Why Biryani, What Biryani

Chicken biryaniWithout going into the whys and wherefores of my choice of Indian dish, or tracing its historical background, and examining its ingredients: let me just say that I have always loved biryanis. Always.

To the uninitiated, a “biryani” is a dish of fragrant rice flavoured with spices atop a mound of cooked meat, fish or vegetables. It is normally accompanied by a yogurt raita (salad) or with a meat or vegetable gravy. The latter in my opinion is only served in very discerning eateries that offer top quality biryanis.

I had my first proper chicken biryani (yes, with the accompanying gravy) aged 8 ½ in a run down restaurant called Olympus in the city of Bangalore. To the shock of my Mum and my sisters I polished off an adult portion and had to be wheeled out of the place.

Back home in our little town in India, my mum sent our maid off to a family friend’s kitchen to master the art of making genuine biryanis from the Indian city of Hyderabad. The maid sniffed at their ‘dirty’ kitchen, cleaned it first and came back with expert knowledge. Thereafter my mother made biryanis for us every other Sunday.

In adulthood having moved to Bombay, the obsession continued and a completely inebriated me encountered Café Noorani in Haji Ali at 3am – this being the only self respecting restaurant open at that ungodly hour. I had a chicken tikka biryani and was hooked for life. I had it once again in the sober, harsh glare of daylight just to be sure and I still remained hooked. Thereafter for a decade I looked no further than Noorani for sustenance.

Well, between you and me I haven’t eaten a biryani from Café Noorani for ten years now. And judging by some comments on this listing  all may not be well with the place.

Will I ever find something like the chicken tikka biryani from Noorani here in London?