A lazy Sunday biryani
In the good old days when Sundays were Sundays, and not just any old day squeezed in between two other nondescript days, part of our holiday fun was in going to Andhra Bhavan for some Hyderabadi biryani, which was available only on Sundays. I loved its hot flavours and the plump egg in it. A couple of Sundays ago, I suddenly pictured that delicious golden rice with juicy pieces of meat in it and thought I needed to do something about this yearning.
I had earlier ordered from a place called Biryani Badshah, which had Andhra food on the menu. This eatery has branches and I tried out the outlet in Laxmi Nagar, which delivers through Swiggy and Zomato. There was some consternation about the name, a debate that we’d been having at home ever since I expressed a desire to order food from a Chinese restaurant called Shagun. But never judge an eatery by its name, I have always held.
So, the order was placed: Hyderabadi dum biryani (₹329), extra salan (₹15), kaju ki sabzi (₹209), chicken 65 (₹249) and double ka meetha (₹99). I started my meal with the chicken 65, which has been an old favourite ever since I first had it when a breakaway faction from Andhra Bhavan cooked it for us at some get-together long years ago.
Legend has it that chicken 65 was first started by Chennai’s Buhari Hotel in 1965, though some said it was so named because it was cooked with 65 spices.
Badshah’s fare did not disappoint me. The chicken, marinated in and cooked with yoghurt, was deliciously tender, and had taken in all the spices that it had been mixed with before being pan-fried. The chillies and curry leaves gave the dish a punch.
What surprised me was the kaju sabzi. I have never had this, but I am quite a cashew nut fiend and thought the dish sounded promising. It had a creamy sauce of roasted ground cashew, flavoured with onions and tomato.
I then went on to the biryani and salan. The salan — a mix of ground peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut — was nicely spicy, and went well with the biryani, which was hot, but had retained the flavours of the whole spices it had been cooked with. The rice was the way it should be in a good biryani — long and aromatic, and not sticking to one another like loyal members of a clan.
I was a little suspicious of the double ka meetha, as it didn’t look much like the famous Hyderabadi dessert and seemed a bit runny. But it turned out to be rather nice — there was the flavor of saffron in the sauce, and cardamom added to the taste of the bread that had been softened and soaked in thickened and sweetened milk. The sweet dish brought the curtain down on what was quite a nice meal.
I took the last spoonful of the double ka meetha and sighed. What’s in a name, I said to no one in particular.
The writer is a seasoned food critic