Chicken Biryani at Bhatti’s Restaurant, Covent Garden

Chicken Biryani at Bhatti's RestaurantYou will have to excuse me for this slightly out-of-focus picture. Just as I was about to click, the husband screamed “Raisins! This biryani has raisins in it”. Now that’s enough to alarm anyone – even a person with nerves of steel like your correspondent. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.

On Friday, in what was probably the coldest night of the year, some friends and I went to the excellent Sarastro Restaurant in Drury Lane for dinner. Being a multi-tasking, so-every-extremely-busy burbie mum, I seized on the opportunity to hit two birds with one stone and feverishly started looking up good biryanis in the area. Moti Mahal came out tops and as luck could have it was only five minutes away from Sarastro. So just after dinner, at the risk of looking and acting demented, I called Moti Mahal and asked if they could prepare a chicken biryani for takeaway. The pleasant woman who answered the phone said that they only had lamb biryani but she would ask the chef if he could rustle up a chicken one for me. She came back on the line extremely apologetic with the bad news that actually the chef didn’t do takeaway biryanis. Imagine that!

Rather than being disappointed I was quietly smug that one of my pet theories was being proved right before my very eyes – posh, oversubscribed restaurants can’t be bothered to actually look after the needs of their clientele. They simply don’t care.

Luckily for me, my eagle eye had spotted a restaurant called “Bhattis” on nearby Great Queen Street. They were very pleasant when I called them and thirty minutes later I dragged my friends there to collect the biryani.

We had it for dinner yesterday – this is when the first raisin was spotted. Things quickly went downhill after that: I tasted my first mouthful and it had absolutely no effect on me. Nuffink. The son decided to opt out completely and stick to my dal and rice whilst my mum bravely went for the veg biryani and the accompanying curry.

The table was quiet for a bit and then I broke the silence by asking what I could do to jazz up the biryani. Fry some onions and tomatoes in masala and put them in perhaps? “Just eat it”, my mother said with gritted teeth. “It is not worth wasting your time jazzing it up”. The husband meanwhile was still darkly muttering about the raisins and said bitterly “Just add some maple syrup and dates to this and have it for dessert”.

On this happy note, we have decided that it does not merit going through the biryanometer.

Ah well.. upwards and onwards, me hearties.