Friday, August 29, 2014

The Biryanis of Bombay - A Taste of Just a Few

For someone who lives in Bombay biryani can have many meanings, each as beautiful and flavourful as the next one. Sometimes it's a robust, spicy medley of meat, onions, spices, and rice, while sometimes it's a delicately flavoured gentler marriage of similar ingredients, and of course, there are many, many options available in this city that owe their origins to practically every corner of the country. If you like biryani Bombay is a good place to be.

I'm always on the look out for good biryani and any opportunity to gorge on some is always welcome to me. A random conversation with my friend Romi led to the idea of having a biryani party where we could order a few varieties of biryani, get a bunch of biryani loving friends together and generally have a great time sampling different biryanis and having a good 'adda'. The plan crystallized beautifully and the biryani party was on!

By popular consent we agreed there would be no chicken or vegetables in the biryani. We discussed the kinds of biryani we could have and where we would source them from. Bombay has so much to offer it was hard to choose but we finally settled on four different biryanis in four distinct styles.

There was a strong demand for the fragrant Kolkata style biryani and we opted to order some from Amit Roy who runs an eatery called Petuk. He's based in Virar and has a home delivery service that stretches across the city. You can call him on 9870126912 to place an order. We asked for a classic mutton biryani with chunks of meat and the huge pieces of potato (which, according to me, are the highlight of the biryani). Needless to say, the biryani was everything that we expected and was a big hit.

Next up was a typical Muslim style biryani ordered from one of the most respected 'ustaads' in Bombay - Lamboo Ustaad. This biryani is quintessentially of North Indian origin but unlike its Avadhi cousin cooked for royalty and the rich upper classes, this version is what the common man ate. It's robust, flavourful, moist and loaded with spices, onions and tomatoes. Potatoes are optional and are not a traditional ingredient as they are seen to be a cheap filler in what is otherwise a marriage of meat and rice. This biryani is served at most working class Muslim weddings. It is quite popular and there is a chicken version for non Muslim patrons. He also has mutton biryani on his menu. We opted for a beef biryani with potatoes.

You can call Lamboo Ustad on 9892671438.

Then there was a Bohri style white mutton biryani. This too had potatoes and like me, no one was complaining! We ordered the Bohri version as a contrast to the colourful and spicier beef biryani from Lamboo Ustad. The Bohri biryani came from one of the oldest caterers in the city, an institution in the Bombay food circles - Jeff Caterers in Bandra. I grew up in Bandra and on quite a few birthdays and other celebrations biryani would be ordered from Jeff's. So when the option of ordering from Jeff's came up, I was very excited.
This one was a luscious gently flavoured biryani that, to me, is the middle ground between the Bengali style biryani and what is known to many as the Bombay biryani. This is the one I packed in my doggy bag to enjoy again at lunch the next day.

You can call Jeff Caterers at 26421856 and at 9820813020.

There were a couple of people who were off red meat so we also had fish biryani which was ordered from a popular Bandra eatery called  Khane Khaas.

There is no doubt that we just skimmed the surface of the biryanis available in Mumbai. This megapolis is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and where there are different people, there will be different kinds of food. One would need to organise many more such biryani parties to sample every sort of biryani available in the city and I'm happy we have at least started!

Thank you Romi and Gaurav for a fantastic evening filled with food, music and lots of laughter and the inevitable Kolkata biryani versus Bombay biryani wars!  Psst... when's the next party?!

Marathon Bloggers Project 52 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Next time try to add a Malabari beef biryani from Sneha (Mahim) to the mix for greater geographical representation. And Hyderabadi too, of course.