnessed people singing to one another on their balconies, mothers soothing their young with lullaby’s and farmers humming their traditional folk songs while ploughing the fields. It is not surprising then that song releases through 2020 reflected personal journeys and connected with audiences like never before. 

This trend continues and my favourite pick from the charts is “Better Together” by Luke Combs. With just a piano to support the vocals, this offering surpasses obvious cliches. Along with songwriters Dan Isbell and Randy Montana, the song speaks to who Combs really is and who his fans are. Other recommendations on The Hot 100 Billboard Charts currently include “Mood” by 24Goldn featuring Iann Dior, “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, and “Therefore I am” by Billie Ellish. For those who want to listen to some really qualitative Jazz, I would strongly recommend “Lullaby of the Leaves”. Composed by Bernice Petkere and lyricist Joe Young, “Lullaby of the Leaves” was featured in the 1932 Broadway revue Chamberlain Brown’s Scrap Book. Many recordings have followed since but Ella Fitzgerald brings a touch of magic to it like no other artist can. Also outstanding is “Jazz About Love” where Ella and Louis Armstrong weave their magic around the theme of friendship. While we are unable to enjoy musical theatre at the moment, there is nothing to stop us from revisiting and indeed listening to the all-time greats. My recommendations for this month include; “On The Street Where You Live” from ‘My Fair Lady’, “And I am Telling You I’m Not Going” from ‘Dreamgirls’, and “One Day More” from ‘Les Misérables’. My recommendations for tracks for those who enjoy a touch of Bollywood music include “Shayad” by Arijit Singh, “Taaron Ke Shehar” by Neha Kakkar, Jubin Nautiyal, Jaani, and “Nashe Si Chadh Gayi” also by Arijit Singh. 

 And last but not the least, if you’re in a mood for something quite different, my latest offering “Dreamwalking” can be found under J.A.I.V on Spotify and other popular streaming platforms. Till we meet next month…keep those feet tapping and your fingers snapping!

Follow J.A.I.V on your favourite streaming platforms. Instagram: @oneandonlyjaiv. Webstite:www.jaiveermisra.com or write in with your questions at jaiveermisra@gmail.com      

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