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Biriyani 65

Two food festivals in the city offer a feast meant for royalty


THE COFFEE boutique Café Mercara at Chola Sheraton is now offering `Biriyani 65.' Named `Zaika', the biriyani festival brings to the platter 65 types of biriyani that are ravishing palates around the country. Daily, five different types of biriyanis will occupy the dining table along with accompanying salans and Indian desserts.

The noormahal biriyani is spicy and filled with bite-sized pieces of mutton, while the awadhi biriyani comes with meat that has been marinated in saffron and rosewater. The gosht makz biriyani is sprinkled with meat so tender that it seems to melt in your mouth.

"The meat has been allowed to soak in a marinade of curd and spices for six to seven hours," explains Chef Gaurav Singh. Just when you think great biriyanis are all about a mixture of rice, mutton and spices, the murgh zafarni biriyani comes along to shatter that misconception. Then, chingdi dum biriyani with a rather generous sprinkling of prawns is a Bengali version.

Meanwhile, the vegetarian subz dum deg biriyani has made its entry, hand in hand with the equally vegetarian kathal ki biriyani. While the chef introduces the latter as a biriyani unique to Hyderabad, he calls the former an all-region biriyani.

Subz dum deg biriyani is made in a humungous vessel and under steam. Kathal ki biriyani is a really rare as it accommodates jackfruit.


While sampling the non-vegetarian salans, the khutta hua keema leaves a mark. "We pound the meat with our hands. For 45 minutes," says the chef.

Lucknowi fare

You enter the epicurean world of the Nawabs at Copper Point, GRT Grand, which is staging an Awadhi food fest called `Laajawabi Lucknowi.' Ghazals set the tone for the evening.

With a few sips of the welcome drink Rooh Afza, you are smack in front of the gastronomical palace of the nawabs. From there, Chef Abdul Haleem, whose forefathers were on the payroll of the nawabs, takes you on a truly imperial journey.

Next comes badam ka shorba, which, as the name implies, is a rare badam soup. The nihar gosht, a combination of thigh bones, cashew nut, raw onion, garlic and ginger pastes and potli masalas, loosens your taste buds. You pick up rare breads like bakargani and shermal topped with saffron, take liberal helpings of the non-vegetarian dum pukht biriyani and fill a small cup with louki (bottle gourd) ka raitha. You also find yourself drawn to the badal jam — brinjal aesthetically topped with cream, yoghurt and spice powders. The galoti kebab, made on the spot, also hops on to your plate.

The desserts leave you confused. After hopelessly trying to figure out what to take and what to leave, you decide to chuck `calorie-think' for a day. You spoon up pieces of shahi tukra (bread layered with thickened milk, sugar and saffron), a big chunk of sheer korma (roasted vermicelli) and a huge mass of annar ka muzzafar (rice cooked with pineapple and sugar). And for good measure, you sweep a piece of moti chur ladoo and a cup of lasoon kheer (made with garlic) on to your plate.

* * *

Caf‚ Mercara, Chola Sheraton
Zaika biriyani festival On till May 23
Open from 7.30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.
For enquiries or reservations: 28110101, extension 1830.

* * *

Laajawabi Lucknowi,
Awadhi food fest
Copper Point, GRT Grand, T. Nagar
On till May 23.
Dinner: 7 p.m.
For enquiries and reservations: 28150500.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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