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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RITHVIK DHANJANI SHARES HIS EXPERIENCE WORKING IN CARTEL
MUMBAI: The show Cartel is an action drama with its core set in a family. The show primarily revolves around The Angre family and four other Crime Lords based in the different areas of the city. The trailer starts showing us “The Family”, with us getting introduced to Rani Mai, played by the versatile Supriya Pathak.
Dressed in a nauvari saree, Rani Mai is fierce. We are then introduced to her three sons – Major Bhau, Madhu Bhau, and Abhay – played by Tanuj Virwani, Jeetendra Joshi, and Rithvik Dhanjani. When one character asks Major Bhau how he killed the soldier inside him, his reply – “Mara nahi hai wo, Pehle wo desh ke liye ladta tha, aur ab apni family ke liye” – we can’t help but whistle.
With a humongous cast of around 137 talented actors, this highly ambitious show is all set to enthral the audiences with its action-packed trailer. Produced by Balaji Telefilms, the show has a stellar cast comprising Supriya Pathak, Tanuj Virwani, Jitendra Joshi, Rithvik Dhanjani, Pranati Rai Prakash, Divya Agarwal, Girija Oak Godbole, Amey Wagh, Monica Dogra, Vikram Kochhar, Vibhav Roy, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sanaya Pithawala, Mayur More, Mrinal Dutt, Krishna Kaul, Aditi Vasudev, Keval Dasani, Kannan Arunachalam, Sushrii Mishra amongst the 137 actors in the show.
The Daily Guardian spoke to Rithvik Dhanjani about the series Cartel and experience working on a character totally different from him in real life. Cartel is your first web series, how excited are you for it? I am on the 19th cloud. Finally the series is going to be out after almost three years of preparing for it. Excited for the series to see it come alive and hope the audience loves it too. Blood, sweat, heart and soul has gone in making the series and wish the audience reciprocates it with love.
What does your character look like in web series Cartel, any preparations made for the same? How relatable is it in real life? My character in the web series Cartel is Abhay Angre. Rithvik and Abhay are totally different from each other in real life. Abhay is maniac, a child , he is like a ticking bomb nobody would know what is he going to do in the show. It is a lot of preparation gone in making Abhay. My team who has been there with me during the making of the series and Abhay helped me in order to achieve the mannerism and accent of Abhay. I secretly recorded the conversation so that I could imitate and implement what he says to get my character of Abhay to perfection. I am very excited to play Abhay as I am not what he is and that is what is more exciting.
TAAPSEE TO GO ON THE PITCH FOR HER NEXT SHABAASH MITHU
MUMBAI: Taapsee Pannu is devoting her complete focus to her first film, Blurr, which is being shot in Nainital as any first-time producer would. But, before heading to the high station, the actor met with Srijit Mukherji to discuss Shabaash Mithu’s future. In June, the noted Bengali filmmaker took over as director of the biopic on Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj, replacing Rahul Dholakia. Pannu is said to have detailed her preparation and notes for the part she has been playing for the past year at length during the recent meeting. She’ll start shooting for the sports drama in early September when Blurr wraps.
According to the news, the biopic was supposed to start filming in April, but the second wave of the pandemic forced the team to put it on hold. Srijit is currently in Mumbai, where he is laying the groundwork for the big film. The film will begin shooting as soon as Taapsee returns to the city, followed by a worldwide release. Mithali is expected to meet with the director soon. Taapsee was last seen in Haseen Dilruba, which received positive reviews.
SUNNY DEOL CELEBRATES 38 YEARS OF HIS DEBUT FILM ‘BETAAB’
MUMBAI: Bollywood actor Sunny Deol celebrated 38 years of his debut film ‘Betaab’ by taking a trip down the memory lane. The ‘Border’ star took to his Instagram account and shared a throwback picture featuring him from ‘Betaab’. He captioned the post, “Betaab 1983 4th aug.” In the priceless old photograph shared by the ‘Gadar’ star, the then 27-year-old actor can be seen sitting on a wooden fence with a scenic landscape in the background.
Released on August 5, 1983, the film featured Sunny and fellow debutante Amrita Singh as two youngsters who fall in love despite the class difference between their families. Sunny received a Filmfare Best Actor Award nomination for his performance.
The film was a box-office success and its songs ‘Jab Hum Jawan Honge’, ‘Tumne Dee Awaaz’ and ‘Badal Yun Garajta Hai’ were chartbusters. As per reports, the actor-turned-politician has been roped in to star in R Balki’s upcoming psychological thriller.
RANVEER SINGH SIGNED FOR BHANSALI’S BAIJU BAWRA
NEW DELHI: There were reports that Ranbir Kapoor has said no to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s proposed musical love story Baiju Bawra. Sources close to Bhansali denied stating, “Ranbir has not been offered Baiju Bawra. The only time Ranbir turned down a role in a Bhansali film was when he was offered Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai starrer Guzaarish. Bhansali offered him the role that was eventually played by Aditya Roy Kapur.”
About the casting of Baiju Bawra, the source close to Bhansali productions says, “It is Ranveer Singh who was being seriously considered for the part. Bhansali’s focus was on the casting of Heera Mandi. But now since erroneous information on the male casting of Baiju Bawra was being leaked out, Bhansali has decided to announce Ranveer Singh in the ambitious grand musical’s title role.”
BELL BOTTOM STARS SPOTTED IN DELHI
It was raining stars in the national capital after a long hiatus as the star cast of the film Bell Bottom were spotted launching the trailer of their film. Actor Akshay Kumar also officially unlocked Delhi cinemas at the event. The actor was quick to encourage cinema lovers to make the trip back to theatres after their vaccinations but to do so while following all protocols so that cinemas are not forced to close again due to another wave. Bell Bottom will be the first Bollywood release after the second wave and reopening of cinemas which the team is hoping will encourage other filmmakers to announce the theatrical release of several pending projects.
The film interestingly was shot after the first lockdown abroad and is now ready for release much before other films which were shot earlier but still not released including Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi.
The film is based on true events and the trailer has already started getting rave reviews. The film has an ensemble cast and stars Lara Dutta, Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor & Adil Hussain apart from Kumar. Lara who plays Indira Gandhi in the film has also generated a lot of buzz on social media due to her transformation & prosthetics for the role. Here’s hoping that this film’s release brings much needed relief to cinemas & the film industry.
BECOMING SHERSHAAH WAS A DREAM COME TRUE MOMENT: SIDHARTH
MUMBAI: Ahead of the release of ‘Shershaah’, actor Sidharth Malhotra opened up about his experience of working on the war drama. “For me becoming Shershaah was like a dream come true moment… I think the biggest obstacles all of us face is fear, and Capt. Vikram Batra broke that and said it with style and confidence by saying ‘Yeh Dil Maange More, sir’,” Sidharth said in the film’s BTS video. Directed by Vishnu Varadhan, ‘Shershaah’ is based on the life of Param Vir Chakra awardee Captain Vikram Batra, who laid down his life in the service of the nation while recapturing Indian territories from Pakistani intruders during the Kargil War in 1999. Actor Kiara Advani, who is also a part of the upcoming film, recalled how Capt Vikram Batra’s parents were keen for Sidharth to play their son’s character. Jointly produced by Dharma Productions and Kaash Entertainment, ‘Shershaah’ will stream on Amazon Prime Video on 12 August 2021.
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