Nagpur: Almost everyone who enjoys non-vegetarian food enjoys Biryani. The aromatic flavor, the chicken or mutton pieces that gets the flavor of Biryani and the large grains of Basmati Rice are simply mouth watering.
Some facts of Biryani:
The origin of Biryani is uncertain. The word “Biryani” is derived from Persian language. One theory is that it originates from “Birinj”, the Persian word for rice. Another theory is that it derives from “Biryan” or “Beriyan” (to fry or roast). There is a theory about the Mughals having brought Biryani to India, but another theory claims that the dish was known in India before Babur came to India. The 16th century Mughal text Ain-i-Akbari makes no distinction between Biryanis and Pulao. It states that the word “Biryani” is of older usage in India. There are references to a dish of “fried” rice, flavoured with various aromatic spices and condiments in ancient texts of India, which were enjoyed by the ruling classes. There was a traditional culinary preparation native to Bengal where semi-cooked fish was steamed with rice, letting the rice absorb its aroma, in a covered earthen pot, in a manner in which Biryani is prepared. Hence this ‘Dum’ style of cooking is not new to the Indian sub-continent.
Nagpur Today in its series of Top Five Biryani joints is featuring the Hotels where one can get to taste the best Biryani. The food appeal, palate and the taste differs from person to person. What appeals to one may not necessarily appeal to the other. The order taste preference quoted here is based on a random survey of Nagpur citizens.
Babbu Hotel: The owner of the Hotel Mirza Shareeq Baig claimed that their hotel was established in 1965. They claimed that their Dum Biryani has a very different taste and has succeeded in maintaining the taste consistently. They have three branches which include Chaoni, Fulala and at Mominpura. They claimed that their spices and masalas are a closely guarded secret which makes their Biryani very different from all others. They claimed that their marinating the chicken and mutton is done in a unique manner with mint leaves, coriander leaves, spices and other ingredients. This is followed by an air-tight manner of giving Dum to the Biryani mixture making it tasty and delicious.
Al-Zam-Zam in Central Avenue Road: The hotel owned by Sharique Hafeez was started in 2000 i.e. 15 years ago. The owner claimed that they are the only hotel that sells Hyderabadi Biryani. One can enjoy Hyderabadi Biryani only on Wednesday, Friday and Sundays. The Hotel at CA Road has big spacious seating arrangements with a great ambience. They have four branches i.e. at CA Road, Dharampeth, Ajni Square on Wardha Road. The hotelier claimed that they use only original spices and herbs which include Mint leaves, Coriander leaves etc. They too claimed that they use very aromatic Basmati Rice. They follow a Moghul style of cooking. Their style of cooking Dum- Biryani is unique which has gained them a special popularity, they claimed.
Bartania Hotel: The owner of the Bartania Mohammed Asrar claimed that Bartania is 35 years old and they specialize in Dum-Hyderabadi Biryani. However, they follow a different method where the raw chicken or mutton gets cooked while marinating. These portions then get added to the spiced aromatic Basmati rice. They marinate their portion for a good two to three hours before cooking. They have one branch in Sadar and have a lot of government contacts including providing food during Legislative Assembly in Nagpur.
Muslim Library Canteen or ML Canteen in Mominpura: The owner of ML Canteen, Shakeel Ahmed Kidwai claimed that the hotel was established in 1956 and is 60 years old. The hotelier claimed that they were the first to serve Biryani to Nagpur citizens. They too claimed that only after tasting the Biryani can one differentiate their Biryani with others’. He claimed that they use wood-coal to cook and to give Dum (placing live hot coal on top of the lid to help the Biryani to get cooked properly. He also claimed that they do not use pre-ground spices and masalas. He claimed that they grind their own spices in the particular ratio that makes them different from others.
Tanveer Hotel in Mominpura: The hotel owned by Tanveer Ehsan Pervez started in 1986 so is around 30 years old. They have three branches which are in Sadar, Ambazhari and Mominpura. The hotelier claimed that they use high quality aromatic Basmati rice only. They use only goat meat, cook in groundnut oil and Ghee, a particular ratio of spices and masalas, marinating the meat in mint, coriander-leaves, spices etc making their Biryani one of the best in the city.
…. By Samuel Gunasekharan. Pics by Amol Gajbhiye.