Biryaniquest in India – So much of food, so little time


So much food. So little time.

That’s what you feel like after a two week holiday in the motherland.  There is just too much to eat and not enough hours (and we won’t mention lack of tummy space) to pack it all in.

The husband, son and I arrived at my mother’s in India brandishing our individual lists of what we wanted to eat. Son triumphantly ticked off one of this items at our first lunch (Puri Bhaji and Gulab jamuns); husband had one of his for dinner that evening (Potato curry the way Vimal makes it); and I was given Sabudana Khichdi for breakfast the next day.

After that I threw my list away – there was no point. I was going to go with the flow and eat what other people wanted me to eat – and there is a lot of that in India.

“Let’s go to the restaurant we used to visit when you lived here. But this time you MUST eat the fish/veg/chicken/potato. It is out of this world”.

“Don’t buy your gulab jamuns from here, buy them from there – in fact, I forbid you from going to that shop”.

“I think I will take over the ordering in this restaurant, I know what you like”

This was very apparent when we were in Bombay and staying at the Cricket Club of India. Our first lunch there was with some of my mother’s friends and Aunty R commandeered a waiter and ordered about 20 dishes for the table – essentially things that she liked and desperately wanted us to try out. All very delicious, she has very good taste and we were all happy bunnies although she had to take about 10 dishes home because she had over-ordered so spectacularly.

After that the waiters took over and decided what they were going to serve us for breakfast each morning – once when the son rejected a Medhu Wada in favour of Chocolate flakes, he was served the cereal AND the Medhu Wada and ordered to eat and enjoy both. He meekly did.

Back home at my mum’s, her formidable staff has over the years always brought us specialties from home that they’d like us to eat.

There is Baby Jaan, the youngest of the lot and a newbie with a mere 15 years of service behind her who wanted me to have her chicken biryani.

Then  Manohar who has been with the family for 40 odd years brought us his usual offering of chicken, chappatis, rice and Aloo Mattar.

And there is always Vimal (photo above)  – the stalwart  and sous chef to my mum  – who has been with us for about 50 years and has her signature dishes of Aloo curry and potato dumplings for the husband and potato patties  for the son and I; along with assorted delicious things that are too many to mention.

A new entry was our Rickshaw driver who turned up one morning with some delicious Idlis made for us by his wife (he had told Vimal the night before not to cook any breakfast for us).

As you can imagine, we have come back stuffed and reeling with the sounds of “If you like this, have more..” “The next time you come….”

And more food was given to us to carry in our bags in case we felt weak with hunger when we arrived in London.

However, you will be pleased to know that I still found the wherewithal to try some restaurant biryanis and take down some interesting recipes. More of that later. Please, not now.