Jhumpa Lahiri’s father, “an oracle of rice”, makes a Persian pilaf with golden raisins and saffron threads, flicking water “in the ritual and cryptic manner of Catholic priests”.
“He could probably rig up a system to make pulao out of a hot-dog cart, were someone to ask,” the author wrote in The New Yorker’s Improvisations issue a few years ago.
The rice we hold in a plate today comes from a cart too, but isn’t half as fragrant as the Lahiri family’s favourite verbs: writing and cooking.
We’re at Birinz, a new biryani cart in Indiranagar that sells different biryanis, plates of plump kebabs, and promises to notify us when the biryani burrito makes its debut (“soon, soon”) via text mex.
Bhath & Body Works
Fired by a kitchen upstairs, which will soon also cater to new biryani kiosks in Jayanagar, Koramangala and HSR Layout, this little booth serves excellent chicken kebabs. Shahi and Angara are textbook versions of what kebabs should be – tender, juicy, spiced with sophistication and best eaten in disposable plates while you and your honey sit on the hood of a car, feet dangling into the universe.
Shahi and Angara are textbook versions of what kebabs should be – tender, juicy, spiced with sophistication.
The biryani is packed in neat containers, and is doled out in heaps – even the personal portion is humongous – so order judiciously. Hyderabadi biryani is the evening’s first disappointment, parched of flavour and nowhere close to the light, aromatic version we’ve eaten before. The chicken and mutton biryanis fair much better thanks to succulent pieces of meat and a precise blend of spices. Accompanying each plate is raita to ward off the heat, and a mysterious dark gravy, which could be a baigan salan impostor.
Perhaps our most adventurous order, in the absence of the biryani burrito, is vegetarian biryani, also known as pointless. Right? Wrong. This version packs in personality, perfume and a performance of vegetables cooked in with the rice rather than just being served kushka. This as the Lahiris might agree, is Unaccustomed Mirth.
Getting there: 12th Main Indiranagar, opposite Bombay Brasserie
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