Bandra-based singer-songwriter Shayan Italia is no gastronomic prodigy — he doesn’t step into the kitchen, doesn’t experiment with food and often eats boiled vegetables delivered by a neighbourhood restaurant for a quick meal. But a few years ago, he decided to experiment with India’s beloved rice dish, the biryani, on a lark. After a year of R&D, come end-November, and Italia will begin taking orders for Biryani360, which he says is a healthy, gourmet version of the meal.
Biryani360, says Italia, is low on cholesterol — a 300 gm serving of the veg biryani has 599 calories and the non-veg (or the un-veg as he calls it) 699. The former, he adds, meets 18 per cent of recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein (55 gm protein on an average) and the chicken biryani meets 50 per cent of the same requirement. Both biryanis provide more than 25 per cent of the daily calcium needs.
The meat is tender in the Chicken Biryani
Italia claims this focus on diet does not take away from the taste of the meal. “Getting the biryani’s flavour right, of course, was paramount when I began researching and travelling across the country to sample the best our states had to offer,” he says, explaining that he began working backwards after he singled out three biryanis he liked best across India. The musician and his team stripped the recipe from scratch with the purpose of redesigning it to suit his criteria — that the ingredients are premium and the heaviness one often feels after finishing a biryani is absent. Three types of rice, neither of which is basmati, are combined to minimise carbs. He uses imported, locally-sourced herbs instead of garam masala.
The Vegetarian Biryani is light and delicious
We take a bite of the Vegetarian Biryani to test Italia’s claims. First things first — that Biryani360 focuses as much on the veg version is heartening (take that, everybody who sniggered unabashedly as we ordered veg biryani at restaurants). The biryani is fragrant, and comes with a serving of raita. True, there is barely any hint of oil, and we don’t miss the garam masala either (the flavour, says Italia, comes from his secret herb). The biryani is delicious, and we love how crunchy the vegetables are — all this without that greasy aftertaste. The raita, too, is light and complements the biryani in taste.
The Chicken Biryani, on the other hand, is a tad too spicy, feel the two carnivores among us. The chicken is tender and succulent and the vegetables do not go soggy like they often do in other biryanis. However, the 60:40 ratio of rice and chicken the non-veg biryani would have according to Italia, vis-à-vis the 80:20 ratio outside, is off the mark.
It is the saffron and the three types of rice which make the biryani cost this dear, because the portion certainly isn’t as large as those in other restaurants. While the calorie-conscious non-vegetarian says she wouldn’t mind paying R360 (the price for both versions) for it, the other one says she would prefer spending less and working out at the gym later. Biryani360 is a good option if you watch what you eat, and believe that good things can come in small, but succulent, packages.
Log on to: www.biryani360.com for details